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Adapting to change: well-being and learning during a pandemic

Adapting to change: well-being and learning during a pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant significant changes to working practices. Michele Eve, CRN East Midlands Workforce Development Lead and Well-being Lead explains more about how her team is supporting the response...

What challenges have been created by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Like everyone, we have had to adapt to a rapidly changing situation and to adopt approaches based on the new environment we are all operating in. One of our first priorities was to review the learning offering and opportunities we provide to research staff, and we began moving them to different formats so that staff can continue to access high quality training and development remotely. This has been particularly important at a time when more staff are involved in delivering urgent research studies into COVID-19, and need support to ensure that they are properly equipped to do so. Our approach has meant that we have optimised our offering, focused on the essentials and used formats that are easily accessible to suit people’s needs.

What kind of tools have you used to support staff?

There has been a real focus on using digital tools to deliver effective solutions. This was one of our priorities anyway, but has been accelerated because of the pandemic. We have experimented with digital approaches for training sessions and meetings, and are also exploring how we can use technology to support the delivery of events if circumstances mean that holding them face-to-face remains difficult in the future. I’ve been delighted to see people’s willingness to embrace new approaches, and how quick everyone has been able to adjust and pick up new skills along the way.

How are you and your team supporting COVID-19 research?

We’re involved in a number of different projects that are contributing towards the national research effort. That involves reviewing protocols for the COVID-19 studies to identify any specific workforce needs, providing training for medical students so they can get involved in supporting research studies, and working with colleagues to create online resources to support a project aimed at increasing participation of Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups in COVID-19 research. There is so much happening in the world of research right now and we’re all determined to do our bit.

How important has well-being been during the pandemic?

Well-being has never been more important. I’ve been incredibly proud of the innovative and comprehensive approaches that we’ve taken to support CRN East Midlands staff during the pandemic, putting well-being at the forefront of our response. We’ve had such a range of activities - a virtual pub and kitchen, virtual self-help reflexology and other therapist sessions, daily brain teasers, staff quizzes and much more! All of this has been designed to make sure that people feel connected and supported, especially as we know that lockdown has been challenging for so many people. We’ve also been putting a wealth of information, guides and tips on our Workforce Development website and signposting people towards them so that they can prioritise their well-being.

How did you get where you are today?

I began my career as a nurse, before getting involved in research around 30 years ago and I’ve never looked back since! I spent much of my research career working in the pharmaceutical industry, before moving back into the NHS when I joined the NIHR CRN. My current role brings together my passion for both research and training, and I love working in research with the knowledge that what we are doing is making a difference.