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Promoting Excellence In Psychological Health & Wellbeing

Supporting the NHS Long Term Plan: Staff Incident Support Team

14 Mar 19

This blog comes from Dr. Irene Lane, as part of our series on how psychological professionals will support the delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan

The Staff Incident Support Team (SIST) service, protocol and training, was set up by psychologists within the Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. The SIST service was formed through the recognition of a group of psychologists that no formal staff support was in place following serious incidents.

Due to the complex nature of the work staff carry out across the Trust, there are a variety of serious incidents that can that have a detrimental impact on staff.  It is important that we support our staff to maintain their welfare. In addition our Trust is starting the cultural shift of moving towards a Trauma Informed Care model and part of this model focusses strongly on supporting the NHS workforce. SIST sits very well within this model due to its psychological approach to staff wellbeing and the way it sets an example through modelling of staff supporting staff through the facilitated SIST meetings.

Although the service was set up by psychologists, the volunteer team is multidisciplinary which adds to the richness of experiences and understanding of different services across the Trust. The SIST service is formed of four lead clinicians and a group of volunteers who have been trained by psychologists in the facilitation of SIST meetings.

SIST follows NICE guidelines that state the single session debriefing should not be routine practice. Instead SIST offer psychological support which aims to reduce arousal levels, validate experiences, and offer psychoeducation around typical reactions to traumatic events. In addition SIST provide sign posting to other services if needed. It is made very clear at the beginning of meetings that a SIST meeting is in no way related to formal investigation and that the meeting is solely for the purpose of the staff being supported at a particularly difficult time. A one month follow up email is sent out to each staff member who attends a SIST meeting. This has the function of checking-in with staff and ensuring recovery from the incident is progressing and overall distress is reducing.

There is currently no statistical research which can be used to demonstrate the effects of the service provided by SIST. However, the qualitative feedback received from staff who have received support from the SIST team is that the meeting facilitated a space a think about how they were feeling, to connect with their colleagues who had experienced the same, to feel heard and to better understand that their responses to the traumatic event were typically shared with colleagues within the teams.

Dr. Irene Lane, Chartered Senior Counselling Psychologist


This blog covers the "Supporting the NHS Workforce" section of our pdf Long Term Plan infographic (120 KB)

Please get in touch with us if you would like to write an article on how your team, service or Trust is supporting the delivery of the Long Term Plan, as outlined in our infographic.

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