• ‘Building Space: Developing Reflection for Wellbeing’ Can a chaplain help healthcare professionals develop reflective practice for wellbeing for themselves and their team?

      Mowat, Harriet; Satterley, Andrew; Graham, Elaine; Pearce, Sacha J. T. (University of Chester, 2019-01-22)
      In this thesis I develop a new, wider and richer understanding of wellbeing, through developing a process of reflective practice, with healthcare professionals within their challenging work culture. As a healthcare chaplain, having witnessed poor staff morale, I conducted a critical examination of NHS wellbeing reports and strategies, which revealed an understanding of staff wellbeing that ironically follows simply a health model. Challenging this, I argue for a broader interpretation of wellbeing that, in addition to focusing on health, is more holistic, relational and contextual. I develop reflective practice to nurture this, the use of which extends in healthcare beyond education and professional development. In my action research, knowledge was generated through ethnographic participation and observation, over a year, reflecting as chaplain with eight teams of healthcare professionals. This used my simple and memorable HELP Wellbeing Reflection Cycle (building on Kolb’s (1984) model of experiential learning) that combines reflection on work and personal development. My project also responds to Rolfe’s call (2014) for greater use in healthcare of Schön’s (1980) “reflection-in-action”. Building on these works, I develop reflection for healthcare professionals to nurture their wellbeing. My encouragement of the participants to self-facilitate their own reflective groups, when familiar with this method of reflection, is also a contribution to reflective practice, healthcare and the chaplain’s role. Thematic data analysis emerged from the reflexive field notes of our shared experience as co-reflective practitioners. The themes include healthcare professionals making the human connection between themselves and with their patients. They also value the space to reflect together, realising their desire for team support and a shared goal, as well as job satisfaction in this demanding culture. These themes, I argue, are consistent with the broader definitions of wellbeing, giving them the opportunity to be both a healthcare professional and human. Further data analysis also reveals consistency with wider wellbeing interpretations (including personal wellbeing measurements and data from the Office for National Statistics (2014, 2015)). I develop the role of chaplain as the healthcare professionals’ co-reflector, sharing their reflective space as a pastoral encounter and a source for learning. This combines the images of “empty handed” (Swift, 2009) “welcoming guest” and “mutual hospitality” (Walton, M., 2012). I offer to national healthcare the wider understanding of wellbeing, and the value of creating provision for reflective space to nurture it, in the care of healthcare professionals. This research offers the potential for exciting further developments in a wider constituency both in and beyond healthcare.