The Royal College of Nursing has launched a new campaign designed to encourage nursing staff to “rest, rehydrate, refuel” during shifts.
Under the banner of the “3Rs”, it has published a set of resources, including posters and advice with the aim of making staff think about the consequences of not looking after themselves while on shift.
“Missed breaks have become the norm and this is not sustainable”
The 3Rs initiative “comes at a time when workplace pressures are forcing many staff to miss breaks”, warned the RCN.
It said the campaign highlighted the safety-critical decisions that nurses had to take and how dehydration, for example, affected concentration and cognitive function. It also emphasised that breaks at work were “a necessity, not a luxury”, highlighted the college.
RCN national officer Kim Sunley said: “Employers and managers need to recognise that in order to create safe and healthy working environments, nurses should be able to have regular breaks and have access to drinking water and healthy food during a shift, be that in the community or on a ward.”
She added: “Missed breaks have become the norm and this is not sustainable.”
The 3Rs materials include workplace posters designed to highlight the importance of taking breaks and to identify signs of dehydration.
A resource pack also explains the evidence base for the campaign, and includes advice on maintaining adequate rest, nutrition and hydration at work.
In addition, it outlines employers’ responsibilities, including those enshrined in health and safety law.
The 3Rs drive has been launched to coincide with Nutrition and Hydration Awareness Week, which runs from 12-18 March.
Last June, the RCN urged trusts and other employers to ensure nurses could keep hydrated, as a matter of patient safety, on what was a particularly hot part of the year.
Meanwhile, as previously reported by Nursing Times, a 2015 study of 88 nurses and doctors at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust found that 36% were dehydrated before they had started their shift.
- Employers urged to give nurses breaks or risk dehydration
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The college also noted that agenda items for its annual congress this year included a matter for discussion on employers banning staff water bottles in workplace settings.
Alison Upton, from the RCN’s UK safety representatives committee, is due to introduce the discussion at the conference in Belfast in May.
She said: “I’m hoping we’ll hear from members whose organisations have policies and protocols that allow health care staff to have water bottles in clinical areas.”