January 31, 2024

Establishing a dedicated Staff Health and Wellbeing Centre | Matthew Green - Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust

Matthew Green, Staff Health and Wellbeing Lead at Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust joined us at the NHS Staff Wellbeing Collective to dive into the details of their fantastic health and wellbeing centre.

Toby Cannon
12 minutes


1. Creation of Wellbeing Centre - Established a dedicated well-being centre, "The Oasis," in response to staff needs and challenges, with a special focus on mental health and well-being.

2. Challenges Overcome - Addressed funding, logistics, and location challenges, sharing insights on proving return on investment, engaging with the community, and overcoming procurement hurdles.

3. Innovative Features and Services - The well-being centre includes a free gym, outdoor garden, meeting rooms, and partnerships with external services like Citizens Advice, showcasing a holistic approach to staff well-being.

4. Outcome Data and Impact - Within the first year, the centre recorded over 30,000 visits from 40% of staff, offering health checks that identified and addressed 64% of staff with potential health issues, emphasising tangible outcomes and impact.

5. Ongoing Legacy and Learnings - Shared insights on project management, procurement challenges, and the importance of ongoing financial planning, with a focus on maintaining executive support and community engagement for the project's continued success.


Thank you to the speakers. I feel like I've got a really tough act to follow now. We've been on that blood sugar roller coaster with the cookies. I'm not going to get you doing any activity, but I do make a brief apology. I'm going to go through these slides quite quickly because I've got a lot to catch up or to go through in just over 10 minutes.

I would just start with the caveat, though, that I'm more than happy to chat to anybody, answer any emails, have any phone calls, meet on teams, or even if you want to come to Reading and visit the centre that I'm about to talk about, then you're more than welcome to. More than happy to show you around. So, just have that one in mind.

So, my name is Matt. I'm the staff health and well-being leader at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust. We're an acute NHS trust based in Berkshire. We've got around 6 and a half thousand staff. I'm also going to take you on a little journey today. We're not going to go to Rome, but we are going to go on our journey of well-being provision for the trust.

In the three and a bit years since I've been in post, and most of you being wellbeing leads in the room, I'm sure that you can familiarise yourself with this journey. So, we're going back to pre-pandemic. This is what our health and well-being provision looked like in our trust. So, we had no dedicated staff health and well-being team. We had no dedicated psychological well-being support. We still have an aging Hospital  estate with a lack of rest areas and rest facilities. Probably the only good thing about COVID, at least one of the only good things about COVID, there was a lot more funding that came down by NHS Charities Together and other such organisations that enabled us to improve that well-being offering.

And one of those things was for me, my post to be created. So, I was the first full-time dedicated well-being person, and I was appointed in November in 2020. These were some of the things, and again, I'm going to go through this bit quickly because I'm sure you're all very familiar with this. These are some of the things I did when I first came in post. It was looking at what are the needs of our staff. So, before I came in post, we commissioned a psychological needs assessment which was looking at the 10 most impacted areas of COVID, what were the needs of those staff in those areas, and how could we make their well-being better and the services and the provision better for those staff.

Also, we're combating things like social distancing, meaning that the limited rest areas we had were very, very busy, and there were stories of some staff having lunch in their cars and things like that because there just literally wasn't anywhere for them to go. So then we launched a project, which is what we call the Oasis, our staff health and well-being Center. I appreciate that this is hopefully a very visionary thing to hear about, but the idea of this is not for me to stand there and show off and say, "Oh, look how amazing we are," but it's just to plant that seed and saying this is what's possible in some NHS organisations.

Yes, the big caveat is funding, and I won't talk about that, but even if it was something that could be done on a smaller scale, it is possible to do this, and I'm going to talk a bit about the impact it has had. So, we launched this project in 2021, and we were very fortunate to get a large public donation from a resident who lived in the area. They gave us some money and said this must be spent on staff health and well-being. It was incredible. It was like winning a lottery. When does that ever happen?

The thing we decided to do is to develop a well-being centre. We had short provisions of well-being. For example, our physiotherapy service that didn't function during COVID, we turned that into a temporary well-being hub, and that was really, really popular with staff. When we had things like Dominoes Pizza donating free pizza for staff, we distributed it out of that hub. So, we knew there was a model there and that's what staff were asking for.

I've been asked to specifically talk about some of the challenges that we had to overcome. So, the first one on there, you won't be surprised to see, is funding, and in particular, how can you prove return on investment for something, and how can you prove that you're not just creating a big white elephant that's going to be a drain for money? So, I've got some statistics at the end I'll share with you. But also, what I'll talk about at the very end is the legacy and the long-term impact and ideas of things you can deliver from a well-being centre to keep the innovation high, to make sure that staff continue to come back.

We have been really, really pleased with the impact it has had. The other thing was logistics and location. I know some people in the room are community trusts, so you may have multiple sites, which obviously then becomes a lot harder. We have six sites. Our main site is in Reading. About 85-90% of staff work out. Again, I appreciate it's probably easier for us having most staff in one site, but the key thing is making sure that the building is situated or the area is situated in an accessible location for all staff engagement, keeping them involved in the whole process.

So, what we did is we renovated a great two-listed building that we already owned as a trust. We couldn't do anything fancy like knock down walls, but we did have the floor plans. We went to staff and said, "Right, we're building you a well-being centre. What do you want in there?" We had some ideas. We think maybe you might want a gym. We had some crazy things like an indoor heated swimming pool. Yeah, dream on. But by and large, we were able to facilitate the things that staff wanted. So, we're building what, you know, as the analogy says, "Build it and they will come." We created something we knew staff would want and would access.

The other big challenge was around managing those expectations and estates and facilities contractors. So, a lot of this was done because of, particularly with it being a great listed building, English Heritage, lots of external companies to make sure compliance and all those legal legislation challenges that I'm sure we're all familiar with. Specific learnings from the project, so if I could look back, if I was going back to 2021 and starting this project again, these were the key things that I would do differently. And I think this is a really, really useful thing. If you take nothing else on the slide, this is the kind of thing to think about.

It starts from the top with effective project management. So, the first project manager we had, communication wasn't very good. We did have bi-weekly working groups scheduled to chat about the project. There were many meetings went by where the project manager just didn't turn up. So, we're left in the dark quite a lot. Looking back now, we would have been more proactive in holding that project manager accountable for those things. So, that's definitely learning.

Procurement. So, I got given a building which was an empty shell, which was structurally sound. Fantastic. We're opening in two months, and I'd already contacted procurement and was assured that everything was in hand. I had a list of everything I wanted in the building, even simple things like signs on the doors, tables, chairs. Procurement turned around and said, "Yeah, we don't do that. You need to do that." So, I had to become a procurement expert overnight, and I literally spent two months contacting suppliers, getting quotes, getting invoices, raising POs, all those kind of things, at the expense of my day job. So, yes, we now have a fantastic well-being centre, but it was a lot of stress.

Also, when we moved into the building, we found out we only had one phone line because nobody had told them that we wanted more than one phone line. So, very, very simple thing, but would be really specific around exactly what you want. And then also, finance would have been better to be looking at long-term legacy things like ongoing cleaning costs, ongoing IT costs, things that often you maybe don't think about that we're now finding or where which budget does that come out of, and we're having to do a lot of internal negotiation.

Positives though, our board were really engaged, and our charity are really engaged as well. So, it's really important to mention that in terms of exec level support. We then were able to open our centre in 2022. These are a couple of pictures of the building and the garden. And these are some of the things we have in there. We've got a free gym. We've got meeting rooms. We've got a large outdoor garden, a room where staff can go and watch TV, a kitchen where they can heat up their food, make free tea and coffee, and a lounge area where, heard about the importance of connecting and being social, and they're able to come and have their breaks and that kind of thing in the building as well.

And then I talked earlier around innovation. So, a couple of the things we've done to ensure the ongoing legacy of the project. We deliver staff health checks from the building. So, we've seen just over 800 staff come forward in the first 12 months for a health check. So, that brings them through the door, and while they're there, we give them a tour of the building and show them the facilities. The key things around that, again, it's all about engagement. It is about ongoing funding. And then we also launched a partnership with Citizens Advice. So, we have a drop-in advisor come one day a week for any staff that want advice on housing benefits, landlords, that kind of thing.

So, here are some of the outcome data. In the first year, the doors open, we had 30,000 individual visits. So, every time someone comes to the building, they have to swipe their staff ID card to get in. So, we know exactly how many swipes have happened, and that was just over 3,000 staff. So, roughly 40% of all of our staff came to the building at least once, and we're continually to drive that number up and up and up. And we've had, as I mentioned, just over 800 health checks are being done. And as a side note from that, 64% of those people we have actually flagged them having a health issue that's needed medical intervention. So, again, it's not just saying, "Oh, look how fancy we are. We've got a gym or we've got a meeting room." We're actually delivering well-being interventions that are making a difference to our staff. And when I talked earlier around return on investment, that's exactly the kind of thing that we can now showcase moving forward.

And that's enough for me. Obviously, I'm going to stand here and say how amazing the project is. I've got a two-minute video, which is some of our frontline staff talking about the centre, and I'd really love for you to hear what they say.


Well, I think I've learned during the course of my career that having a space where you can go to away from your office is so important for mental health and well-being. I've struggled with my well-being in the past, and I've realised that you have to separate from the place that you work, even if it's just for like 10-15 minutes, just to get that reset and get back to being yourself. And then when you go back to your desk, you know, everything else kind of just seems much more simple, much easier.

Throughout my career, I've come to realise the importance of having a dedicated space separate from the office for the sake of mental health and overall well-being. Personally, I've faced challenges with my well-being in the past, and I've learned that taking a brief break, even if it's just for 10 to 15 minutes away from the desk, can provide a necessary reset. Returning to your workspace after such a break makes everything seem more straightforward and manageable.

One aspect of the Oasis that I particularly appreciate is the exercise space. By the evening, I often find myself too fatigued to contemplate going to the gym, so having an on-site facility is a real convenience. Being a morning person, I enjoy starting my day by hitting the gym before diving into work. It sets a positive tone for the day and contributes to my overall health.

I've had the opportunity to use various meeting rooms within the Oasis for training and team sessions. What stands out about this space is that, despite being on the trust property, it feels somewhat removed, creating a more relaxed atmosphere that encourages people to open up and feel more comfortable.

The designated weight room, as you can see, is a place I find therapeutic. It helps me release stress after a long day at work. Whether I'm entering the workspace with a lot of energy or need to unwind, this room allows me to ease tension in my muscles and relax before facing a busy day.

The Oasis offers a range of services, but one of the reasons I personally use it is for the quiet rooms. These spaces are ideal for coaching, private meetings, and most importantly, for conducting trauma incident management sessions. It provides a dedicated and quiet place for one-to-one sessions with individuals facing difficult times.

Lovely, there's my contact details, happy to chat to anyone outside of this as well, thank you very much.

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