A new poetry book featuring poems from Teesside NHS staff about the pandemic has now been published.
The Creative Writing Handbook for Healthcare Workers features moving poetry from 19 members of staff at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, all about the struggles of working through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The book is the result of a collaboration between North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and The Open University.
The two organisations recently joined forces on a series pilot creative writing workshops to establish whether poetry could reduce stress and improve mental wellbeing in healthcare workers during the pandemic.
The publication is a handbook on creative writing as well as a showcase of work from our staff.
Feedback from staff
Ward matron Kim Duffy is one of 19 published poets in the book. She said: “Writing and finally being able to get it all out just brought it all back to reality.
“It’s a way to communicate what you’re really feeling which is something a lot of people don’t want to do during COVID.
“We’re regularly reflecting on what we do on a professional level but this was different – this was from the heart.”
Those who delivered care during the pandemic took part in the three-month virtual project. Participants include:
- Occupational therapists
Copies of The Creative Writing Handbook for Healthcare Workers are now available in all wards at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust for both patients and staff to read.
Macmillan clinical nurse specialist, project participant and budding creative Kirsty Wainwright said: “Writing has been a good way to reflect on the difficult 18 months that we’ve had as a Trust. It has been a very emotional experience.
“It’s equally as emotional having something you wrote in a book. It’s something brand new for me – very exciting.”
Developing the poetry book
Funded by the Open University, the pilot and book were devised by:
- Nurse consultant in cancer and palliative care Mel McEvoy
- Consultant in palliative medicine Dr Donna Wakefield
- Poet and social literary practitioner Dr Siobhan Campbell
But the book doesn’t just feature poetry from local healthcare workers. The Creative Writing Handbook for Healthcare Workers also acts as an exercise book for staff in health and care to develop their creative writing as an emotional outlet.
Trust consultant and workshop facilitator Mel McEvoy said: “I was so pleased that staff, during one of the most difficult times in the life of the NHS, wanted to make a contribution that would help, support and encourage other NHS staff to keep going.
“This book reveals something of the depth of our staff’s personalities. It gives us some insight into what they bring to their work on a day-to-day basis.
“I believe the creative process is crucial to our wellbeing. It can fill up our resilience when it is under pressure and enables us to see the meaning in the work we do.”
The pilot project has since been hailed as a success by participants and pioneers alike. Now it has even been nominated for a Helping our Workforce to Recover from the Pandemic Award at this year’s Bright Ideas in Health Awards.