Why has it been developed?
In the last three years, the profile of both physical and mental health has been raised, emerging from a variety of sources such as staff association surveys, the MIND Blue Light Programme and the Police Dependants Trust survey. We believe it is a positive step forward and a sign that the physical, emotional & psychological impact of the work carried out by our emergency services is starting to be de-stigmatised. It also enables us to uplift our response accordingly because we can now start to understand the problem in greater depth.
The NPCC working group has collected significant information, feedback and research that suggests a need to introduce specific areas to cater for the unique needs of the emergency services.
As a result, Dr Ian Hesketh was asked to work with leading academics, staff networks and Public Health England to design the first ever sector-specific self-assessment – ‘The Blue Light Wellbeing Framework’.
The Framework represents an up-to-date and ambitious standard for employers to self-assess against, so that their subsequent strategy and interventions are based on evidence of need, and also what is proven (evidence-based) to improve outcomes.
The risks associated with not adopting the Framework relate to failing in our duty of care as employers, but even more importantly, a failure to meet the expectations of our people, putting at risk a withdrawal of discretionary effort – the lifeblood of our services.
The burgeoning demands placed on our staff have resulted in the recognition, through numerous surveys, that our people are under increasing psychological pressure to deliver quality services in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous working environment (VUCA).
The Blue Light Wellbeing Framework is grounded in robust academic research on what works in relation to wellbeing in policing, coupled with expert guidance from Public Health England. This Framework provides invaluable contemporary guidance, advice and support in the key areas of leadership, environment and resilience, including some of the emerging risks faced by staff, such as exposure to indecent imagery. This can be adapted to issues faced across blue light services.
The aspects of the Framework have been carefully considered and are based on widespread consultation with leading academics and professionals in the field; as well as practitioners at all levels. It’s overarching focus is on creating a positive working environment in which the workforce can draw meaning and purpose from what is both a challenging and hugely rewarding profession. Using guidance within the Framework, all services can embed wellbeing into daily business, avoiding it being seen as a nice-to-do or an add-on.