NHS nurses are being encouraged to remember to take regular breaks during their shifts as part of a new initiative launched by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
To coincide with Nutrition and Hydration Awareness Week, which began on Monday March 12th and runs until Sunday March 18th, the college has launched its new '3Rs' campaign.
Its messaging focuses on three actions each beginning with the letter: rest, rehydrate and refuel. The aim is to remind busy nurses to take the time to look after their own health and wellbeing as well as that of their patients during their shifts.
The campaign highlights that without sufficient rest and refuelling themselves with extra energy, nurses will not necessarily be in the best position to make safety-critical decisions.
It's not just energy from food that is important, but also adequate hydration from drinking enough fluids, as multiple studies have shown that dehydration can adversely affect both a person's concentration and cognitive function.
Overall, the 3Rs initiative is designed to emphasise that taking regular breaks at work are a necessity rather than a luxury, so nursing staff need to get into the habit of taking them so they can ensure they are providing their patients with the best possible standard of care.
Kim Sunley, national officer at the RCN, stated: "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.
"Missed breaks have become the norm and this is not sustainable."
The health service and the government each have a role to play in making sure that nurses are able to take these breaks too, as it is often extra pressure due to staff shortages that prevents nursing staff from having them.
In addition, the RCN is planning to challenge a proposal for employers to ban staff from drinking from water bottles in workplace settings.
Written by James Puckle
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