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81 It is the best of times, it is the worst of times
  1. Katarina Stefkova,
  2. Danielle Leemon,
  3. Rachel Bates,
  4. Shilpa Shah
  1. Northern Ireland, United Kingdom


Background The year 2020 has been like no other our generation has seen. News of a devastating virus never heard of before, became an ever-present reminder of our vulnerability. Lockdown, redeployment, and social distancing were our new lingo. Faced with the challenge of working long shifts under layers of personal protective equipment we needed more than ever before to look at ways of supporting and appreciating each other. That is when the ‘Happiness champions’ were born.

Objectives To improve staff morale, recognise and reward small or big acts of kindness, team spirit and dedication while serving in the front line during the current pandemic. All staff (see below in results) within the Children and Young people’s service in Craigavon Hospital were included.

Methods A core team of ‘Happiness champions’ including 3 paediatric trainees and 1 consultant was created.

Laminated cards with cartoon heroes were created, with the phrase ‘you are amazing, keep it up, that is all’ printed on the back. Small tokens were also included in the prize.

An email portal and a whatsapp group of all staff members in paediatrics were used to promote the initiative and receive nominations each week. The nomination could be for any member within the children and young person’s department irrespective of grade or role. The person nominating needed to state the reason for nomination to enable the core team to decide the winner each week.

Each week, one ‘Hero of the week’ was announced through the whatsapp group with a summary of the reasons for nomination along with a photo of our Hero. This was also broadcast on social media platforms (after consent) to have a further reach.

Results 17 ‘Heroes’ were awarded, one for each week of the lockdown.

Members of staff of all levels and areas within paediatrics were nominated (nursing, allied health, administrative, domestics and medical) showing how much positive regard there was despite tough times.

100% of our ‘Heroes’ were happy to receive the award and felt proud to be members of our team. This is evidenced by their wide smiles on photographs, although some may be hidden behind surgical masks. There was overwhelming response on social media with over a thousand likes and hundreds of shares, further spreading our message of happiness.

Conclusions The worst of times are only an opportunity to create the best of times.

Staff morale, resilience and team spirit greatly improved with this weekly feature.

Creating a virtuous cycle can be easy, fun and immensely satisfying.

We couldn’t have said it better than Albus Dumbledore ‘Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light’

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