‘Revolutionary for my mental health’: How professional advocacy can help radiographers

Radiographer Adam Prout is developing a professional advocacy scheme at Derriford Hospital, to improve wellbeing and retention

Published: 08 July 2024 Wellbeing

A professional advocacy scheme is undergoing implementation at Derriford Hospital as part of efforts to improve staff wellbeing, retention, and patient outcomes.

Senior radiographer Adam Prout recently undertook a Master’s module in professional advocacy, becoming one of only two radiographers in the country to do so.

He explained that, using the training from this module, he has been implementing the practice within his department, X-ray, and is looking into developing into other modalities.

Normative, restorative, personal

Mr. Prout’s advocacy role makes use of the A-EQUIP model for supervision, which advocates for education and quality improvement. The A-EQUIP model is made up of four distinct functions: normative, restorative, personal action for quality improvement, and education and development.

The A-EQUIP model was developed for midwives in 2015, and began use by nurses during the first wave of the pandemic.

One aspect of the model is restorative clinical supervision – a one hour protected time on the staff roster wherein individuals in need of support can discuss whatever is on their mind in a quiet, safe place.

Mr. Prout explained this could cover work stress, home stress, career conversations and project improvement ideas.

'Boundaries have been broken down'

The course enabled him to use “emotional interviewing”, a process that supports the individual under supervision to reflect on where they are now and where they want to be. He then works together with them to create an “action plan” on how to get there.

He said: “Part of the problem of having to work in stressful jobs, like we do, is having to explain yourself. [With the A-EQUIP model] that element is totally taken away. I’m doing exactly the same job as that person. Those boundaries have been broken down. I’m there just as a guide, to help that person answer their own questions.”

Mr. Prout said he first discovered it through the neurodiversity staff help page at his trust, and asked his manager if they could implement it within the radiography profession.

'Would have been so revolutionary'

“My mental health took an absolute battering at the start of Covid, just like everybody else,” he added. “If this had been in place, if someone has sat down with me for and guided me to the realisation that I’m not okay, that would have been so revolutionary for me. It could have saved me so much time.”

The model has been able to reduce burnout and stress within the midwifery profession, Mr. Prout continued, as well as improving job satisfaction.

This is because staff are able to “take ownership back” of their roles and implement changes that can improve results on staff surveys.

'Key pillar'

Mr. Prout added: “I think it could have a huge impact. We really need to look at changing the way we operate within the role. We’re losing so many members of the profession, and we need so many more radiographers to keep up with demand. This could be a real key pillar of keeping the staff happy and engaged.”

More information on the A-EQUIP model and its results can be found on NHS England’s website.

Mr. Prout advised radiographers interested in implementing the A-EQUIP model, and restorative clinical supervision, within their trusts to speak to their service leads and line managers about the importance of the project and how it can reduce stress.

Mr. Prout concluded: “To look after our patients, we have to look after ourselves.”

He is currently working alongside the Society to rewrite supervision guidelines to implement the model’s recommendations.

(Image: Adam Prout)