Nick Farthing, Chief Executive, Hospice in the Weald.
Hospices deal with one of the most difficult topics of conversation: death, dying and the end of life. One of our strategic aims as an organisation has been to lead in encouraging open conversations around death and dying. We work hard at this to ensure that patients and families have the right support in place to express their wishes, and to have them met.
Our nurses, doctors, staff and volunteers are skilled in helping people to have difficult conversations, and we see the difference that those conversations make almost every day. The chance to say sorry, to say goodbye, or to say that you’d like to be cared for at home, the chance to express your worries or fears. These conversations can be challenging, but they make a great deal of difference to each patient in helping them feel safe and comfortable.
Now, we have published a policy to support our staff and make sure conversations about the menopause are not difficult.
It is well documented that nursing workforces often contain more women than men*. The Royal College of Nurses reports that men make up around 10% of all registered nurses in the UK, for staff registered between 2011- 2020. At present, our workforce at Hospice in the Weald reflects this national trend. This means the menopause is an issue which could potentially affect a large proportion of our workforce at one time or another.
We pride ourselves in being a supportive employer; our culture is one of empowerment and we talk often about how that helps us to grow and develop individuals to reach their full potential and to provide the best care possible for patients and their loved ones.
Our values include kindness and honesty; these are a de facto code of conduct for all members of our workforce.
After recent consultation with the workforce, we have published a Menopause Policy and I am pleased that we will be addressing this challenge, which could affect any member of our workforce, in a way that upholds those values and empowers our staff.
The aim of the policy is to encourage an environment of openness, helping everyone to feel comfortable in discussing menopause in the workplace and for staff to feel able to approach their manager for support. We are also providing support for managers to feel confident having conversations and dealing with menopause related issues.
Hospices do a fantastic job at caring for their patients. We are caring organisations to our core. I would encourage Hospice leadership teams to consider implementing a menopause policy to ensure we are supporting our staff, as well as our patients, as best we can.
* This article refers to men and women but acknowledges that any person may choose to identify as non-binary and that the menopause could affect a person regardless of gender
Gender and Nursing as a Profession, Royal College of Nursing, 2020, available at: https://www.rcn.org.uk/-/media/royal-college-of-nursing/documents/publications/2020/january/007-954.pdf?la=en
Megan Ford, Nursing Times: Focus: Men in nursing – tipping the gender balance, 2019, available at: https://www.nursingtimes.net/news/workforce/focus-men-in-nursing-tipping-the-gender-balance-06-03-2019/
ehospice is grateful to Hospice in the Weald for agreeing to share their policy in full: