Care without carbon

Hayley Carmichael

Hayley Carmichael, communications manager at Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust (SCFT), talks about their sustainability scheme and the success of their internal behaviour change programme.
At SCFT we created Care Without Carbon four years ago to define our approach to delivering sustainable healthcare. The strategy embraces every part of the organisation, and we developed a unique engagement programme called Dare to Care to help get staff on board. Since its inception it has delivered some great results, and we have even greater plans for the future.
Why Care Without Carbon?
Care Without Carbon was developed to support SCFT’s goal to be a strong sustainable business, grounded in our communities and led by excellent staff.  A sustainable business for us is simply about effective management of our essential resources – from people and time to money and materials. The strategy is shaped around three key aims:
  • Working towards long term financial sustainability.
  • Minimising our environmental impact.
  • Supporting staff wellbeing to enable a happy, healthy and productive workforce.
We address these aims through seven different areas for action which we call our seven steps to sustainability. This ensures our work integrates across the whole organisation.
We believe that it is important for the whole organisation to play a part in creating change, which is why culture is one of the seven steps; we must embed sustainable behaviours into our workplace and wider healthcare partnerships.
The challenge of the NHS
 The pressures on the NHS are well known. As a community trust we have the additional challenge of a mobile workforce spread across 70 sites. Culture change is never easy, and with these challenges we had our work cut out. That’s why we developed Dare to Care, an engagement campaign to give staff a common goal to work towards, that supported a better working life and a greener NHS.
Dare to Care is about doing small things differently (we call them dares), for example walk to work one day per week.  Each dare is manageable and has impact – sharing impact is important so people know that what they are taking the time do is having a difference. Every dare is designed to reduce environmental impact, boost wellbeing and save money.
As well as individual dares we developed dare challenges so teams could take part. The combination of the two has extended the reach of the programme as we now have people signing up to a dare who may not have taken part individually.
Delivering results
Dare to Care is already driving cultural change, and empowering our staff to adopt behaviours that support the aims of Care Without Carbon. We have measured the impact of our work, and shown that this activity directly improves participants’ wellbeing at work as well as achieving cost and carbon savings.
To date we have around 25 per cent of staff actively engaged in the programme, with over 5,600 dares taken. We worked with the New Economics Foundation to measure the impact of our engagement programme on wellbeing and found that staff who had signed up to a dare scored 18 per cent higher for wellbeing in the workplace than those who have not.
We also measure the carbon and related cost savings across the trust. To date we have saved the NHS £4.87 million and reduced SCFT’s carbon footprint by 1,843 tonnes against a 2010 baseline. If you’re interested in knowing more about what we’ve achieved so far, read our latest annual sustainability report.
Looking to the future
 The Care Without Carbon team is now leading the way for the Sussex and East Surrey Sustainability and Transformation Partnership for the strand of work around sustainability. We are developing a collaborative SDMP (sustainable development management plan) that will provide an overarching framework of targets and actions, creating a systems wide response to reducing emissions, saving money and improving health and wellbeing.
More information
You can promote sustainable practices across your organisation by getting involved with Sustainable Health and Care week, 25-19 June 2018. Find out about the themes of the week and download our communications toolkit to help you plan and activities and get part in the conversation.

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