Vet team recognised for wellbeing initiatives

A veterinary team in Northampton is celebrating after winning a national award for its outstanding initiatives supporting the wellbeing and mental health of its colleagues.

Vets4Pets Northampton has become the first practice within the Pets at Home Vet Group to be awarded the Vet Wellbeing Award for a medium-sized practice from the Society of Practising Vets (SPVS), in partnership with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ (RCVS) Mind Matters Initiative.

From establishing a wellbeing committee to having trained mental health first aiders as part of the team, Vets4Pets Northampton has worked hard the past 12 months to ensure it is leading the charge to improve wellbeing within the veterinary profession.

Jenny Millington, Joint Venture Partner and veterinary surgeon at Vets4Pets Northampton, said: “Mental health and wellbeing have always been of the utmost importance to us as a practice so we already had quite a lot of initiatives in place, although of course, there is always more you can do.

“Due to the daily unique challenges our profession faces, these awards are so important and help push the message of prioritising mental health and support within the workplace.

“We were therefore absolutely thrilled to win in the medium-sized practice category, especially as this was the first time we applied for the award and there are so many practices doing such great things in this area.”

Sally Courtney, operations manager at Vets4Pets Northampton, said: “Within our practice, we have set up a wellbeing committee composed of two members of the vet, nurses and client care advisors teams. Part of the committee’s role is to organise wellbeing-focused activities for colleagues. Recently, for Blue Monday, we held a ‘kids party’ for our colleagues with food and games so everyone could relax for a bit and have some fun in practice. 

“We also try really hard to embed into our practice and culture a good, flexible work-life balance. Veterinary teams across the country work long hours, and we felt it was a priority to address this within our practice, whilst still offering clients and patient’s the same high level of service and care. Starting last year, we made it a priority to make sure everyone has the best rota and working hours suited for them. We were able to adapt everyone’s working hours, without this affecting their pay or holiday allowance and crucially, the service and care we give to our clients and patients. 

“We also support team members who need to take extended periods of time off work, whether that’s for personal long-term sick leave, or if they need to care for family members. 

“It may sound a bit daunting to make these types of changes, but the result, in our experience, is a happier and more stable team. 

“You don’t need to launch one huge initiative. A lot of little things that you start introducing will make a difference.” 

Vets4Pets Northampton first opened its doors in 2009 and has since become an RCVS accredited small animal hospital, and gained a further six accreditations from the RCVS. It also received the 2019 Vets4Pets Graduate Practice of the Year award for the outstanding support it provides to its veterinary graduate colleagues. 

“One key piece of advice I would pass on to anyone thinking of how to improve colleague wellbeing in their practice, is to first and foremost listen to your colleagues,” added Jenny. 

“We have a responsibility to our colleagues and a duty of care for their wellbeing. They spend most of their time at work, and being a vet is a very stressful and emotional job that comes with a lot of pressure. 

“Therefore, we have to do as much as we can to support our colleagues and ensure we have created the best working environment possible. It feels great to be recognised for all of our hard work in this area.”