East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT)
The Trust's focus on menopause aims to create a supportive environment for its female-majority workforce.
The need and desire for a focus on menopause within ELFT came from multiple sources. ELFT has, for example, a well-established Women’s Network, comprising of around 200 female members of staff and which covers a range of topics, including the menopause. Within the network, the menopause has always been a popular topic that has resonated widely. In addition, the People and Culture team saw from staff survey results that a significant proportion of ELFT’s workforce is older women and their needs were not always being met. This was also highlighted by the planning and introduction of a new inter-generational staff network.
Initially, and to be able to further examine the topic of menopause among the workforce, a series of menopause sessions were delivered, some of which were aimed only at women and others that were open to all. During these sessions, staff were invited to share their experiences of the menopause, how they were affected, to discuss symptoms and how they can be managed in the workplace (including adjustments and other support required). These sessions were facilitated by an external trainer, which helped to assure confidentiality and encouraged staff to share in an open and informal setting. These sessions were then followed up by further feedback sessions led by ELFT’s Chief Executive and Director of People and Culture, in conjunction with the Women’s Network, where staff were able to input to the future direction of ELFT on the subject of menopause and to inform the direction of travel.
Two of the main issues raised by staff were the lack of support and understanding from colleagues about the menopause and the fact that menopause is still largely taboo and not openly spoken about – neither in the workplace , nor wider society.
In response, ELFT’s People and Culture team was commissioned to create menopause guidance for managers on the menopause, including information about symptoms, suggestions on reasonable adjustments and tips on sensitively handling menopause with team members and colleagues. In addition, ELFT’s Women’s Network is setting up individual menopause networks within each of the Trust’s directorates. This has been advertised widely and take-up of staff from a range of backgrounds and occupations – including men – has been enthusiastic. These “mini” networks will provide an opportunity for staff to get together to talk, share and listen in an environment suited to their directorate. With ongoing facilitation from the Women’s Network Lead, it’s hoped that further ideas will be generated and acted upon, to ensure that staff are fully supported and their needs relating to the menopause are understood by senior leadership.
For other employers looking to engage staff on the subject of menopause and create a supportive environment, ELFT’s Trust Equality Lead for Women advises that they listen to their staff; no one person’s situation is the same, but there are common threads in terms of needs, so they believe that opportunities for staff to share experiences and suggest solutions is paramount.
ELFT is recognised as a centre of excellence for mental health care, innovation and improvement. Established in 2000, its ambition is to make a positive difference by providing people with mental and community health care services that support their recovery and help them to achieve the most fulfilling lives possible. ELFT is driven by its values of care, respect and inclusivity and it works to improve support for all who use and have contact with its services. ELFT’s extensive research approach, commitment to education and emphasis on quality means it is at the forefront of excellence in mental health care. The City of London Corporation commissions ELFT to deliver mental health services to different populations within the Square Mile.