Choosing to make a difference one action at a time

Roma Carter is an Occupational Therapist with Sussex Partnership, and she has been busy supporting our work to Care Without Carbon on her ward at the Chichester Centre. We asked her to tell us why she feels it matters that we try and be more sustainable in healthcare.

Choosing to make a difference one action at a time

It’s important that we try

Roma firmly believes that it is extremely important for the NHS to do what it can to be more sustainable, and work with our local communities when possible. For example she said, “Many of our services are in rural areas, and it would be great if we could support local suppliers who grow and make food, so we’re not buying in over packaged things that have to travel to get to us.”

“We just need as a Trust to start to not buy things that aren’t great for the environment, like less single use plastic items. On my ward we give patients a single bottle of milk, which is plastic, every day. That adds up to 16,464 bottles per year. You might be able to recycle them, but it would be better if we just didn’t use them at all.”

“We’re one of the main employers in Europe and we own so much land across the NHS, we must reduce the waste that we produce.”

Making positive individual choices

Thinking about impact on the environment is second nature to Roma, who chooses to be as sustainable as possible in her life outside of work. She told us. “I like the challenge of a sustainable lifestyle and I’ll always try to shop locally, plus I’m vegetarian. I struggle sometimes with trying to find things with minimal packaging, but I opt for refills on items where it’s available.”

Roma has also signed up to several of the pledges on offer through Sussex Partnership’s Dare to Care programme, which encourages staff to do things differently to reduce their impact on the environment.

Bringing others along with you

It was a no brainer for Roma to bring her values into the workplace, and the introduction of Care Without Carbon gave her the incentive to set up recycling champions at the Chichester Centre. This is a paid role, with champions getting £10 per week to actively support colleagues in recycling more, and finding ways to do that where facilities may not be available.

“This has been a bit of a challenge for us, as there are not always the recycling bins we need. If as a Trust we want to recycle more, then we do need the facilities to do that.”

Sussex Partnership is working to introduce new and improved recycling facilities across all of its sites, and in particular on inpatient units to support staff and services users in their ambitions to recycle more, this work is beginning to roll out to address the challenges that Roma highlights.

Roma is also active in engaging service users in being more sustainable too and has encouraged them to make a pledge as part of Dare to Care along with staff.

She adds, “I also attend  the Patients’ Working Together Group, which meets weekly to plan for the upcoming month, and I’m getting sustainability in there as an agenda item each month.”

A simple message

When it comes down to what really matter Roma is clear, just start making the choices that will make a difference. With the launch of the new #onelesspiece of single use plastic dare her call to ditch plastic cutlery  and cups is perfectly timed.  “We are  working to ensure that each new admission is given a bamboo cup so that they are not using disposable cups and we are using this as a positive welcome to the Wards”.

She concludes, “In addition to using less plastic and recycling more of what we do use we really need to think about how we travel. Meeting should be via Skype, and if they do need to be face to face lets pick venues that easily accessible to public transport, and if that isn’t possible it would be great to see more car sharing.”

If Roma has inspired you to make some different choices why not make a pledge, visit www.carewithoutcarbon.org/dares