On Tuesday 10 January, colleagues at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) were invited to join a menopause awareness session with special guest Dr Dawn Harper.
As both an interactive and informative session open to all colleagues at the Trust which overseas hospitals in Doncaster and Worksop, the wellbeing session was organised to provide attendees with useful insight into the significant life stage as the Trust works towards reaching Menopause Accreditation as an employer.
Best known for her presenting roles and sharing her expertise on programmes such as Channel 4’s Bafta Award Winning Embarrassing Bodies and This Morning, Dr Harper delivered the live session covering colleagues’ burning questions about the menopause.
With over 140 attendees tuning in, the session was a helpful and open discussion for all colleagues, whether they are experiencing the life stage, supporting a loved one or just curious to know more. As a practising GP working in the NHS for over thirty years, Dr Harper provided valuable insight into the menopause and how colleagues can support themselves and others.
The menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, although can begin earlier, when the ovaries run out of eggs and the hormones oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone fall. The perimenopause is the stage before the menopause when hormone levels are beginning to decline and symptoms start.
The menopause transition can have a significant and challenging impact on many women, especially whilst at work. Symptoms are often debilitating and unpredictable, including hot flushes, anxiety, insomnia, problems with concentration and memory, fatigue, headaches, muscle and joint pains, urinary symptoms and low mood. These symptoms can last for a number of years, making it even more imperative for workplaces to support their employees during this time.
Dr Dawn Harper said: “It is great to see Doncaster and Bassetlaw leading the way in menopause. Working menopausal women are the most rapidly increasing demographic in the UK and sadly many of those women are leaving work early. Supporting these women in the workplace benefits us all.”
The menopause session with Dr Harper was facilitated by the Trust’s Health and Wellbeing Team as part of their timetable of events, initiatives and services to support DBTH colleagues and their wellbeing. By sparking conversations around the impact of menopause in the workplace and promoting useful information and resources, the Trust aims to challenge the stigma around menopause and encourage colleagues to reach out for support if they need it. The Health and Wellbeing Team have also launched menopause drop-in sessions, providing a space for colleagues to share, learn and support each other.
DBTH has currently trained 11 ‘Menopause Advocates’ as part of their work towards becoming a more menopause friendly employer. As a volunteer role undertaken alongside a clinical or non-clinical role, this position has been established to support individuals going through the menopause by delivering presentations, providing relevant information and factsheets and signposting to further support. Most importantly, the Menopause Advocates can also advise colleagues on any reasonable adjustments that can be undertaken at work, including a lighter uniform, which may help to alleviate the discomfort of their symptoms.
Zoe Lintin, Chief People Officer, said: “Our Trust has a predominantly female work force, with 13% being of the average menopausal age between 51 and 55 – and this doesn’t account for the one in 100 who will go through early menopause.”
“Employees of all ages and genders need to be well informed about the perimenopause and menopause and how it could affect their colleagues, and able to signpost to both internal and external support and resources.”
“On behalf of all Team DBTH, I would like to express my thanks to Dr Harper for her time in sharing her knowledge and expertise with our colleagues. Thank you also to the Health and Wellbeing Team for organising this valuable session. It is fantastic to see the Trust taking action to help both current and future generations of women feel comfortable, confident and supported as they approach and experience the menopause.”