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A seagull with a sore leg: How having a shared focus improves staff wellbeing

Serena Strickland is a GP working in North Devon, close to the ocean where she can indulge her passion for sea swimming.

Everyone was starting to feel a bit stressed with a lot of change going on at the practice, patient demands and staff shortages.

But then Sid came along.

He was first spotted hobbling around the staff car park one morning, he seemed to have a bit of a gammy leg.

Finding him still there in the evening, he was ushered into the small courtyard at the back of reception where he would be safe for the night.

The next day he was still there. A quick google search indicated that cat food was an ideal diet for him, so duly purchased and offered, he gobbled it up and started to wait outside the window for food. Water was also provided in true GP style, presented in a vomit bowl. Sid revelled in picking these up, splashing in them and spilling them within a few minutes. It was a full-time job for reception to keep the bowls full for him, especially in the heatwave.

A quick google search indicated that cat food was an ideal diet for him, so duly purchased and offered, he gobbled it up and started to wait outside the window for food.

Gradually his leg started to heal, he was limping less and was often to be seen during morning surgery running up and down in front of the glass doors to the consulting rooms, playing with sticks or flapping his wings. He provided endless entertainment and a focus of attention for patients, agitated children and those who were simply curious.

The reception staff were excited every day to come into work, was he still there? What would he do next?

Photos started to appear on the reception desks and Sid now had several different names depending on who was working. First topic of conversation in the morning was our resident seagull’s welfare.

One day he was starting to run up and down and trying to hop over the fence. His friends started to visit, and he would squawk back at them when they sat on the fence and shouted. It was time for him to go. One day, the gate was duly opened, and he simply walked off. He was seen that evening by one of the practice nurses outside a local fish and chip shop with a gang of friends (at least we thought it might be him). It was a sad day to come to work and not see him.

But, two days later he was back, some said it was because a certain member of staff who had been the main purchaser of cat food, was there.

After the weekend, we are all excited to see if he will be there again, and whether he will become a regular visitor. I haven’t looked forward to going to work so much in a long time!

Featured image: Photo by Anurag Jain on Unsplash

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