Posted: 18 January 2021
Vicky Jackson was only days into her new role as Head of People Development at MHA when the organisation saw that COVID-19 was going to dramatically change how they delivered care and support across their services
Here Vicky reflects on how the entire organisation followed their One MHA ethos to implement wellbeing Initiatives throughout the pandemic supporting more than 7000 colleagues and 4000 volunteers.
Throughout the last few years MHA has maintained a strong strategic focus on wellbeing which was elevated with the development of our Engaging Leadership Programme in 2019 that supported our leaders in understanding the importance of their own wellbeing in effectively supporting their teams.
Due to this strategic focus MHA’s Executive Leaders and Board were integral to the development and support of the plans to offer a broader range of wellbeing support for our colleagues during the Covid-19 pandemic. They recognised the importance of a wide variety of opportunities for people to access support at an early stage as the full scale of the pandemic started to become apparent. The Executive Leaders set up a Gold Command structure early in 2021 which met daily, and at the height of the pandemic several times a day, to monitor the impact of the pandemic, future plan and manage to ensure that resources were directed to support all our people, including volunteers, residents, members and colleagues.
As with all good social care providers our people are incredibly important to us so we knew it was essential to protect them, and look after their mental and physical wellbeing through this unprecedented time.
We saw this as an opportunity to utilise the skills and knowledge available across MHA to include our internal Chaplains, People Development team and our Executive Leaders whilst also thinking about how our existing external partner organisations could support us.
In fact two elements from our extensive wellbeing package have incurred any real costs, and those were the more complex group counselling service and the Samaritans Listeners training.
So between March and December 2020 our wellbeing initiatives were;
Manager Wellbeing Webinars
A programme of ‘How are you feeling right now?’ wellbeing webinars delivered for all our managers between April and May 2020. They were developed to support managers to have an opportunity to explore and share the early challenges that they were facing through COVID-19.
Areas explored in the sessions included; signs of pressure in self and others, identifying when the pressure experienced was moving towards a high level and having a negative impact on their wellbeing and how to manage this, providing ways to build a fantastic support network around them and clear signposting to where they could go for support.
Online Wellbeing Toolkit
Following significant research by the People Development team a series of tools and one page guidance and support documents were developed and provided to all colleagues through an online wellbeing portal. This was formally launched in March 2020 and between March and October 2020 the portal had a total of 7,482 views.
Resources were categorised into five key areas of wellbeing that have their roots in Positive Psychology, and included;
- Positive Emotion: This relates to our ability to experience and share positive emotions with our self and others.
- Engaging: Taking time to engage in activities and hobbies that hold our attention.
- Connecting: Experiencing positive relationships with our self and others.
- Meaning and Purpose: Having a clear understanding for our drivers and why we do what we do.
- Achievements: Ensuring that we have goals to enable us to experience the success of achieving these.
In total 51 resources have been developed and are still being actively used by colleagues.
Executive Leader Wellbeing Calls
Throughout the pandemic the Executive Leaders took on an active role in supporting our staff by providing regular calls to our managers to continue to keep in touch with the issues our people were facing and to develop our offering to ensure the right support was in place.
Communication and Recognition
Throughout the pandemic the Executive Leaders have maintained clear lines of communication, despite the challenges of remote working. These took the form of regular zoom meetings for all MHA staff to attend and weekly emails to provide clarity on the situation across MHA. The zoom meetings were supported by utilising Slido to enable our colleagues to have a voice and pose questions that could be responded to within the meetings.
In addition, our Executive Leaders have provided important recognition to all our people for their hard work and commitment throughout the pandemic which have supported colleagues in maintaining their levels of motivation and drive in working together as One MHA through some exceptionally challenging times.
The blog series:
- Part two: In the second of her blogs Vicky reflects on how asking the organisation’s 7000 colleagues and 4000 volunteers about their experiences during the early part of the pandemic shaped their Wellbeing responses. ⇨ Read the Blog
- Part three: In the final blog Vicky will look at what MHA will be doing to support their staff and volunteers when the pandemic is over. ⇨ Read the Blog