Posted: 16 April 2018
During this ‘Stress Awareness month’, Sue Caslake, Workforce Development Lead at Independent Lives discusses the direct link between supporting the wellbeing and resilience of their staff and delivering a high quality service.
Independent Lives is a user-led charity that works with disabled people, people with support needs, and carers, to enable people to lead full, active and independent lives.
Working in care can be hugely rewarding, but it’s also well recognised that it has the potential to be emotionally demanding. We know that supporting the wellbeing and resilience of our staff is vitally important to ensuring we offer a great service. A key part of this is making sure that staff have managers who can support them and who are resilient themselves.
As part of a project; funded by Skills for Care’s 2016/17 Workforce development innovation fund; to improve the resilience and wellbeing of our care staff, we took a three-part approach to increasing the capacity of managers and their teams to dealing with stress.
We started by arranging for three of our managers to attend a two-day Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training session. MHFA training teaches people to spot the symptoms of mental health issues, offer initial help and guide a person towards support.
At the same time, all of our care workers were offered the opportunity to attend an introduction to mindfulness session – giving them the chance to find out more about the subject and how it could potentially support their wellbeing. Staff were also able to practice some simple mindfulness techniques as part of this session.
Having developed an interest in the subject through the introductory session, ten staff went on to complete an eight-week mindfulness course to learn mindfulness practice. This course included a two-hour session, once a week for eight weeks, as well as daily home practice on the part of the participants; mindfulness and resilience skills need practicing and refining.
The managers attending the MHFA training reported feeling more confident in dealing with sensitive issues and challenges with both staff and the people who Independent Lives supports. One manger reported that it was “invaluable” and that their learning (and the techniques their staff had learned as part of the introductory and eight-day course) had been put to good use in team supervisions and meetings. The manager was also clear that it reminded them to “stop” and take a moment at times throughout the day.
Staff taking part in the introductory and eight-week courses reported feeling calmer, more confident and better able to deal with stress at work; the majority of staff taking part in the eight-week course also reported that how they dealt with stress in their personal life had benefited.
To maximise the impact of the project and to ensure that managers and staff continued to think about their wellbeing and mindfulness, we took three easy steps once all the training was complete:
- a daily reminder from managers to staff to take five minutes for mindfulness
- scheduling a half-day mindfulness course six months later to practice guided mindfulness with a trained facilitator
- developing a mindfulness information sheet for staff, people using our services and others – sharing information and useful links (you’d be amazed how much is available online for free!).
The impact of our focus on wellbeing has been excellent, as one member of staff told us: “I really enjoyed the course. It has changed aspects of my life already. It has enabled me to want to be myself and look at issues that arise rather than ignoring them, thank you.”
Skills for Care has developed a new Wellbeing guide for registered managers. Find out more here. You can also view our mental health resources and resilience resources.