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Mar 18

Your wellbeing really does matter

Posted: 26 March 2018

Bill-MumfordBill Mumford is a Skills for Care Fellow and a freelance specialising in leadership development, mentoring and facilitation. He talks about the importance of registered managers and care workers putting wellbeing at the heart of their daily lives. The new wellbeing guide that he has co-authored with Skills for Care, will support registered managers to do just that.

There are over 1.5m people employed in social care in England, not quite as many as the Chinese army but not far off!  You are a wonderfully diverse group of caring individuals and the vast majority of you have been working in various caring roles for many years.  As a society we are indebted to you and I am not alone in wishing your important work was more clearly valued: come rain or shine, day or night, north, south, east and west you keep our loved ones safe and well cared for.

Many of you have taken the brave step of becoming local managers, sometimes referred to as registered managers with the extra responsibility of being vetted and registered with the Care Quality Commission.  Over 90% of registered managers started as care and support workers and most still help out when necessary- they are the backbone of our social care sector.

Next month, Skills for Care is launching a new guide for its registered manager members: ‘Wellbeing for registered managers – a practical survival’. A happy registered manager tends to create a happy team, which in turn leads to good care.

Did you know there is a growing body of evidence that our ability to care for others is significantly reduced when we are feeling out of sorts ourselves?  This might seem obvious, but take a moment to think about what this might mean for a registered manager.

Sometimes being a registered manager can feel like being in the constriction point of an hourglass with sand slowly but unceasingly pouring down on top of you. Then, as your job never stops, when the top chamber finally empties the hourglass is turned on its head and the flow of sand starts afresh.  The sand is a metaphor for the numerous requests from the owner or head office for monthly returns; your line manager needing something they think is urgent and can’t wait; your local commissioner wanting a contract review; the CQC asking for a self-assessment return by the end of the week and your local council having just started to dig up the road at the front of your service...

Does that sound familiar? In reality it is well-nigh impossible to reverse this flow of sand. The good news is that despite the reality that your job is always going to be challenging there are some straightforward and effective coping strategies that are proven to help us remain sane and retain a semblance of feeling in control. You may be fortunate and have a supportive line manager and great colleagues around who are there for you but this will not always be the case.

In this new guide, we will introduce registered managers to the ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing (Connect, Be active, Take notice, Keep learning and Give). Just like the 5-a-day fruit and veg for a better diet, these are simple, easy-to-do tasks that we can all benefit from learning.  They are not just a random selection of popular opinions, rather they are based on the best objective evidence compiled by the New Economics Foundation (nef); one of the most respected research bodies in the country.

The trick is to start slowly, to work on all five areas in balance and to start now.  There’s no time like the present; remember the flow of sand never stops so don’t wait. Clinical psychologists have proven that we are more likely to develop effective and lasting coping strategies when we are feeling ok and don’t feel the need. The best strategies become like habits, we just do them as part of our daily lives; like cleaning our teeth – we make the time.

The guide encourages readers to create their own ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’ plan – it really is very simple, and then to make a start.  I did my own in 20 minutes over a cup of coffee in a café (a slice of cake helps too).  The advice is to keep it simple with incremental steps and actions in all five areas and not to worry about setbacks. These are to be expected and are an opportunity for us to learn more about ourselves.

As a long-serving CEO I wish this guide had been available earlier in my career as I have learnt about the importance of looking after one’s own wellbeing the hard way and on reflection didn’t give it enough priority.  If we want to ensure our capacity for compassion remains as fresh as the day we started we have a moral duty to also ensure our own wellbeing is not neglected.  I am sure this new guide will be a help. 

‘Wellbeing for registered managers - a  practical survival guide’ will be published in April 2018. Exclusive to registered manager members, this resource includes a wellbeing self-assessment and plan, top tips, case studies and practical exercises.  

 Find out about becoming a registered manager membership member here.