Karen Morse is the National Lead for Mental Health at Skills for Care. She looks at why it’s important for managers to support social care staff to build resilience and mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.
During the COVID-19 crisis, social care workers are facing the most challenging times in our sector’s history, so supporting the resilience and wellbeing of your staff is even important than usual. Building resilience means you can equip your workforce with skills and tools to help them cope with the added pressures and manage their stress levels. Supporting their wellbeing means they can stay well at work and your service can continue to deliver high-quality care and support.
There are lots of simple ways that adult social care managers can support staff to build their resilience through this crisis and beyond.
What does resilience look like?
Everybody has resilience, but some people have attributes that make them more resilient than others. There are some behaviours that are associated with resilience, for example, valuing the meaning of what you do, having a positive attitude, taking a problem-solving approach to difficulties, keeping a sense of perspective and asking for help when you need it.
These are all things that can be developed and supported. Therefore, there’s lots that employers can do to build staff resilience.
Management systems might include your organisation’s policies, processes and procedures, which guide how you do things in your workplace. There are lots of things that you can do to ensure that your management systems reduce work-related stress and support resilient behaviours.
They should enable you to organise work in a way that protects the wellbeing of your staff, raise awareness of resilience throughout the employment cycle and ensure that systems are in place to identify and resolve any problems that might cause stress in the workplace.
For example, your recruitment process should enable you to employ people who have the right values – when you employ people whose values match your workplace values, they’re more likely to find their work meaningful and worthwhile, which supports resilient behaviours in the workplace.
Another great example is providing ongoing support for staff, for example through supervision, appraisal, team meetings and mentoring, which give them the opportunity to reflect on their work, feel part of a team and discuss any issues. They’re a great way to engage staff in the meaning and purpose of what they’re doing, which can help staff to build their resilience.
Learning and development
Learning and development ensures that staff are confident and competent in their role, which supports resilient behaviours.
You could also arrange learning and development about resilience to raise awareness and improve their skills around the best ways to deal with the pressures of the role.
Learning might focus on dealing with pressure, team working skills, problem-solving, self-awareness and confidence building – all essential parts of building resilience.
It doesn’t need to be something new – it can easily be integrated into existing learning and development. For example, you could introduce the concept of resilience during induction, reinforce it in team meetings and discuss it in supervision.
Positive workplace culture
Workplace culture is an important part of managing work-related stress and building resilience. Leaders and managers are responsible for setting the culture and leading by example to ensure that a positive culture is maintained.
A culture that fosters resilience might include staff being encouraged to speak up and ask questions, talk about their feelings, support each other, and work well as a team at times of heightened stress.
There are simple things that you can do to improve your workplace culture. For example, the next time that something goes wrong, don’t slip into blame mode – instead reassure the person involved and work together to solve the problem.
Find out more
Skills for Care has developed new guidance for managers to help them to build the resilience of their staff. One of the guides includes case studies and templates from other employers who have implemented new ways of supporting the wellbeing of their teams. Download them for free at: www.skillsforcare.org.uk/resilience