Coaching for Wellbeing – for health and social care workers at all levels

Animate are privileged to be invited to provide coaching support through the Coaching for Wellbeing offering – Download leaflet – announced by the Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, at the launch of the new digital National Wellbeing Hub on Monday.

We are delighted that the coaching offer is being extended to workers at all levels: front-line, next-in-line, team leaders, middle and senior managers across the public, third/voluntary and private/independent care sectors. This recognises that they are all playing crucial roles in organising and implementing a whole range of responses to the unprecedented challenges of the Covid-19 crisis in multiple settings, and could benefit from additional focused support to make sense of and process the myriad of current and prescient concerns they face on a daily basis.

Following the global and national news with its understandable emphasis on the spread of the virus, numbers of infections and death rates, and comparing differing governmental responses gives us one important set of knowledge. But it tends to oversimplify the picture and reveals only part of the rich tapestry of human effort and innovation being woven in response. Our conversations with clients and colleagues about their ongoing ‘Covid crisis journeys’, make it clear that people are in very different places depending on their role and context.

We are now in our 7th week of lockdown and we know that many individuals and teams are ‘norming and performing’ (to use Tuckman’s terms), having weathered the initial shock and disbelief of the new reality thrust upon them. They have rallied round a shared purpose and goals, taken up their (new and adapted) roles and designed new work processes that enable them to give their best in often very adverse and challenging circumstances. We heard a story from a frontline cardiac nurse who said team morale has never been better.

For others, the experience is more mixed and worrying. Many are having to respond to different mini crises on a daily basis and don’t know where they will have to turn to next. Some are feeling frustrated and overwhelmed, fearful for themselves and the people they are caring for because they not getting the basic equipment and support they need.

All of this is new and challenging at both systemic and cultural levels. Many workers are not used to turning to colleagues outside of their teams or disciplines for support. Some managers feel that they are providing the support their teams need, and associate an offer of coaching with poor or failing performance rather than additional focused support in a time of great need. We heard of a team of clinical psychologists who were instructed to ‘suspend their patient caseloads’ and clear space to make support available to staff only to find that there has been no call on their services whatsoever.

We do know that prolonged exposure to the exacting demands of dealing with the crisis, even for performing teams, is highly stressful and will take its toll. This can happen in a variety of ways: for some the adrenalin rush of being in the thick of it at work will begin to subside and exhaustion will seep in, others may be ‘flying at work but crashing at home’, and for others the sense of being overwhelmed on a daily basis is becoming unbearable.

We hope that the coaching initiative will be well received and its intentions understood, especially in contexts where it is least familiar and perhaps most needed. We are looking forward to playing our small part in helping people to prioritise self-care, keep looking after themselves and one another, so they can continue to look after and provide the care the people they are serving so desperately need.