In our latest column in partnership with the Outstanding Society, Board Member and Owner and Registered Manager of Valerie Manor Zoe Fry discusses the importance of supporting the mental wellbeing of care home staff.
An often-neglected area for staff working in social care is their mental wellbeing. I have owned Valerie Manor, a 23 bedded nursing home, now for eleven and a half years and have realised as an outstanding provider that the home is nothing without our fantastic staff.
I have also suffered from anxiety myself and I believe that society underestimates the emotional challenges that come with any role within a care home and at Valerie Manor we recognise the importance of looking after our staff’s mental health as well.
In 2014, I contacted a counsellor to seek their support to work with staff on a 1-1 or group basis for some reflective practice, which helped staff to talk about the relationships they build with not only residents but their families as well, and recognise how personal problems can have an impact on someone’s day at work, self-care and reactions to recent deaths. We have even had a relative attend one of these sessions as well.
This year the counsellor introduced a new workshop as she recognised the needs of the staff in their emotionally challenging role. This covered, The Perils of Empathy, Building Emotional Resilience and Dealing with Death and End of Life Care and has been very well attended.
This is what our MBACP Senior Accredited Counsellor, Supervisor and Trainer, Lynn Bertram, had to say about her time at Valerie Manor: “At Valerie Manor, the residents are, quite rightly, at the centre of care and ensuring their needs are met is the focus for all staff. However, I believe that when staff feel supported and valued, they are much more able and equipped to carry out their roles in the best possible way. They are more likely to remain with the organisation and thrive in their roles.
“Reflective Practice provides facilitated time and space for staff to come together to explore common experiences and themes. It demonstrates that the emotional health and wellbeing of staff is crucial, not just to the individual staff member but also to the success of the organisation and, most importantly, to the residents and those cared for.
“Staff often referred to the strength of the team and willingness to pull together. They seemed able to both offer and receive help, demonstrating a high level of cohesion, trust and empathy within the team. I have often been surprised at the openness and enthusiasm of the participants to talk and reflect, which indicates a real appetite for this kind of sensitive, respectful and authentic discussion.”
The outstanding team at Valerie Manor have grown together and with Lynn’s support have embraced each other to support everyone’s emotional wellbeing which, in turn, leads to them providing outstanding care to each and every resident and their families. I am so proud of all the staff working at Valerie Manor and the support they give each other whilst doing a job that is emotionally challenging but so rewarding.