May 2023 – This new chapter is taken from Health and Wellbeing of the Adult Social Care Workforce published by the Department of Health and Social Care. It includes advice and links to other information that employers and managers can use to help build the resilience of their team and address any concerns their staff may have.
With increasing pressure on services, it is vital that all those providing care and support to adults – both employers and employees – are able to take time to think about their health and wellbeing, as well as that of their colleagues and the people and families they support.
The information in this chapter is taken from Health and Wellbeing of the Adult Social Care Workforce (Department of Health and Social Care). Whilst written during the COVID pandemic, it includes relevant advice and links to other information that employers and managers can use to help support their teams and address any concerns their staff may have.
2. Mental Wellbeing
The guidance recommends the following key steps to support staff with their mental health:
- have a structure to the day, and try to develop a daily routine; writing a plan for the day or week may be helpful. It is also important that staff keep doing things they enjoy as this can give relief from anxious thoughts and feelings and can boost mood;
- physical health has a significant impact on mental wellbeing. As the body releases endorphins when exercising, this can relieve stress relief and also boost mood;
- maintaining relationships with family and / or friends is important for mental wellbeing. Staying in touch with people on the phone or via video or social media is particularly if people are feeling anxious;
- avoid continually checking the news – via 24-hour channels and social media – as this can make people feel more worried and anxious. It may more helpful to only check the news at set times in the day;
- good-quality sleep can have a positive impact on how people feel mentally and physically. Every Mind Matters gives advice on how to get a good night’s sleep;
- people should be asked if they are ‘ok’, and always encouraged to seek help if they are struggling. Services available include:
- sending a message with the word FRONTLINE to 85258 to start a conversation with the Shout messaging support service;
- Samaritans offer support NHS and social care workers in England. They can be contact for free, day or night, on 116 123;
- Every Mind Matters which provides comprehensive support, tips and ideas on mental health and wellbeing.
2.1 How managers can help
During supervision, managers should check in with their staff and ask about their wellbeing (although staff should be clear they can ask for help in between supervision sessions if they are struggling). Mind recommend developing Wellness Action Plans with staff as a practical well of supporting their mental health and wellbeing.
3. Building Resilience and Managing Stress and Anxiety
It is important that staff are helped to find ways of coping with increased pressure. Skills for Care has a guide on how to build personal resilience which includes tasks for staff to complete that help to recognise pressure and stress. It provides advice on developing resilience through emotional intelligence, accurate thinking and realistic optimism.
MindEd provides free educational resources on mental health.
The Every Mind Matters page on anxiety provides advice on managing worries that people may have.
Other information and support includes:
4. Physical Wellbeing
Staff should try to keep active, where and when possible. This can include walking outside or running or riding a bike once a day, as fresh air is extremely beneficial for mental health.
For those who are not able to exercise outdoors, there are several online workouts that can be done at home. The NHS provides free, easy 10-minute workouts and the NHS Fitness Studio has a collection of accessible exercise videos.
Staff should ensure they get rest and respite during work or between shifts, eat healthily, engage in physical activity and stay in contact with family and friends. People should avoid unhelpful coping strategies such as tobacco, alcohol or other drugs. In the long term, these can worsen mental and physical health.
Although the COVID pandemic has been officially declared over, it is still possible for staff to catch the virus. To reduce the risk of getting COVID and what to do if someone does get it, staff and managers should follow NHS advice COVID-19 – NHS (www.nhs.uk).
5. Financial Wellbeing
Financial wellbeing is about people having a sense of security and having enough money to meet their needs; it is about being in control of day-to-day finances and having the financial freedom to make choices that allow people to enjoy their life.
There are a number of organisations to help staff with financial problems they may have:
- Mind – advice on managing debt;
- Citizens Advice– advice for people who are struggling to pay their bills. It is important that bills are not ignored as this can make the situation worse;
- National Debtline provides free, confidential and independent advice on dealing with debt problems.
- The Money Advice Service works to improve people’s financial wellbeing. It gives free, impartial money advice through its online portal, via WhatsApp and over the phone. It also includes a number of useful tools and calculators and the Money Navigator Tool which helps identify the support people may need and provides tailored information and guidance.
There is also information on:
- your rights if your hours are cut or you are laid off from work (gov.uk)
- what to do if you cannot pay your tax bill on time (gov.uk).
6. Concerns about Work
It is important that people’s rights as workers are protected, especially during times of increased pressure. Similarly, staff have a professional duty to act if they are concerned that the safety of those they care for is at risk. If any member of staff has any concerns about employment practices, it is important that they feel able to raise them.
Any concerns should be raised with the senior management team in the first instance. There will be internal procedures in the workplace about what to do.
Staff can also contact their union or professional body, if they have one, for advice about what to do if they have concerns. They can play a helpful role in trying to resolve any problems staff may be facing and improve workplace practice.
Finally, if staff want to report a serious case of bad practice or have been unsuccessful in resolving any issues with their organisation, they can contact CQC and local council safeguarding teams. See also Whistleblowing chapter.