Helping your Team
Are you a leader or manager in health or social care?
Health and care workers have been facing unprecedented challenges. Running your services to respond to the needs of people under your care, and looking after your teams and staff while maintaining your own resilience adds layers of extra responsibility.
This page is for those managing health and care teams and contains tips, tools and links to help you look after team members and yourself
It is ok to say that you are not ok
Team leaders can model this to their team. This is an unprecedented crisis, we are all under more stress than usual. Remind yourself and staff that struggling does not mean you are not up to the job; it means you are human.
Do not be afraid to ask “It’s tough, are you OK?”
Be visible, available and supportive.
Communicate regularly. Model optimism in your communication. Panic and pessimism can be infectious too. During a crisis people look to their leaders for containment and direction.
Beware the superhero cape
Remind self and team – “I do not need to have all of the solutions all the time”. You will need to tolerate and manage uncertainty for yourself and your team.
Connect with Values
Leading a team and providing care consistent with values
Ensure staff’s basic needs are met
Ensure adequate breaks, hydration and nutrition. Give permission for staff to step back when they need it. Make sure staff feel safe at work and are getting adequate sleep when off shift. This may mean allowing staff to not participate in debriefing or supportive exercises where this encroaches on their recovery time, break time or natural way of coping.
Create Supportive Space
Create supportive space for the team to be together. Team cohesion and peer support acts as a buffer against stress and trauma. Existing structures like handover or team huddles are naturalistic opportunities for debriefing.
Consider extending handover to include a chance to debrief or spend a moment practicing mindfulness. The opportunity for staff to talk about and process experience can enhance support and team cohesion.
These can be a quick and effective way to check on colleagues on the shift, remind them to take a break, hydrate and eat.
Consider setting up a “buddy system” of staff on each shift – giving explicit permission to look out for your buddy. Partner less experienced workers with their more experienced colleagues.
Allow yourself, and others to do something unrelated to work which you find comforting, relaxing or fun, humour is a powerful moderator of stress.
Beware of your own inner critic
Your wellbeing is important. Show self-compassion and be to kind to yourself. Practising self-care will show your team that it is important and help them to sustain their ability to care for those in need.
Complement each other
Confidence can be a powerful motivator and stress moderator. In contrast, we know that rudeness increases clinical error.
Although we can all become stressed in this environment we know that civility saves lives. Some staff need to talk while others need to be alone.
Recognise and respect differences in yourself, your patients and your team. Respond to feedback on what is helpful and what is not.
Check in with self
Check-in and monitor yourself over time. Notice any prolonged sadness or difficulty sleeping intrusive memories or hopelessness talk to a peer, supervisor or seek specialist support.
Implement flexible schedules with team members who are struggling directly or as a result of their responsibilities outside of work.
Helping your team through COVID-19
Resources from Kings Fund
Minded Blue Light
Tips for health and care managers and team leaders
Critical Incident Support
The Critical Incident Staff Support Pathway (CrISSP) is a voluntary, free and confidential service for all staff and volunteers across West Yorkshire and Harrogate. It is coordinated and overseen by the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub. It offers you and your team support following potentially traumatic or critical incidents. It is operated by colleagues who offer this service in addition to their normal ‘day jobs’. They have undergone specific and intensive training, and receive ongoing supervision and training, to enable them to offer a specific model of support to colleagues following significant and/or potentially traumatic incidents in the workplace.
Helping Others (NHS)
NHS Looking After Your Team
This coaching offer is available for those who lead, manage or organise a team or group in primary care
Skills for Care
Leadership and mangers support for those working in the care sector
Looking After Yourself
Coaching offer is for also available for those leading primary care teams but is to support you yourself
Individual coaching support is available with a highly skilled and experienced coach. This will be a space for you to offload the demands of whatever you are experiencing and be supported in developing practical strategies for dealing with this.
Bitesize Free Courses
Team Resilience – https://people.nhs.uk/guides/team-resilience/
Looking After Your Team – https://people.nhs.uk/guides/looking-after-your-team/
Managers Guide to Developing Wellness Action Plans
NHS Guide to Leaders Looking After Yourself – https://people.nhs.uk/guides/looking-after-yourself/
BPS guide to psychological needs of healthcare staff – yhpartnership.co.uk/application/files/1115/8832/7445/Psychological_needs_of_healthcare_staff.pdf