Leaders: Looking after yourself

Evidence tells us that the immediate manager and senior support are the most important factors in protecting staff mental health.

To lead your team compassionately and inclusively during these extraordinary times, what are some of the most important things you can do?

You are not super-human! Who’s got your back? Where is your space to recharge and make sense of the chaos? Paying attention to your own wellbeing will maximise your ability to help patients and colleagues through the crisis.

Here's a guide on how leaders can look after themselves during a crisis
Leaders; Looking after yourself

Implementation advice for NHS executives

  • A guide for executive leaders has been published, offering advice on how to effectively implement Health and Wellbeing Conversations in your organisation. This includes considerations of how to begin implementation alongside the demands of recovering services, winter and COVID-19.
  • Health and Wellbeing Conversations are supportive, one-to-one discussions focused on building individual and team resilience. They involve the individual staff member and someone they trust such as a line manager, at work at a time and place that suits the participants.
  • The guide outlines:
    • The case for including the conversations in your existing strategy and the underpinning evidence base
    • General points to consider on implementation
    • Pragmatic advice on how to get started in busy pressured autumn/winter
    • Current and future resources
  • You can access the guidance here.
  • Book onto the free training here to learn how to have a well supported Wellbeing Conversation with your colleagues, and how to look after yourself as a line manager. 

As a manager, supporting your team to draw up a Wellness Action Plan (WAP) gives them ownership of the practical steps needed to help them stay well at work. It also opens up a dialogue between you and your team member, to help you better understand their needs and experiences and therefore better support their wellbeing. This can improve productivity and performance as well as improving job satisfaction.

Resources to use:

  • This guide will help you to support your team members with their mental and physical health and

  • wellbeing at work.

  • This guide is for your team members to use

  • This is a WAP form that you can fill in with your team members.

Resources have been kindly made available through IPS Grow and Dr. Rachel Perkins OBE.

Free and confidential 1-2-1 coaching or mentoring support sessions are being offered to NHS and social care leaders. Read more about this offer here.

Moral injury is a term that is used to describe the psychological distress that arises from being made to do or witness things that go against your moral code. This could be due to feeling or being under-prepared or ill-equipped to deal with a situation, often of a systemic nature, or inexperience during unprecedented situations.

During the pandemic, health and social care staff have shown symptoms of moral injury, which can present in a similar way to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Rather than psychological therapy, team and manager support has been shown to be most effective in helping colleagues both deal with moral injury and prevent it from arising. 

How can I support someone with moral injury?

Team support and allowing colleagues to discuss their feelings and experiences have been shown to be most effective in helping people to overcome moral injury. Specific things that are known to have helped include:

  • buddying people up on shifts so that they have a specific person they can talk to and get support from;
  • supervisors to be 'psychologically savvy' and undertake training on how to have wellbeing conversations. This can include training in how to become an 'active listener'.
  • peer support: having a supportive team that discusses wellbeing and provides reflective practice sessions can help create a sense of togetherness and community. It also allows early identification of staff members at particular risk and subsequent signposting for further support;
  • utilising TRiM practitioners as well as other staff support offers in your organisation;
  • making sure that staff are well-equipped, either with the up-to-date training and tools or physical supplies can help colleagues to feel more confident that they did everything they could in a situation and help them come to the realisation that a negative outcome was not their personal responsibility.

Helping NHS leaders, teams and individuals to recover from the trauma of Covid-19 a compassionate approach. 

None of us has previously experienced anything like Covid-19. Our way of working and indeed our lives have changed so much, demanding that we adapt at a phenomenal pace. Some of these changes are good ones and to be celebrated. However, the events of the last year, combined with the difficulties faced by the NHS prior to this, have left many staff exhausted and working longer hours than ever before.
At AWP we have brought together Trauma-Informed Care and Compassionate Leadership to help guide
us in supporting staff through these extraordinary times.

Click here to find out more.

NHS London Leadership Academy - showcases work that we are offering in the region across all of our workstreams, including systems, primary care, leadership, and coaching and mentoring.

Executive Suite – the extensive offer for those working in executive roles, including CEOs and AOs.

#ProjectM – a wider offer to managers and leaders throughout the system, delivered primarily through Twitter as a means of creating the space for people to make connections.