Six Sources of Support as a Social Care Worker

As Social Care Workers, we are constantly providing support to others in our working day (or night!). There is no doubt that social care can be a demanding profession emotionally and this can have cumulative effects on our well-being if not discharged somehow. To ensure we are giving the best of ourselves to others, in and outside of work, we must remember to seek out support for ourselves on a regular basis. Some workplaces are better at this than others: some offer debriefing at the end of a shift or after challenging incidents while others are excellent at professional supervision. Regardless of the method of support offered, the onus is on us as the practitioner to seek out support when necessary to avoid the ill effects of stress and burnout. This can be difficult and I can offer from personal experience that sometimes the accumulation of stress can be so gradual that you don’t even realize you are close to burnout. Here are six places where support can be found:

1. Colleagues:
Speaking to colleagues about how you’re feeling can help to get things off your chest. Being open and honest with team members is the best policy as they may be having similar feelings. Mutual support can assist everyone to get through a difficult time.

2. Peer supporters:
Often, organisations will have identified peer supporters who have been trained to be a listening ear for employees who need to chat to someone informally. This is a good opportunity to chat about challenges and issues with someone who is doing a similar job as yourself but (hopefully!) not directly involved in your area of work. This is a good way to get things off your chest.

3. Supervisor, Informal:
Discussing incidents and issues with your supervisor in an informal way is a great way to seek out support. They may have experienced similar situations and offer some advice to help you with challenges.

4. Professional Supervision:
Discussing your work in formal supervision is also a good way to seek support. You will have the opportunity to reflect on your work and discuss possible alternative approaches to issues. Asking for assistance for an area you want to improve will ensure that you receive support in most cases.

5. External Supervision:
It is possible to use an external service such as Trust Consultancy to seek support and guidance with your professional development. An independent social care consultant can assist you to enhance learning from practice as well as set long and short-term goals for yourself. This is useful if you are not receiving the supervision you need or if you prefer supervision independently from your workplace.

6. Employee Assistance Programme:
Many companies employ the services of an EAP, the information for which should be easily accessible in your workplace. An EAP is a set of professional services specifically designed to support staff and improve wellness and healthy functioning in the workplace. The EAP can assist by identifying and resolving personal concerns, including, but not limited to, health, marital, family, financial, alcohol, drug, legal, emotional, stress, or other personal issues that may affect job performance. The onus is on the employee make initial contact with the EAP service and an appointment will be made with an appropriate professional. The EAP is free, usually up to six sessions in a calendar year and completely confidential.

Take care of yourself and consider seeking support whenever possible.