The latest government advice means that millions of people are continuing to work from home during the pandemic.
This has created benefits for some. However, working from home can be particularly difficult for social workers and third sector workers who are now simultaneously responding to a rise in safeguarding concerns as a result of the pandemic and supporting adults and children most at risk from abuse and neglect, from their own homes.
These roles have always been challenging, but have become especially difficult without the face- to-face emotional support of colleagues and managers.
Below, we have discussed how organisations can support their employees’ mental health and identified practices to support individuals in safeguarding their wellbeing whilst working from home.
Whilst these tips can be applied to a range of industries, they are particularly focused upon those professions where employees are responding to safeguarding concerns on a regular basis.
How can Organisations and Managers Safeguard the Wellbeing of their Staff?
- Keep in contact with your team. Schedule in informal coffee breaks where you can talk and offer informal support to one another.
- Assign an emergency point of contact and share this with your team. This will allow people to get support quickly if they need it.
- The Professional Association for Social Work and Social Workers recommendations offering virtual debriefing sessions with frontline staff. These may need to be daily in some cases. Many professionals, such as social workers, teachers and support workers, are dealing with extraordinary risks and circumstances. They need to have access to guaranteed and supportive opportunities to discuss what they are going through.
- Consider developing a buddy system, whereby staff are paired or ‘buddied’ up with someone who they can specifically go to for peer-support. This can help to alleviate pressure on managers as the single source of support and ensure there is another place to go.
- Managers can download Mind’s Wellness Action Plan, which allows them to actively discuss mental health in the workplace.
How can Individuals’ Safeguard their Mental Health and Wellbeing when Working from Home?
- The Professional Association for Social Work and Social Workers advises that you check in on yourself daily. ‘Do I feel ok today?’ If not, identify why not, and any support/change required. This can be a helpful routine to get into and can help you to monitor your wellbeing over the course of the pandemic.
- Do not neglect leave, breaks and days off. This will ensure that you are well-rested to be able to look after yourself and others.
- Maintain a personal routine, including home hobbies, exercise, speaking to friends/family and sleep. Maintaining a work/life balance is also important in ensuring you can continue to support others.
- Be flexible in your approach to accommodate home working. Take breaks away from the screen and if you do not have access to the appropriate IT systems, consider writing notes in word and uploading them later, and recognise that this is ok.
- Ensure that you have a clear remit for your role, and say ‘no’ if you cannot take on more work. Some services will be overwhelmed or closed during this pandemic, and you should not be required to cover all of this additional work.
- Continue to make time with your manager for supervision sessions. Supervision is a place to reflect on your practice and consider how your work is personally impacting you.
Where else can you access support?
- The NHS have produced seven top tips to support healthy home working.
- Mental Health Foundation have created downloadable advice about working from home during the pandemic.
- The Ann Craft Trust have produced advice about safeguarding your wellbeing whilst working from home during Covid-19.
- The Health and Safety Executive have created additional support for those working from home.
- Mind have developed advice and support for you and your team to help manage your wellbeing during this ever-changing situation – from working at home to supporting team members with children.
The fantastic work of professionals supporting adults and young people at risk is invaluable within our society.
It is important that their mental health and wellbeing is prioritised to ensure that they can best safeguard adults and young people at risk and minimise harm.