Supporting wellbeing and positive mental health

Efforts to support wellbeing should not just be seen as a short-term response to COVID-19, but a sustained commitment to tackle long-term drivers of poor staff experience, health and wellbeing. Social care employers and managers need to have access to tools that can support and enhance the mental health and wellbeing of themselves and their staff, both now and in the future. 

Case studies

Central Bedfordshire Workforce wellbeing matters

Central Bedfordshire Council has identified peer and system-wide support as central to the wellbeing of adult social care staff. Central Bedfordshire worked with Bath Spa University to inform the development of the Bath Spa Healthier Outcomes at Work app and wellbeing toolkit, which was first launched in October 2019 and has been updated and enhanced to ensure its content is as helpful as possible for staff working during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is available to all staff in the Adult Social Care department.

The wellbeing app provides information on the signs of stress, ways to improve wellbeing and signposts to sources of further wellbeing assistance and local wellbeing events. It also provides staff with the opportunity to submit feedback to inform the council’s approach to wellbeing. Feedback can be submitted through the app, anonymously if preferred, and is sent to the Senior Management Team.

In addition to the app, Central Bedfordshire has developed a wellbeing programme which is available through a central learning system. The wellbeing programme includes bookable support sessions, reading material and on demand content covering topics such as sleep, self-care, and resilience, and access to the Employee Assistance Programme.

There are also courses targeted towards managers on supporting the wellbeing of staff. Wellbeing and resilience tools have also been developed for and shared with providers. Recent sessions run in partnership with the charity MIND include ‘Support for yourself and others as an Employee’, ‘Support for yourself and others as a manager’, and ‘See the signs’, and these have had a combined attendance of over 300 employees.

The council has also been working with Bedfordshire Wellbeing Service to develop sessions on trauma for frontline workers and has established a wellbeing group to address other wellbeing matters, including the impact of home working on wellbeing, and the introduction of mental health first aiders in the workplace.

Contact: Leire Agirre, Head of Safeguarding and Principal Social Worker


Isle of Wight provider wellbeing offer

Isle of Wight Council, with the Isle of Wight Care Partnership, Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group, Mountbatten Hospice and the Care Quality Commission, has created a set of wellbeing resources for care providers and social care staff to help them to process and manage the emotional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout the pandemic, the council has maintained regular contact with social care providers to ensure that they are aware of and understand developments in government guidance. As part of these relationships, the council identified a need for enhanced wellbeing support among providers, who have experienced significant stress during the pandemic, and some of whom have lost service users and staff to COVID-19.

The partners created a practice guide with strategies and techniques for wellbeing, which includes sections for employees and managers, and they meet fortnightly as an Ethics group to continue building on this work. The guide is divided into three tiers: tier one comprises self-care activities for calmness and resilience; tier two covers strategies for peer support and reflection; and tier three addresses signs of trauma, how to manage it, and when and where to refer staff to professional support services. Some of the self-care techniques included in the guide have been demonstrated in webinars to help people put this practical guidance into action, which has received very positive feedback. Resources specifically for unpaid carers are also in development.

More information: A rapid, multi-agency response to enhance care provider staff wellbeing and resilience during and post-lockdown

Contact: Simon Homes, Principal Social Worker for Adult Social Care

Design and Learning Centre - Kent County Council

It became clear that working through the pandemic was having a negative effect on the health and wellbeing of frontline care workers in Kent. Regular meetings with managers highlighted the concerns from workers and how stressful people were finding the changing COVID situation, not only in the workplace but at home too.

There were concerns from care workers and managers about personal finances, managing bereavements, access to specialist support and the stress that working during the pandemic was placing on workers’ health and wellbeing. Managers and commissioners were also concerned that the ongoing covid situation and burnout could lead to a delayed response and signs of PTSD arising in some workers.

The Design & Learning Centre (DLC) at Kent County Council decided to offer a number of easy to access, free support options for the sector: Kent County Council health and wellbeing support offer to the care sector in response to COVID-19. The council also partnered with a local hospice to provide a six-part part program via webinar to support managers and care workers who provide end of life care and/or were experiencing bereavement. 40 people of the 86 who applied were placed on the program and they have commissioned further sessions to meet the remaining demand. Kent also commissioned a specialist training provider to hold Resilience webinars, attended by 140 people, and PTSD small group sessions, attended by 39 people to date, to enable managers and workers to recognise the signs of PTSD, learn how to support those experiencing it, and receive tools and coping mechanisms.

For more information, contact Penny Lawlor, Social Care Workforce Manager

Hertfordshire County Council’s Wellbeing Plan for adult care services

Adult Care Services (ACS) recognised that staff on the frontline of responding to Covid faced challenges around uncertainty, working arrangements and personal anxiety that would continue to impact staff morale and wellbeing.

In 2020, ACS set out a Wellbeing Plan that complemented the council-wide offer and aimed to support this unique workforce through the difficult period, by encouraging teams to think creatively about ways to proactively support each other to maintain mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing. 

As well as more formal training interventions from organisations such as Mind, their plan incorporated ‘wellbeing branded’ activities that would support the Five evidenced steps that can help improve mental health and wellbeing, including:

Connect: virtual team lunch/coffee roulette and no agenda conversations – between peers and senior leaders Be Active: weekly keep fit class; TAB (Take A Break) Time/Step Away in the Day and protected hours Keep Learning: Boost your day craft sessions; book discussions; monthly Lunch n Learn sessions

>The plan was a mix of centrally coordinated activity and engagement, supported by Wellbeing Champions and support for teams to support themselves. It also included a resource hub with helplines and support relevant to ASC staff.

For more information, contact Sharon Robinson, Head of Information, Advice & Engagement

  • Take Notice: Signposting to Headspace App, mindfulness mini webinars
  • Give: Tuesday check-in; buddying, staff recognitions schemes