Free online coaching for frontline medical staff

2 April 2020
By Bryan Smyth

Connect a Coach was founded to offer coaching to all frontline and emergency services staff. It is a free service for nurses, doctors, first responders, health care assistants, pharmacists and emergency services, essentially anyone on the frontline dealing with the impact of COVID 19.

As Leo Varadkar said on St. Patrick’s Day “never will so many ask so much of so few.” It was this statement that got Ailbhe Harrington and Karen Hayes mulling over how they could give to those who are being asked to give so much. Ailbhe, a Master Certified Coach and Coach Trainer, and her co-founder Karen Hayes, Associate Certified Coach brainstormed how they could answer the ‘Be on Call for Ireland’ initiative. Over the course of a week they put the call out to their network of qualified coaches, and so Connect a Coach was born.

Coaching is a relationship where the total focus is on the individual; where you can reflect on what will help you to resource and connect with yourself. A coaching session is a space that helps you to focus on the learning you can gain from your experiences and from that move forward. Coaching accepts that the past has already occurred and is more interested in the path and direction that can be set for the future.

Coaching is not counselling

It’s really important to differentiate between the two. However, where it is evident that counselling is the required intervention, or an alternative therapy, clients will be referred on.

How does it work? Simply visit There is no registration requirement, no approvals process and no long waiting times. On the site you’ll find a directory of coaches. Select a coach, and you’re brought into their online calendar where you can book a 45-minute slot. The coach will confirm the slot within 2 hours and send you details for your virtual or phone session. There are a large number of coaches working with Connect a Coach allowing them to guarantee coaching availability between 7am and 9pm, 7 days a week. There are up to 4 sessions available entirely free. If you wish to continue coaching beyond the fourth session, you can engage with your coach separately.

Ailbhe said

“Our frontline staff are working in very changed conditions, on many levels, in remote testing centres, with new colleagues, dealing with an illness we haven’t known much about until now. Our frontline staff are human and dealing with all of this can be challenging. Now more than ever, they need to be fully resourced. That’s where coaching can help.”

Great rigour has been applied in selecting the panel of coaches. They all fulfil certain eligibility criteria so that Connect a Coach can guarantee quality of service and a strict adherence to confidentiality, supervision and ethics. Also, we are grateful to be supported by HSE staff, who will take all coaches through an understanding and awareness of psychological first aid.

This is a voluntary operation that has been mobilised at breakneck speed, because there is a requirement now. There’s a considerable degree of professionalism behind it. The team at Connect a Coach are highly professional and have great empathy for those we depend on to keep our loved ones alive and healthy. There is a huge acknowledgement of the mammoth task being taken by our front line workers right now. Connect a Coach is waiting in the wings to help pick up our exhausted heroes when they might fall, to help keep them resourced, or to just listen when they most need to be heard.

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