Cork charity provides emotional support to frontline health workers

10 April 2020
By Bryan Smyth

Health News

Cork training charity, Ag Eisteacht, SHEP (The Social & Health Education Project) and Dr Nicola O’ Sullivan, social care and wellbeing specialist, have launched a series of free, on-line self-care, reflective practice and peer support opportunities to support frontline practitioners during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ‘Supporting the Heart of Frontline Practice’ on-line sessions include 90-minute group reflective practice professional learning and support circles, 40-minute individual reflective practice sessions and 30-minute care spaces for teams or small groups.

All of the sessions have been created to support frontline workers’ personal resilience and self-care and to provide opportunities for individual and peer support during this unprecedented time.

They are the first in a series of initiatives by the collaborative group to provide a safe space where practitioners can be supported.

Dr Maeve Hurley, founder of Ag Eisteacht, said: “We have been working together over the last few weeks to develop a plan to use our collective expertise to support colleagues on the frontline in healthcare, social care and the community as they respond to COVID-19.

“In the rush of activity on the frontline now and in the coming weeks, there will be little time to reflect on and to register the deeply painful situations that are being faced by practitioners. This is an invitation for those working on the frontline to come into safe, on-line spaces to meet and to think and feel about how it is for them and to reflect on what supports and comforts them during difficult times.”

From left to right: Dr Nicola O’ Sullivan, social care and wellbeing specialist; Jim Sheehan, director of SHEP (Social and Health Education Project), and Dr Maeve Hurley, founder of Ag Eisteacht are offering frontline practitioners free on-line self-care, reflective practice and peer support opportunities with their collaborative ‘Supporting the heart of frontline practice’ initiative.

This collaboration comprises practitioners who have shared values and a common interest in frontline practitioner care and development. Each brings expertise and experience in individual and group supervision, reflective practice and emotional wellbeing.

Dr Nicola O’ Sullivan, said:

“While many organisations have systems in place to support the psychological impact of the work on frontline workers, they are likely to be considerably stretched at this time. We are hoping that our interventions will act as an additional support for organisations and individuals as they navigate these unprecedented waters.”

Jim Sheehan, director of SHEP, said:

“Making small and regular individual and group reflective spaces, which can hold some of the emotions and anxieties frontline workers are experiencing, is vital. Our sessions will provide opportunities for workers to keep in touch, to practice small amounts of psychological self-care and to try to maintain a psychological safety in their workspace.”

The on-line sessions are open to all frontline practitioners in health, social care and community-response Covid-19 roles. Full details and bookings can be made via or by emailing

A one-day seminar on reflective practice for frontline practitioners, ‘Reconnecting with the heart of frontline practice’, will follow on 26th November 2020 in Cork to open a national conversation and awareness of the perception and realities of frontline practice.

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