HEALTH WORKERS: suffering from COVID19 overwork

11 November 2020
By Mary Bermingham

On Thursday 26th November 2020 (Thanksgiving Day), Ag Eisteacht, Dr Nicola O’ Sullivan and The Social and Health Education Project (SHEP) are holding a one-day seminar and virtual workshops to support frontline workers’ health and wellbeing.

The ‘Reconnecting with the heart of frontline practice’ seminar is open to all frontline practitioners and managers working in health, education, social care and justice sector roles in public, private or community organisations.

This event has been approved for CPD recognition by the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) and by Social Care Ireland.

This is the second in a series of collaborative initiatives by the group to raise awareness of the perception and realities of frontline practice. Through a series of stimulating presentations and interactive virtual workshops, the event will focus on enabling practitioners from all disciplines to develop and sustain reflective practice.

It aims to create a safe space and time for them to gather as a community to reflect on the values and sense of mission and purpose that drew them to their work in the first place, and how they can reconnect with this and keep motivated and well.

Dr Caroline Elton, Chartered Psychologist and author of the best-selling book, ‘Also Human – The Inner Lives of Doctors,’ will deliver the keynote speech: ‘Also human – the inner lives of frontline practitioners.’ She said:

“If the Covid crisis has taught has anything, it’s the centrality of care in all of our lives. What society hasn’t yet learnt is that carers can’t care for others if no one cares for them. That’s why this seminar is so vital.”

Dr Maeve Hurley, founder of Ag Eisteacht, said: “We are creating this space for frontline workers to offer them an opportunity to think and feel, as they may not have had much opportunity to do that. So, it’s kind of like a pause. Creating a safe space where people feel able to get in touch with what’s going on for them can be very liberating, and I think then the learning comes.

“With many services under resourced and under pressure, there often isn’t time for frontline workers to stop and think about how their work is impacting on them. We understand how challenging frontline work can be. Our vision is to create a safe space where we can all ‘hold each other in mind’. “

Dr Nicola O’Sullivan will explore ‘Telling it like it is; emotional experience and reflection at the frontline’.

Dr Colm O’Connor, Clinical Psychologist, will talk about ‘Imagination and self-compassion in practice’.

Dr Nicola O’Sullivan said:

“When working at the frontline engaging with people who are in pain or struggling, aspects of that pain can get into the worker and can sometimes get into the workspaces. Being in roles where your heart has to be in your work can be hard to shoulder alone, and the interaction of your inner life with workplace situations can be painful, so it’s about acknowledging this and coming together to reflect on how we can sustain and support ourselves while supporting others.

” It seems that today more than ever, we need space to stop and think, to observe and to reflect. But it’s very hard to do that so I think that reflective spaces such as this offer an opportunity to slow down.”

Jim Sheehan, Director of SHEP said:

“My experiences of reflective spaces like this is if somebody connects with the reflective practice process and has a good experience, they go back to their workplace – whether a teacher, a nurse or a social care practitioner – and become a champion or an agent of change in their working environment.

“Self-compassion is also hugely important so this seminar will provide time and a supportive environment for attendees to think about what might support them in their work and keep them well.”

The seminar is from 10am to 4pm and cost of this one-day event is €50, with certificates for all attendees. Places are limited and booking is via Eventbrite.

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