In this section we introduce you to what we mean by resilience and how it connects with wellbeing, what influences our resilience and why it is important to develop our resilience.
Daniel Oliveira, Director of Quality Assurance and Governance at the CWC Group, reflects on understanding the individual nature of resilience and the present potential for real change in care homes.
What is resilience?
Resilience is the ability to positively manage significant challenges or adverse events. Our focus group participants highlighted how as carers they found it difficult to take time to focus on themselves. Their priority was the people in their care. They suggested a culture of wellbeing was needed to manage challenges in a positive way. This should be seen as a priority by individual staff, their organisations and society in general.
Why is resilience important?
Resilience plays a vital role in enhancing wellbeing for those working in health and social care. Working in the community caring for people who themselves can be facing significant challenges can be difficult. Being resilient means being able to adapt to challenges avoid lasting distress while providing the best circumstances for those people in your care.
How do we build resilience?
We may have attributes that make us more resilient at certain times and not at others. However, resilience is something that changes over time and can be built and developed at any point in your life. Many of the practices in this resource (such as mindfulness and yoga) will support you in building your resilience over time. The special bond that you as health and social care staff develop with people in your care is important in building and maintaining resilience. Your beliefs, the support of family, friends and communities along with the organisations within which you work and local and national policies also impact on your resilience.
How can increasing resilience help us to manage challenges?
Resilience can help to positively change perspective in the face of adversity. The challenge cannot be taken away but how we view it and adapt can help us to recover and grow from the challenge. Being resilient means being able to use our personal strengths and experiences in a positive way and negotiate for resources to meet these challenges.
What are the benefits of being more resilient?
Research has shown that more resilient individuals have less burnout, stress, distress and fatigue. They may also have better general well-being levels of happiness and job satisfaction. They may feel they give better care and may be more inclined to want to stay in the job they are in. Resilient individuals are better able to manage a work life balance which our focus group participants identified as core to resilience.
Dr. Donald Macaskill, CEO Scottish Care, reflecting on the value of care homes asks ‘Is the state of our attitudes to care homes reflective of a deeper distrust and cynicism about the value of older age in general?’ Dr. Macaskill also discusses value recognition and future proofing for the sector. The impact of the pandemic is enduring particularly for staff working in social care. As a society we have a responsibility to enable social care staff to recover and renew and at its most basic we need a system where ‘staff are valued, paid properly and recognised as intrinsic to our communities.’
Mr Paul Rooney, Northern Ireland Social Care Council, emphasises the importance of social care staff as the ‘eyes and ears of the whole system‘.
While this is a resource focused on individual resilience we don’t live in isolation.
Credit: Developed with permission from the Trauma Resource Institute.
Gary Mitchell, MBE is a Reader at Queen’s University Belfast. Gary uses his experience as a care home nurse and educator to discuss why building resilience is important and strategies he uses to build and sustain resilience.
Reaffirm our compassion for ourselves, the people we care for, our colleagues, the community organisation and profession.
Tip: we can do this by making time to for self-care using the practices in this resource will help foster self-compassion, a necessary starting point for building resilience.
Regain control and recognise our capabilities. The more in control we feel, the better able we are to adapt to challenges.
Tip: try the breathing and yoga practices in this resource to help foster your own sense of personal control.
Take time to assess the situation and choose how to respond rather than react? ‘This wasn’t planned but can I realign my goals to suit this situation?’
Tip: do a mindfulness practice then reflect on what you might need to do next.
Who can you speak to in order to get the resources needed? Is there someone you might be able to talk to?
Tip: find someone in a similar situation to you and arrange to have coffee with them – it can be over lunch, after a meeting etc.
Reflect on how you managed the challenges. What resources were used that you can tap into again? What could have been done better, what strengths did you demonstrate that perhaps surprised you?
Tip: Art journaling can help you focus and deal with your emotions following a challenging situation. You might like to try this and then write a reflective account.
Visit the SOS section of this resource for an introduction to some practices that may help you to build and maintain your resilience. These practices have been shown to enhance feelings of control, allowing the release of tension and the restructuring of thoughts and the ability to adapt to stressful adverse situations.
Resilience needs to be nurtured and sustained. It is a process and like a plant that needs watered, your resilience needs boosted.
In the Maintaining Resilience section of this resource you will find practices that you can build into your daily life to help maintain resilience.