With every safeguarding course I deliver, I always talk about the importance of looking after ourselves and work colleagues and I pose the question “who has safeguarding supervision in place in their organisation?”. Sadly, the majority of course attendees confuse this with workload supervision or don’t have any formal structure in place.
When I joined the police in 1990 there was a lack of awareness of the importance of looking after the wellbeing of officers working within a safeguarding role, it is encouraging to read and hear that things are changing within the service I loved.
Even now the date the 7th of February 2002 is etched on my brain when my partner- a serving Police Officer- died aged 47 years of a heart attack whilst on duty working away from home. My partner and I were working with a large team investigating non-recent child abuse. Many of the team members were working all of the country, some worked alone, some travelled abroad to investigate and take statements from victims and survivors relating to their abuse as a child. Living out of a suitcase was commonplace for a couple of years for some of the team members. I know from frequent conversations with my partner that he would take advantage of the hotel fried breakfast every day and every evening whilst working away would end up in a bar, he also used to smoke.
Whilst no blame can be attributed to the cause of my partners’ heart attack and death, The British Heart Foundation recently published the following information about how stress could be linked to heart and circulatory disease:
Feeling stressed all the time could raise your risk of heart attack and stroke, according to a new study. The research, which is published in The Lancet, which has received widespread media coverage, claims to show for the first time how stress could be linked to heart and circulatory disease in humans.
Constant stress has been linked to higher activity in an area of the brain linked to processing emotions, and an increased likelihood of developing heart and circulatory disease.
The researchers, from Harvard University, suggested stress could be as important a risk factor as smoking or high blood pressure.
Emily Reeve, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “The link between stress and increased risk of developing heart disease has previously focused on the lifestyle habits people take up when they feel stressed such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol and overeating. Exploring the brain’s management of stress and discovering why it increases the risk of heart disease will allow us to develop new ways of managing chronic psychological stress. This could lead to ensuring that patients who are at risk are routinely screened and that their stress is managed effectively”.
Safeguarding supervision would have definitely been an invaluable resource during the time of my Police team work. This would have provided staff with the opportunity to talk about the safeguarding investigations, and also know that this was their opportunity to talk about how they were coping with investigating traumatic events in people lives.
What is Safeguarding Supervision?
‘Supervision is an accountable process which supports, assures and develops the knowledge, skills and values of an individual, group or team. The purpose is to improve the quality of their work to achieve agreed objectives and outcomes’ (Providing effective supervision CWDC/Skills for Care 2007).
Safeguarding supervision is complementary to, but separate from, managerial supervision.
Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 states:
‘Effective professional supervision can play a critical role in ensuring a clear focus on a child’s welfare. Supervision should support professionals to reflect critically on the impact of their decisions on the child and their family’.
Effective supervision can help to:
- Promote and develop competence and skill in safeguarding practice
- Maintain a focus on the child
- Avoid the potential for ‘drift’/delay
- Provide an opportunity for exploring professional difference and challenging fixed views
- Review the evidence-base for agreed actions and decisions
- Address the emotional impact of the work
What is Workplace Wellbeing?
When organisations do a good job of their workplace wellbeing strategy, people are more likely to perform better, build more positive relationships, cope with their workload and work more creatively.
There are so many benefits to looking after your people, but CIPD’s Health and Wellbeing at Work survey identified the top three benefits that organisations see when increasing their focus on workplace wellbeing:
- Better employee morale and engagement
- A healthier and more inclusive culture
- Lower sickness absence
Managing My Workplace Wellbeing
I have certainly learnt the importance of managing stress and what is important in my life. Fitting in exercise is very hard when we are tired and stressed but with the help of my locally owned fitness centre called Pride Fitness and a superb fitness instructor called Lucy Andrews I am motivated to stay as fit as possible.
Working out in a group has mental, physical and emotional benefits that include the reduction of overall stress. I enjoy attending group exercise with Rachael Malone aerobics.
Playing the game of golf provides a fun, challenging and social activity that takes place in beautiful and serene natural environments, also for great for stress relief.
Professor Jenny Roe, environmental psychologist and Director of the Center for Design & Health, University of Virginia, said:
“Golf is one way of capturing a regular ‘dose’ of green space to boost your psychological wellbeing as well as your physical health. There’s a huge wealth of evidence, using robust, scientific methods, to show the benefits of ‘green exercise’ – exercise in the natural outdoors – as compared to, say, exercise in the gym or indoors.”
A number of studies have demonstrated how spending time in natural environments produces a wide range of physical and mental benefits, including lowering heart rates, blood pressure and inflammation, as well as reducing cortisol (the “stress hormone”) levels.
I am so proud to have recently donated funds to Pride Fitness gym to purchase an onsite AED defibrillator. This has been installed outside so that can also be accessed by local people, to cut the risk of the loss of a life in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest.
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