We spoke to Tina Henry, Deputy Director of Public Health at Devon County Council, who reached out to our Lead Clinical Psychologist, Jo Cheffey, for wellbeing support for her team. Tina told us more about the experience and why she would recommend the Devon Wellbeing Hub to others.
What made you get in touch with the Devon Wellbeing Hub?
As part of Public Health and being involved in the pandemic response we were really aware of how long it was going to last and how we needed some different support to what was available. We’re used to having an Employee Assistance Programme and various other wellbeing offers but it felt that wasn’t quite enough in terms of support. We also wanted to find something to help the team to come together, work together and reflect on our feelings.
Was it easy to book a session?
It was so easy. The Hub were really timely and responsive and worked it around what suited us best. Our session was set up very quickly and we had follow up feedback soon after.
It was great we didn’t have to wait for ages because once you’ve made that decision to reach out for help you really need it. It was an immediate response and during the pandemic that was really important in terms of keeping people well and at work.
What did your session involve?
We had two sessions during the start of COVID-19, with about 12-14 of us attending. These were both held on MS Teams which was not a problem as we had already adapted to this way of working. Session one was a workshop that focused on why we were experiencing certain feelings and reflecting on those. Session two was a reflective session because we were really keen to not leave the team with unanswered questions while we were still in the midst of the pandemic response. The gap between the sessions worked really well for the team.
We also had a follow up session a year later because we had hoped the pandemic would be over by then, but obviously wasn’t. We were able to have this session face-to-face. It was with the same group of people which really helped in terms of regrouping and thinking what it felt like a year later. We were also able to try and bring some closure which is quite hard.
The sessions were definitely tailored to our needs. One of the key areas we wanted to work on was discovering what was behind the feelings that people were having. Jo absolutely adapted our sessions to give it a background context and the evidence around why we were feeling the way we were.
Jo also set up some tailored sessions for other groups including a session as part of an away day, a shorter but important session with the response team, and some of our colleagues from the council had a bespoke session.
Did the team find the session beneficial?
Absolutely. I think understanding why we felt the way we did was so beneficial. We were reassured that it’s ok to not be ok. We were able to know why sometimes we felt angry and that was natural and it passes. We’ve talked about wellbeing but in a softer sense, so understanding why that was playing out was really helpful for people. It was hard for people to reflect so deeply on how they felt and why but that was a signal to me of how important it was and people aren’t over it. They’re still working on it and feeling quite troubled by some of the things they’ve seen. This is why I think it’s really important we had that session later too.
I think the really important thing about the offer was that we could have tried to do it ourselves but we had someone who’s trusted and an expert because we’re not experts. It’s really important to reach out and not try to do it ourselves. I don’t think I would have been able to manage that situation myself.
What were the outcomes from the session?
We do keep in touch with one another and reflect back quite often on how we are. Wellbeing is front and centre of what we try and do and we have a strong framework on how we support one another. Everyone has different needs and we’re always looking at what more we can bring.
Would you recommend the Hub to others?
Yes I absolutely would. The support from the Hub was very timely and well considered in terms of an offer and unique to what I’ve seen before. I think it’s also really valuable they offer 1:1 support for people who may need it. It’s important to seek the support and expertise and don’t think you have to do this alone.
Our sessions were really valued and really important and will sit in my memory as terms of part of the response. I feel proud that we did it as a team and grateful that the Hub had the offer because it really bought some closure for people and a strong level of support.
Jo Cheffey said: “Our workshops and reflective sessions are tailored to your team’s needs and are devised in consultation with the referring manager or the team themselves.
“Depending on the themes agreed, we generate an interactive session to encourage the group to think about the emotional impact of the work they do and how it affects them individually and as a team. Having some space away from the day-to-day work can help people reflect on the work they do and how important it is to communicate, share these experiences and support each other. As facilitators it is our job to create safe and confidential space to do this.
“The Public Health team were a great group to work with as they were so committed and passionate about the work they do. It was great to catch up with them again a year later and have some time to reflect on the huge efforts their team made to support public services across Devon during the pandemic and take some time to process and share the emotional impact of doing this work. It was a pleasure and a privilege to work alongside them.”
Get in touch
If you work in healthcare, social care or the police in Devon and lead a team who would benefit from support, please get in touch by calling 0300 303 5455 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, mentioning ‘team support’. If you are looking for 1:1 support, you can fill out the simple referral form on the Devon Wellbeing Hub website.
If you’ve been supported by the Devon Wellbeing Hub and would like to share your experience, please get in touch with Lauren Batten, Staff Wellbeing Communications and Engagement Coordinator, at email@example.com.