Improving children’s social care staff wellbeing through reflexive peer group supervision and critical incident debrief Southampton Children and Families Social Care

This project was funded between January 2019 and January 2020.

  • Project led by Southampton Children and Families Social Care, in partnership with Southampton Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.
  • Aiming to improve staff wellbeing, recruitment and retention.
  • Will introduce access to a regular, contained, safe space to reflect on the social and emotional impact of their work with clients, and a debrief service for helping staff to deal with the impact of traumatic events. 

There are significant difficulties in staff recruitment and retention in social care services. Research suggests this can be due to staff not feeling adequately supported or valued.

When staff wellbeing is not prioritised, there is an increasing possibility of staff burnout, compassion fatigue, and secondary trauma, which impacts negatively on staff wellbeing and the quality of the service delivered to clients. 

Understanding and normalising emotional, behavioural, physical and cognitive symptoms and access to social support are significant factors associated with reducing the risk of trauma responses. This project will implement a new pathway of staff support for those dealing with complex cases and high levels of trauma. 

Reflexive peer group supervision will be available for all staff in children’s social care. There will be around 22 groups, across the teams in the service, with between six to eight people, and a maximum of 12. The groups will meet regularly every six weeks.

The sessions will be facilitated by professionals with therapeutic experience, who are not associated with the management of the teams. The sessions will provide a safe space to reflect on the social and emotional impact of staff members’ work with clients who have complex needs.

Critical incident debriefs will also be available, which will ensure all staff have a space to process significant traumatic events in a safe, evidence-based manner. This will help to normalise emotional responses, broaden social support and identify coping strategies.

Contact information

For more information about this project, please contact Dr Emma Selwood, Clinical Psychologist, Southampton Children and Families Social Care.

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