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Supporting children and families social care staff wellbeing through reflexive peer group supervision and critical incident debrief Southampton City Council Children and Families Services

About 2 mins to read
  • Led by Southampton City Council Children and Families Services, in partnership with Solent NHS Trust.
  • Introduced a regular, contained, safe space to reflect on the social and emotional impact of social care work, and a debrief service to help staff to deal with the impact of traumatic events.
  • All social work teams within Southampton Children and Families Services have access to the pathway, which will be promoted as part of a system-wide focus on staff wellbeing.
  • Funding was from January 2019 and April 2020.

Working with families with challenging life and trauma experiences can have a significant impact on the psychological wellbeing of the professionals supporting them. This can cause problems with recruitment and retention of children and families social care staff, high levels of staff sickness, staff burnout, and secondary trauma.

This project involved the implementation of a new pathway of staff support for those dealing with complex cases and high levels of trauma. It provides staff with a safe space to be able to discuss and process the high level of emotional and social impact of their work, and develop reflective practice, peer support and effective coping strategies.

All social work teams within Southampton Children and Families Services now have access to regular reflexive peer group supervision, supported by a team of trained facilitators. A team of 13 staff members have been trained to provide critical incident debriefs to all staff, and 18 individual debrief sessions have been provided.

Additional training in supervision skills has also been developed for managers.

Increased demand on social services, changing structures and staff turnover has impacted the ability to prioritise the project within the system. However, staff wellbeing has now been identified as a priority and the project will be embedded within the core business of Southampton Children and Families Services.

The project will be presented and relaunched as part of a staff conference and system-wide focus on staff wellbeing. 

Contact information

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

About this programme

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