Friends colleagues having a chat

Taking care of ourselves: When is it time to HALT?


By Anoushka Farouk | August 29, 2019

Care staff and registered managers are increasingly suffering from stress, are over-worked and are running on empty.

Constant pressure to perform to regulatory standards is a common cause of this stress for registered managers and added pressure can contribute to increasing workloads and unmanageable hours.

 

Stress is the number one offender for deterioration of mental health and can often lead to a number of related illnesses. We have to ask, how can we expect our registered managers to give care to others when they rarely have time to care for themselves?

Identifying the triggers for unmanageability is an essential first step – so what are they? And at what point do we need to tell ourselves to H.A.L.T?

H.A.L.T – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.

 

Trigger 1 – Hungry

Registered managers are busy. They spend their time rushing around on their feet all day, on long shifts or dashing from home to home to deliver care. Even managing mountains of paperwork in the office can mean no time for breaks and rarely time to eat proper meals.

Being hungry can affect clarity of mind, patience and energy levels – key requirements for such demanding roles.

Ongoing malnutrition can easily arise from not having time to eat properly, and can lead to deficiencies that affect a number of health issues, including low immunity levels and poor muscle or bone health.

As a person gets unwell physically, this can play a part in feeling under the weather mentally.

Registered managers need to take extra care of themselves in order to be fit and well to care for others.

Hungry? Sit down for a moment and nourish yourself.

 

Trigger 2 – Angry

Caring takes a lot of patience, mental strength and tolerance.

Often, registered managers face challenging behaviour from people using the service, as well as difficulties implementing new systems, procedures, regulations and technologies.

There are a number of things that even those who have the patience of a saint can find irritating at times. It’s only human.

When angry – it’s time to take a breather. Count to 10, take a walk, play some music or simply HALT for a moment and appreciate what an amazing job you are doing.

 

Trigger 3 – Lonely

It can be a very lonely world as a registered manager.

Working long shifts, sometimes with little interaction with others, can be emotionally exhausting and isolating. Facing unending pressures to perform and to exceed standards can also somehow alienate you from your staff.

Feeling alone? It’s time to HALT. Get out of the office and make everyone – colleagues, residents and yourself – a cup of tea.

Appreciate your role, the community you nurture, and be a part of it. Don’t take all the pressure on your own shoulders.

 

Trigger 4 – Tired

So often, tiredness can make us grumpy, depressed, angry, irritable or emotional.

Add any of the other triggers to the mix, say hunger, and you’re heading for an unmanageable slump in productivity – and more importantly in self-care.

Tiredness can be very damaging and lead to all sorts of mental strain. It will always be a challenge to address this in such a demanding role and such a shortage of staff.

This is probably the hardest trigger to address at a time when our sector is, frankly, struggling, but there’s always time to take a five minute break and do some breathing exercises or something that helps you feel more energised.

Thankfully there are great initiatives out there working to challenge the status quo of the social care sector, from recruitment to awareness campaigns.

There are more and more organisations working for the good of the workforce and raising the profile of care staff to encourage a better future.

Until there are real changes for the working conditions and pay of the social care workforce, we need to be more aware of the mental health strains that this profession endures.

Whilst it may not be possible to HALT every time you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired, being aware of our physical, mental and emotional needs and just noticing how we are feeling can be the first step in being kinder to ourselves and listening to our bodies and minds.

Anoushka Farouk, Director of Market Engagement, everyLIFE Technologies

Support care workers in need during COVID-19. Donate to the Care Workers' Charity Emergency Fund. Donate