By Patrick Melville | September 7, 2021
For many people, the act of saying ‘thank you’ is within our conscious; it’s an instinct, a means of communication. Yet, how we deliver the message to our care workforce can have a lasting impact on morale and work ethic.
In the first blog of a new series, Patrick Melville, Media Director at TAP (Thank and Praise), explains why the giving of thanks supports good mental health and wellbeing in care environments.
We know that care workers look after some of society’s most vulnerable people; however, their selfless work often goes unnoticed. According to a Social Care survey (2021) conducted by the Institute of Health and Social Care Management, 90% of care workers said that they don’t receive the recognition they deserve.
This is a concerning statistic and underpins an urgent need for the vital roles performed by care workers to be better understood and recognised in society. One reason for the lack of recognition is that people find it hard to find the right way to show their appreciation to a specific care worker.
We also know that carers who work for organisations where mental health and wellbeing is embedded within their organisation perform better – which is good news for everyone.
One way to improve mental health and wellbeing is through providing residents, clients and their relatives with the ability to easily and regularly share their gratitude with care staff.
‘It’s important that our amazing social care colleagues are recognised and thanked along with our NHS colleagues, so it’s great to have a platform in TAP to be able to do that. Take a minute out of your day to tell them how much you appreciate what they do please – you never know, your words might just be the boost needed on that day,’ says Jane Brightman, Social Care Manager of the Institute of Healthcare and Social Care Management.
I’d like to share with you six reasons why the giving of thanks supports good mental health and wellbeing in care environments.
But first, some science. Did you know that the neuro chemical in our body called dopamine is one of the key drivers for our ‘happiness’? It is a neurotransmitter that connects our brain and cells through nerve signals. Dopamine makes our body come alive when we get reward and enjoyment. The more we feel it, the more likely we will continue down that path.
To actively drive dopamine in ourselves, we need to find the actions that we enjoy. Each of these actions have 6 Cs: 1) Celebration: 2) Certainty: 3) Confidence: 4) Connection: 5) Contribution; and 6) Choice.
- CELEBRATION. Over the past two years, TAP’s thanking platform has collected and shared thousands of positive messages for care staff, such as this one:
To: All Nacas members (National Association of Care & Support Workers)
‘Thank you for everything you do. All of you go above and beyond the call of duty. Certainly not given enough credit for the extra hard work you do. So here is a big heartfelt thank you for the loving care you give. Your time and effort is truly appreciated.’
Imagine you or your colleagues received this message – wouldn’t it give you a smile?
2) CERTAINTY. COVID-19 has taken a large amount of certainty away from us all. Through this confusion, communities are grabbing onto the ‘certainty’ that giving and receiving of gratitude provides. We will continue to provide certainty to the care sector through TAP long after COVID-19 has gone.
3) CONFIDENCE. This gives people the power to make a difference. When care staff feel more valued, they have greater resilience and increased confidence in their abilities and in the difference they make to those they care for. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athletes’ self-esteem, an essential component to optimal performance.
4) CONNECTION. It runs through our social animal instincts to socialise and support each other. We rely on speaking to others and, when we don’t share, we encourage negative thoughts in our mind to translate each scenario, which can negatively impact on a person’s mental health. TAP makes it easier for anyone to connect with individuals and organisations to share appreciation, including peer-to-peer thanks.
5) CONTRIBUTION. One of TAP’s key goals is to make sure those being thanked understand how much they contribute to our society. This also has a positive effect on staff recruitment and retention. According to the Harvard Business Review, ‘Feeling genuinely appreciated lifts people up. At the most basic level, it makes us feel safe, which is what frees us to do our best work. It’s also energising. When our value feels at risk, as it so often does, that worry becomes preoccupying, which drains and diverts our energy from creating value.’
Here’s an example of how carers are making a significant contribution and creating value within a care setting:
‘All our incredible and truly remarkable staff have worked tirelessly throughout these challenging times to ensure our residents’ safety and wellbeing whilst observing the very highest infection control measures. We are so appreciative of their invaluable contributions,’ say Jay and Palvi Dodhia, Providers at Serene Care.
6) CHOICE. Saying words of gratitude is everyone’s ‘choice’ to make and a positive way to support those who care for our loved ones. Hear from a care sector leader what impact gratitude has on her staff when one of her resident’s relatives chooses to say thank you:
‘At Swallowcourt, we have always recognised the commitment and dedication of our front-line nurses, carers and ancillary staff, who each and every day provide the highest level of compassionate care and support across all of our homes. In recent times, their dedication, commitment and resilience in the face of adversity has been unwavering and we are delighted to use TAP to further reinforce our gratitude and recognition of the difference that they make to the lives of those we are privileged to care for,’ says Leah Marsh, Managing Director at Swallowcourt.
CMM is delighted to welcome TAP as a regular contributor and, in their next feature, TAP will be sharing some creative ways of saying thank you to care workers!