What Makes Us Different? – Clinical

At Care in Mind, there are many distinctive elements to how we do things, whether it’s our approach to therapeutic risk management or our specially trained clinical staff.

We are proud to offer care with a difference, and strive to ensure that our staff are well supported in doing the amazing job they do. Here, one of our Clinical Psychologists, Emma Williamson, shares why working for Care in Mind has differed from her previous experiences:

What makes us different?

Before coming to work here, I worked in other NHS services locally, and came to know about Care in Mind from working on an inpatient ward. We had referred some young people to the service, and I had heard good things. While I didn’t know anything in detail, there was just a general sense of the service being good. They seemed like a nice place to deal with and refer young people to.

So, when I saw a job advertised, I applied for it partly because it felt like somewhere I wanted to work, it seemed like a place that was very caring and compassionate and when I read up a little more, I really liked the therapeutic models and the general approach. Hearing about the homes, the environment provided, the ethos and how Care in Mind thinks about supporting young people just all sounded great. I thought, this is a place I would really like to work because it fits with everything that, during clinical training, you think you would like to be able to provide for someone.

Then, when I came to interview, what I really liked was that the Executive Management Group (EMG) at the time were all clinical with a background of working with young people in a clinical setting. They all seemed to really understand it from experience, and that is quite different to some other services, where sometimes those at the top making the decisions have not been able to have the clinical background experience, which really helps to provide a full understanding of what is important and needed. So, I really loved that from when the company had started, it had been clinicians who had created Care in Mind, and that their aims and ethos were based on that experience.

Also, in the years that I have worked here, I have experienced a real culture of openness, so it feels like it is okay to question. For example, if I was to say I think this process could be improved, it will then be a question of how can we better understand or act on that, and let’s look towards making changes. It’s not about doing things reactively, but more planning how we can understand something properly, how we can build processes around it, as well as considering what the research tells us and what kind of models are out there. There is a real commitment to working collaboratively, improving and understanding how to do things well.

How do you think the care we offer to young people is different compared to what other mental health residential services offer?

The complexity of how we understand young people, and the amount of time and attention we pay to really understanding them and what will help them individually to begin to be able to live well independently is definitely different here to my experiences in other settings. Having been through clinical training and worked in a variety of other environments, I think I hadn’t truly understood how to unpick and formulate risk, and to plan well to support someone with that until I joined Care in Mind. I had seen a lot of structured tick box assessments, descriptions of risk behaviours and incident logs. Here it is very different. At Care in Mind, we look a lot more at the context and what the function is, and how we might be able to support people in managing it differently.

Being with Care in Mind is certainly the first time I have truly felt therapeutic risk management has been understood and embraced. There’s a lot of talk about it in other care settings, but there are often difficulties in implementing it and there’s often a fear of ‘what if’. I think that having that least restrictive practice model and having the collaborative way of managing things together, and that understanding of what is going on with people is just brilliant; it makes things feel so much better.

What do you think has been our key to success?

I think we have a lot of fabulous staff throughout the company that have strived hard and are dedicated to providing the best care for our young people. Also, having seen across services what can influence culture, the commitment of the EMG is just amazing. Their ability and dedication to openness and to promoting a culture where it is possible to question, understand, and try new things out to strive to improve is something very special. I think some of it comes down to personality, but also many years of experience and really caring about striving to do the best possible for the staff teams and young people we support. So, there is certainly something really special about those people who are leading the ship! I think there is always that dedication to improve things and make changes where they need to be made, and I think that is really what has gotten us to this point.

How do you feel about our 10-year anniversary?

Reflecting on how the service has grown has been amazing. Having been with Care in Mind for just over four years, I remember staff telling me when I first arrived how much the service had grown just in the few months beforehand. We had started off as a very small service with the whole team based in one place, and when I joined we had just moved into Head Office, new people were joining, and staff teams were growing. Now, four years on, things have grown even more, and I think it’s great that we’re able to provide placements for so many young people.

It’s been quite challenging to say the least through Covid-19 working remotely and not seeing each other often, but our support staff and service user involvement teams have done so well in supporting our young people. They have found amazing ways to work creatively during a difficult time and seeing the work they’ve been doing has been impressive. There is just such an ethos of pulling together and getting each other through.

It’s a big milestone and I’m very excited. I think because it can be hard sometimes for people to understand our models and why we take the approach we take but the proof is in the pudding. Look at how we have grown; all of the young people and the positive outcomes highlight that there is a need for what we do, for care that is provided in this least restrictive, collaborative and supportive way. It’s not always easy but it’s so great to see that we have reached this milestone and have grown so much.

How do you see the future of Care in Mind?

There is such a need for a shift in mental health care to become more collaborative and move away from restrictive practices so with that in mind I can’t see anything other than continuing growth. Not just growing in the way that we have been, I think also a growth in the way we share our approach and aim to inspire other services too. I think that there is also a need for a shift in the way things are done sooner on in the process, even before hospital. It would be great to see us provide more support for how care is provided in other settings, and I think many ways this is already happening. Hospitals and other care providers often see the work we do and think that they want to try those methods too, which I think is really great. I’d really like to see this collaboration and outreach work continue and expand into other settings too.

What Makes Care in Mind Different? Residential Services Manager

What Makes Us Different? – Residential

At Care in Mind, there are many distinctive elements to how we do things, whether it’s our least restrictive model of care or our commitment to staff.

We are proud to offer care with a difference, and strive to ensure that our staff are well supported in doing the amazing job they do. Here, our Residential Services Manager, James Lucas, shares why working for Care in Mind has differed from his previous experiences:

What makes us different?

Having worked within the care sector since the age of 21 and having held a number of different roles within different care providers, I can honestly say that no company has come close to offering the support and guidance that Care in Mind does for its staff team.

Obviously support structures like supervisions and team meetings are commonplace within the care sector. However, within Care in Mind, there is also Reflective Practice and Staff Support within service, as well as Team Briefs company wide. I feel that these support structures are something that are highly valuable in looking out for the welfare of our staff team. Working within residential care is a massively challenging job and staff are exposed to some really challenging situations in the line of their duty, it is vital that this is recognised and the relevant support is in place to ensure the wellbeing of our staff members.

This is something that is hugely appreciated by people like myself, who have worked for different care companies previously, who recognise that Care in Mind really do go above and beyond to support their employees and recognise the challenging work they do day in, day out.

Having a happy, supported care team is essential in ensuring the quality of care we are providing.

How do you think the care we offer to young people is different compared to what other mental health residential services offer?

I believe the thing that sets Care in Mind apart is the company values and the way these are central to all of the work completed with the young people in our care.

The 6 core values (Innovative, Collaborative, Empowering, Compassionate, Committed, Respectful) are intrinsic to every aspect of the care received by our young people and the amazing work done on a daily basis by the care teams in our homes.

What makes Care in Mind different? | Our Values

The residential staff are introduced to the Care in Mind values as early as the interview stage and asked to consider which of the values they feel they relate to most. As their employment commences, they are asked to give consideration as to how they are meeting these values on a regular basis, ensuring that they are always central to the work they are completing.

By ensuring that these values are constantly being considered and at the forefront of care staff’s working practices, it creates some really positive environments for our young people to fulfil their potential and assist in their recovery journey.

Another huge benefit is the internal MDT which provides much better consistency for the young people in the management of their care. The positive working relationships between the residential and clinical teams is massively beneficial in ensuring effective information sharing and the direction of the delivery of quality care and support. Not being reliant on external services, and the inconsistencies/delays/etc that comes along with these, provides much more stability for our young people.

What do you think has been our key to success?

Aside from the points previously mentioned, I think something that has been key to Care in Mind’s success is the attitude towards development, improvement and positive change. This is an approach that is evident from top to bottom within the organisation.

Care in Mind is an organisation that constantly strives for improvement, rather than change for the sake of change. Prior to any new systems or structures being implemented, feedback is sought from delegates from all positions – from Support Workers to Managers – to ensure that the changes are going to be beneficial in providing quality evidence for the service and assist in leading to better outcomes for the young people.

Staff are also empowered to make suggestions for potential changes and recognised and rewarded for these suggestions should they be implemented. This is obviously vital in ensuring that our staff feel valued and appreciated. It is also important for the progression of the staff and development opportunities.

This is something else that has been intrinsic in Care in Mind’s success, developing their staff into both management and senior management positions. Due to the specialised and unique nature of the work we do, it is hugely beneficial for Care in Mind to promote from within to ensure ingrained company values and working knowledge and understanding of our models of care.

How do you feel about our 10-year anniversary?

In June I will have been with Care in Mind for 5 years, so I have been with the company for around half of its journey so far. I started as a Deputy Manager before progressing to an RM, Residential Lead and recently obtained my current position of Residential Services Manager.

What makes Care in Mind different? | 10 Years of Care in Mind

More than anything else, I am really proud of having been a part of the progression of the company and directly (or indirectly) being involved in the care, progression and recovery of some fantastic young people.

As I have previously mentioned, it is a massively challenging line of work, but I believe that it is evident that the positives always outweigh the negatives.

How do you see the future of Care in Mind?

I’m excited to see where Care in Mind is at the 20-year anniversary. I would like to think that the company will continue to expand, which in turn will allow us to offer more placements for young people to recover within a community setting and provide them with opportunities that they would otherwise not have access to.

I do wholeheartedly believe that as much as Care in Mind does continue to grow – the core values will always be maintained, allowing the opportunity for the excellent work that is currently being completed to be done on a larger scale.

Cherryhurst Pride Celebration

As what would have been Manchester Pride 2020 rolled around, Cherryhurst Support Worker, Liam, was keen to create our very own Care in Mind Pride event.

Below, he shares how teamwork and kindness brought his idea into fruition, as well as details of the day itself:

Care in Mind consistently practice with inclusivity, which I feel particularly aware of as a transgender man. Therefore, when it came to planning Care in Mind Pride 2020, I was not surprised by the enthusiasm my colleagues and Residential Manager, Dominic, encountered my idea with. Every step of the way, Dominic has been incredibly supportive in bringing the idea to reality, ensuring we had enough budget for decorations and rainbow party food!

Additionally, we were met by extreme kindness from local businesses and charities who donated prizes and runway clothing for the day. Refuse To Conform clothing donated some prizes and gifts for the young people to thank them for their hard work towards making the day such a success. And, it was a local charity shop, West Kirby Cats Protection, that helped us pick out some amazingly fabulous runway outfits.

The big day itself was a complete success; from the planning to the main event, and finale, of the Runway Extravaganza, both staff and residents were completely enthralled. Fun and games were enjoyed throughout the day, even during a game of ‘throw wet sponges at management’! We also enjoyed a blindfolded mocktail game, which brought out everyone’s competitive side.

When it came to the finale, our Ru Paul Runway Extravaganza, everyone was utterly amazing and completely exceeded expectations. Residents strutted the runway, blossoming with confidence, and got completely into the spirit of the event.

Reflecting on the day, young people commented: “It was a great day”, and “let’s do it again next year!”

The event perfectly celebrated the diversity we have within the service, both amongst staff and young people. It was a lovely way to recognise how diversity promotes success and why we should all feel proud to embrace who we are. Everyone involved in the day seemed to take a lot from it and left with a smile, and many of those involved in the runway event even discovered a new hobby – dressing up in drag!

Adapting to the New ‘Normal’ – Young Person

One of the Care in Mind young people share a unique insight into how they have adapted to life in lockdown.

How have you found lockdown?

It has been hard. For the first three weeks I was stuck in a cycle and unable to sleep properly as I would be sleeping a lot in the day. There was nothing much I wanted to focus on and I didn’t know what to do.

How have your therapy sessions altered?

For me, I can’t communicate with people if it is not in person, so I was worried about how therapy sessions would be. I struggle to get as deep into things, and if it is not deep then I can’t advance more because I don’t enjoy it – I just don’t feel comfortable. It’s difficult because I do really want to move on and advance, I want to talk about so much but it’s a struggle.

How have you overcome this?

Instead of going deep into a situation, I am quickly analysing how I feel and asking myself questions like… “Ok, this happened to me. Well, why did this happen? What was the reactions of both people? Why did they react in that way?” I’ll do a quick analysis of the whole situation and think about how I can improve it and what went well. This way, I am still being honest about things and analysing how I feel, but I am perhaps not going into it as deep as I may in person.

What has helped you maintain your wellbeing?

I have recently started thinking a lot more about self-improvement and making a realistic goal for each month. I’m really into computers and so I’m learning a new programming language at the moment; and as I run my own business, I wanted to improve my commercial awareness. These are two simple things I can do during this time. I’m doing these things in small steps, because this is the best way to get better at something – you can’t just expect results right away, you need to find your routine in order to progress.

What have you struggled with during this time?

I have found that I need to adapt my routine with food. I’ve been trying to think about being more healthy, but also I want to treat myself because I am in lockdown and I want something to entertain me. I’ve been trying to find a balance – is it healthy enough for me to sustain? Because of course I am not using as much physical energy as usual.

How have you stayed safe when out and about?

I have been using my hour of outdoor exercise to go on a short cycle ride twice a week. Normally I would cycle between 10 – 20 miles, but I have had to pull that back during this time so that I am keeping it within the hour. I am always also making sure to keep the distance between myself and other people as I find this to be really important.

How are you maintaining positive?

I am always thinking about what opportunities I can benefit from at this time, whether it is my business or just having more time. If you keep your mind stimulated on something else, it really helps you because the hardest time for people with mental health issues is when they are not doing anything. That makes this the most difficult time for anyone with mental health struggles because you are spending time inside doing nothing.

Adapting to the New ‘Normal’ – Clinical Psychologist

Care in Mind Clinical Psychologist, Dr Christy Laganis, shares her unique take on adapting to life in lockdown.

Rather than being based in an open-office, trying to drown out the chitter-chatter around me, the majority of my days are now spent in my living room speaking to people online – it’s a bit weird. I was recently introduced to a new support worker, he asked me a question which took me by surprise, and I had to pause to think. The question was simple enough but few people other than my supervisor, manager and ‘buddy’ have taken the time to ask. The question: “how are you coping with all of this?”

As a Clinical Psychologist, I spend most of my time listening to how people cope, or if I’m being truthful, trying to get people to acknowledge how they are coping. So, I should probably be comfortable talking about feelings-right?

I think a common misperception of Clinical Psychologists is that we somehow do feelings better than everyone else or that we like them because we spend so much time going on about them. I’m mindful that I can’t speak on behalf of all Clinical Psychologists but let me be clear in saying “I do not like talking about my feelings!”. I do not enjoy it, it makes me uncomfortable and if there was any other way of not talking about my feelings, I would jump on it. So, no I certainly do not do feelings better than anybody else, and I often feel like an imposter when others have the expectation that I do. I feel just as awkward as anyone else. However, I’ve learnt that awkward doesn’t hurt you and I can survive it. Contrarily when I’ve opted out of ‘doing feelings’, they’ve caught up with me and bitten me on the backside. I’ve had my fair share of being bitten, so, nowadays I try to prevent this from happening, by yes, you’ve guessed it – talking about how I feel.

So back to the question at hand, how am I coping with all of this? To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. Some days, I feel like I’m doing perfectly “fine”. Let me explain my fine. The biggest change for me at work has been that we are no longer able to work face to face with people. This means that all clinical sessions, staff supports, meetings, assessments and supervisions are now conducted online via Teams. Basically, I spend most of my days on Teams. Prior to all of this, I’ve never used technology to complete a session, so not only is this my first pandemic, this is the first time I’ve ever worked this way.

I’ve resisted online working in the past because as a therapist so much of what we do depends upon dealing with the feelings in the room. My own feelings act as a kind of sat-nav for navigating the feelings in the session. We call this transference and my stance has always been, I need to be in the room to get this. So, when we first got told to work from home my initial response was well, I can’t do therapy as I don’t have one of the most important tools that I rely on. I don’t like it when I don’t know what I’m doing, it makes me anxious. I managed this by consulting the guidance and trying to find out everything I could about online ways of delivering therapy. I read a lot and I spoke to colleagues who have done this before but mostly it just left me unsatisfied because I still felt like I didn’t know what I was doing.

Now in the very initial days of the lockdown, I probably wasn’t that fine actually – all the changes felt overwhelming and for someone who usually prides themselves on dealing okay with change – I couldn’t understand why I was struggling. It took a friend to highlight to me that this wasn’t like change I’ve ever experienced before. Yes, there was changes to the way I work, but alongside this I couldn’t leave my house, I couldn’t see loved ones, I was also playing various what if’s in my head. The biggest one being what if my loved ones in the ‘vulnerable group’ got COVID-19? Weirdly, I think the lockdown helped me as it contained my biggest anxiety and that is what if I’m the person to give somebody else coronavirus and they die? Being told not to leave my house helped me manage this fear as prior to that I was still completing sessions, going to wards/houses and also seeing those loved ones in the vulnerable group. So, my friend was right, I’ve never experienced change like this so it made sense why the early days were so tough.

Now, I’m more settled. Yes, completing sessions online is different but it’s nowhere near as bad as what I thought it was. I’ve had difficulties with my internet so it’s been cutting out more frequently than you would hope for, usually in the poorest of timed moments, so that’s been a bit stressful. It’s also very different to have work in your own home. If it’s been a difficult session, meeting etc, usually I can deal with it by leaving it at work, but quite literally now I cannot escape it. Instead I have to live with it in my home. I’ve found this more difficult than what I thought I would.

Working from home is therefore a tricky one. On the one hand I acknowledge and am grateful for the fact that I am still able to work from the comfort and safety of my own home, whilst others do not have the opportunity, but it does also come with its own challenges. When we first got told that we’d be working from home, I thought great I’ll have more time to catch up with all those things that I can never quite get around to. How wrong I was. I don’t fully understand why but it feels like I’m busier than ever and often finish the day with the feeling that I’ve not been productive enough. This makes me feel like I need to work more in order to make up for it. I like to feel useful; I like to feel helpful and I like feeling productive. Working from home for me means that I don’t feel any of these things. I feel guilty that others have to go into work and face challenges that I do not, I feel helpless that I can’t support the teams or young people I work with in the ways that I would like to, I feel bad for not being there during a time when it would be really useful for people to show up and if I’m honest I feel I’m not working at my best.

Perspective is important and I’m working hard to manage expectations. The world right now is collectively experiencing trauma and therefore it doesn’t make sense to be at your best and to know what to do for the best. Currently, the best we can hope for is survival and we all have to find our own way to survive.

These are the things I’m trying to hold in mind to help me survive. Feeling in control is important to me so during this I’ve had to do something which does not come naturally to me and that is to accept, right now I have very little control. Some days, I’m better at doing this than others but I’m doing better than I ever thought I could. Judgement does not and will not help, nor is me working all hours because I feel like I’ve not done enough.

In discussing all the suggested activities for the young people during lockdown, a support worker commented the best moment of their shifts recently was when staff and young people were just sitting together in the garden talking. When we’re anxious, some of us respond by trying to do more but this reminded me that often it’s not about being exceptional or how much you do but it’s just about being there and having a shared experience. Social distancing isn’t conducive for this but as Paul Gilbert, founder of compassion focussed therapy, has highlighted, we can safely relate during the COVID-19 pandemic. So, I’m trying to find ways to still show up even if it’s not in person or my best, it’s the best I can manage right now.

To the support worker who took the opportunity to check-in with me, thank you for reminding me that sometimes I need it too. Instead of feeling guilty for “having it easier”, I’m trying to practice feeling gratitude for the things I’m fortunate to have. I’m also trying not to rubbish my feelings because “others have it worse than me right now”, it doesn’t help them if I do this and it certainly doesn’t help me.

In writing this blog I’ve realised that I don’t think I am fine actually. Whilst I think I am adapting to this new normal, it doesn’t mean I’m fine. It doesn’t mean that it’s normal because it’s not, nor do I want it to be. Instead, a more accurate response to the question is I’m surviving and I’m learning. One of the things I’ve learnt is I have a lot of things I’m grateful for.

Here are some of the things that I’m grateful for at Care in Mind: I’m grateful to the residential staff that are showing up to support our young people, even though this may mean placing yourself at risk-thank you for being courageous. I’m grateful to all the head office staff and management who are still working tirelessly to ensure that the young people’s care remains to a good standard and that residential staff have all that they need to ensure they remain safe. I’m grateful to my clinical colleagues for the random check-ins and helping me to remain grounded in what we’re trying to achieve, which is a better future for the young people we work with. I’m grateful to Maggie (Service-user Co-ordinator) and Dom (Best Practice Facilitator) for trying to ensure that there remains a place for fun and play amidst the uncertainty. I’m grateful that we have the technology that allows us to remain connected. I’m also incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with such amazing young people. Whilst much of what we’re trying to achieve is to support young people through difficult times, the current pandemic has shone a light on that they have much to teach us also. So, I’m grateful to learn from their courage, strength and resiliency-they have this surviving thing nailed.

Writing this blog has felt cringe and a bit exposing; it’s also my first time at writing a blog so it’s yet another thing that I don’t really know what I’m doing. The reason why I did it is because I’m witnessing lots of compassion towards others, especially at Care in Mind, but I am worried that people sometimes forget to take care of themselves. It doesn’t come naturally to many of us to acknowledge our own vulnerabilities and during an international pandemic, it’s easy to dismiss them as unimportant or compare ourselves to others who have it worse. So, I just wanted to show there is space for your feelings/vulnerability and it doesn’t take away space from others. Our vulnerability is the thing which unites us in humanity, and it will be this which allows us to safely relate during these testing times.

I hope everyone stays safe and remains connected; doing the best you can do right now-whatever that might be.

Adapting to the New ‘Normal’ – Best Practice Facilitator

Care in Mind Best Practice Facilitator, Dominique Hooper, shares her unique take on adapting to life in lockdown.

So lockdown…. It’s been interesting to say the least. From the first announcement I felt relief, relief that I could work at home and be safe, relief that my salary would stay the same and relief that my son was at an age where he could be home alone for short periods while I delivered training etc.

Then the guilt came momentarily when I realised my initial thoughts and concerns were about myself and my son, not the people around me. Then my mind worked a little over time and began to think about my 2 nanas and my grandad and how they would cope and how I would cope not seeing them. How will my mum and dad cope? What about my pregnant sister? What about my other sister’s wedding? 

However, through routine I have managed well I think. Each morning, myself and Karen log on early and have a catch up and make each other laugh, which helps start our day on a high. Then, I meet for lunch with Alison and Karen on Teams as often as we can to keep maintain our usual work routine. These things have really helped.

With me working within mental health, I’m often the listening ear to my friends and I’ve spent a lot of time explaining to people that no matter what their worry is it’s still valid…. Validation has been so important as people around me say things like.. “I miss going to work but then again at least I’m getting 80% of my wage I shouldn’t moan as some people are not getting anything!” I keep saying yes you should have a moan you are entitled to – it’s a big change. There will always be someone worse off somewhere but that doesn’t mean we aren’t allowed to feel how we feel. I spend a lot of my time convincing my loved ones that it’s ok to feel upset about cancelled holidays, weddings, missing the pub, missing the football etc. If we don’t access our true feelings or are made to feel guilty for doing so, we will become unwell.

I feel lucky to have a healthy mind; I am very resilient, I’m strong and I have a son who is the same, but I don’t take this for granted. I have changed my diet and increased my exercise because I know that if I don’t the situation could get on top of me. I have had 3 bad days in total where I’ve felt low in mood and worried about the future but some self-care, a chat with my nana and a cuddle with my son and I’m ready to face the next day.

I’ve come off Facebook as the negative posts and inaccurate reporting isn’t good for anyone, I get my 1 update from Boris’s live speeches and that’s it. I am very selective about what I read or see. I understand I have the control to reduce or raise my anxieties and I make the conscious effort not to let my conversations, interactions or mind be consumed by covid-19 and what could be.

I have just recently been back into services and I have felt safe about doing so. I wash my hands on entry and when I leave, but also have anti bac wipes in my car. I distance from people and in all honesty, I feel safer in the houses than I do in Morrisons. I have been working remotely supporting services and I will be supporting new managers with feedback on paperwork and support around model knowledge on teams.

My poor little back has suffered as I don’t have a desk at home and I’ve had a few visual painless migraines possibly because I don’t usually spend so much time in front of a screen, but I just take regular breaks as advised by Care in Mind. There have been times where I have had to close my laptop, go for a walk and come back a few hours later.

I know myself and I do whatever I need to do to be as productive as I can as that is all any of us can really do.

Adapting to the New ‘Normal’ – Recruitment Coordinator

Care in Mind Recruitment Coordinator, Matthew Fletcher, shares his unique take on adapting recruitment processes during a global pandemic.

My experience working remotely from home has been positive all-round. Recruitment is the backbone of any business and it is something that we have managed to keep on top of. We are experiencing a rise in applications across the board so we initially vet each suitable candidate over the telephone to discuss the company, the role and the current pandemic which we are facing, and ultimately to discover whether a career with Care in Mind is what they truly want.

The Recruitment Team have adapted and are growing evermore resilient by the day whether it be communicating over Microsoft Teams, Tele-vetting candidates more thoroughly, engaging with current candidates through the onboarding process or thinking up new, smart ways to recruit during such hard times.

We have strengthened our already strong engagement methods with candidates who are going through onboarding and offered regular support and catch ups which has enabled us to retain a high percentage of them. Sometimes onboarding can take longer than we would like due to reference checks and DBS checks being carried out, so offering continual engagement throughout is something I find essential.

The pandemic has resulted in some people choosing to leave their current working industry, and we have welcomed them into a career within health and social care.

It has proven everybody’s hard working and collaborative nature, which is enabling us to grow our Residential, Clinical and Office based-teams and become even more robust.

Adapting to the New ‘Normal’ – Referrals Coordinator

Care in Mind Referrals Coordinator, Sue Bougen, shares her unique take on adapting the referrals process in lockdown.

I’m Sue and I’m the Referrals Coordinator within the Business Development Team. The referrals team receive telephone and email enquiries from commissioners and sometimes current placements, enquiring about placing young people with Care in Mind. We follow enquiries through to receipt of referral, screening, arranging face-to-face assessments and communicating outcome decisions to commissioners.

Pre-lock down, referrals activity was extremely busy so we had to put a lot of thought into just how this would work whilst we were all at home. Our first challenge was to ensure that we had all the necessary equipment so that communication channels could continue. This was swiftly sorted out by IT support, making sure we had ‘virtual’ phones on our laptops and that we could all access the network.

Next, we set up daily Business Development meetings via Teams, which means that we can discuss referral activity, agree shared actions and ensure that we are all kept up to speed in our fast-paced department. These calls have been invaluable in avoiding duplication of work, sharing the load in what has continued to be a very busy time and keeping each other’s spirits up. And of course we could see each other and have a little chat too – just like we would in the office.

Initially, I thought that we may not be in a position to progress referrals to assessment stage due to the current Government restrictions; however everyone has been brilliant in adapting to new ways of working and we have managed to continue assessing young people remotely, via Teams. This has meant that we can carry on with business as usual and play our small part in supporting the NHS by making it possible for young people to progress in their journey to independence.

There have been some challenges along the way; for example setting up virtual assessments and ensuring that the YP’s home team understand the process and have the relevant equipment. Also, during the actual assessment it can be quite difficult building rapport over a screen rather than in person. However, our amazing clinical and residential teams have adapted so well that we have had some really positive outcomes and are now progressing placement offers through to funding.

In summary, despite the difficult and challenging times we are all facing at the moment, I am very proud to be part of Care in Mind and to see the way that all the various teams have pulled together and adapted. Our procedures and processes have proved to be robust. I have spoken over Teams with colleagues who I hadn’t previously met in person which is just brilliant to put faces to names. I have spoken with commissioners and ward managers over Teams which has been invaluable for relationship building.

There have been a lot of positives that have come out of this situation and I feel confident that we are all doing our best – and actually we aren’t doing too bad at all!

Promoting a Healthy Relationship With Food

Eating disorders are on the rise, with an estimated 1.25 million people living with one in the UK right now.

Whether you’re a parent, carer or someone working within a care setting, a key concern is often ensuring that those we care for are receiving adequate nutrition and enjoying a healthy, happy life. This preoccupation with what we eat starts young, and for many mothers, it may even begin whilst our child is still in utero. Many mums-to-be are keen to eat the best diet for their unborn child, with the next concern being breast or bottle.

Since I’ve taken on the ED role, I’ve noticed that as a society, we obsess about food, diet and our body image. It has truly become a national obsession! We are often bombarded with social media telling us what is and isn’t ok, often with polarising extremes of diet and body image. Personally, I have become increasingly aware of how I talk about food, calories, exercise and my appearance – much to my benefit, as I am now far less stressed about it.

The worry over making sure our younger generation is not overweight has subsequently led to a preoccupation with ensuring children are healthy. The question is, when does this focus on healthy become too much and end up leading to a set of unhealthy beliefs being unconsciously embedded into children’s psych?

Understanding how to promote a child’s healthy relationship with food is increasingly important. To discover tips and tricks for promoting this balanced view of food, keep reading:

Eating together as a family  

From day one, try to eat together as a family, even if that means tolerating the mess that comes along with eating with a toddler! Talk about where the food has come from, how much you are enjoying it and generally make it an enjoyable, social occasion. Children have an amazing ability to extract nutrition from food and still survive. Allow them to eat what they can, without placing emphasis on clearing their plate, and encourage the independence to feed themselves as soon as they are able.

Teenagers are naturally a lot more erratic, and they may survive on a succession of snacks based around their busy schedule of socialising and studying. However, despite this, do try to encourage them to join in food prep and cooking, and subsequently sit and eat the meal together if possible.

Will my dieting influence my child?

Eating disorders often manifest themselves during puberty, therefore it is important to act as a positive role model for your child. Steer away from talking about going on a diet and your negative feelings regarding body image, because this may have a lasting impact on your child. Specifically, try not to allow concerns about your own weight and body dominate mealtimes. Extend this positive attitude into all areas of your life, even following social media accounts that promote acceptance and diversity, as well as an active enjoyment of food at mealtimes.

Dealing with ‘faddy eating’

When children show signs of ‘faddy eating’, it is important that a balance is struck between too much choice and remembering that you are not a restaurant! Of course, you want your children to eat well, so may resort to cooking them what they want. It’s important to remember that children will eat, and it is preferable for everyone to have one main meal in the evening, where everyone comes together and sits down as a family. If your child really does need some variety, there is an option to provide a few different vegetable options alongside the same basic meal. Lastly, remember that even if a child only likes 3 or 4 types of veg and a couple of fruits, that is still really positive and will cover their nutrient needs.

Should bad foods be restricted?

Dieticians always advise that there is no such thing as ‘bad food’, and in fact, it is all about balance. Rather than bad and good, it is about what you eat and how often. Similarly, using food as a reward is also advised against, as it can promote a detrimental emotional attachment to food. Essentially, banning certain foods isn’t helpful and can lead to an unhealthy preoccupation or fear of the banned food. It comes down to moderation, after all, no one wants to be the child at a party who’s forced to eat carrot sticks whilst others are enjoying ice cream!

Promoting a healthy relationship with food for our children is a vital part of their growth, and may impact whether they later go on to struggle with food or body image. Following these tips may aid a more balanced, healthy approach to diet.

Why Do Young People Self-Harm?

The stigma attached to self-harm means that society has a limited understanding of what it is and why people do it.

For many young people, it often serves a function, such as to regulate emotions or to communicate their distress. Andrew Sutton, our Clinical Nurse Specialist, shares the three key functions of self-harm for children and young people.

To Regulate

Self-harm is usually linked to an individual feeling overwhelming emotional pain, which they may find difficult to convey verbally. To cope with this pain, they may turn to harming themselves in order to alleviate their internal pain.

Our brains are still forming well into our twenties, which means understanding the world and processing emotions can be limited. Coupled with the difficulty of being a young person these days, this can make for a very turbulent time. There are many barriers for young people when it comes to communicating their internal distress, such as; shame, fear or low self-esteem.

Furthermore, everyone has an emotional baseline, meaning we all have a different distress tolerance. Some young people have a higher threshold to distress and may be less vulnerable to anxiety throughout adolescence. However, others may have a lower threshold, which coupled with trauma or further internal distress, may lead a young person to utilise self-harm as a coping method.

Most cases of self-harm are not carried out with intent to end life, with the purpose often to inflict physical pain on oneself in order to regulate emotions. When it is done with this purpose in mind, it is usually kept private and may not be visible or obvious to other people.

To Communicate

For some young people, self-harm may be used to communicate their distress to others. This may be viewed as attention-seeking; however, it is usually done to ensure that their needs are being met by their caregivers.

This type of self-harm can be impacted by attachment difficulties, for example, if a young person lacks trust in their caregiver’s ability to keep them safe. For those using self-harm in this way, they may have experienced neglect or have difficulty trusting others due to rejection.

How a caregiver responds to an incident of self-harm in this case can be pivotal to their perception of self-harm going forward. If a young person learns that self-harm can be a valuable tool in receiving attention, this may manifest as a care eliciting behaviour. Whilst ‘attention-seeking’ has very particular connotations attached to it, these incidents can be very dangerous. Care eliciting self-harm can become risky if the young person feels that they need to increase intensity to ensure their needs are being met.

If an adult is to respond through their anxiety and perhaps become overly protective, this may exacerbate the behaviour. Instead, helping a young person to develop trust and accept responsibility for their own actions is key in encouraging a healthy recovery.

To Join In

For a small group of individuals, self-harm may be partly influenced by the world around us. As we develop and explore our identity, young people can be easily influenced by those around them, and the act of harming oneself is becoming increasingly common.

Self-harm is done in a myriad of different ways for an infinite amount of reasons, with some not fitting neatly into any one of these boxes. It is something that must always be taken seriously and treated appropriately to ensure that the individual can learn new ways of functioning without harming themselves.