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Advice For Delivery Services Whilst Working From Home

In March, many of us went through a sudden transition from working in a building with face to face contact with colleagues and clients to working (at some of the time) alone, remotely from home.  For most, this was unlikely to have been a smooth transition.  Frustrating IT issues, feelings of disconnection and a sense of disappointment that services cannot provide the level of support or help to our clients might need might all have been a featured in your last few months.

When we left our usual routines in March, there was hope that this would just be for a short while.  A few months on it seems like some level of remote working will be with as for many months to come.   

The prospect of continued minimal (or no) face to face contact with our clients presents huge challenges.  

Whilst some clients might demonstrate resilience, it is likely that many of our clients’ difficulties will have been exacerbated by lockdown.  People you speak with might be expressing distress, anxiety and fear regarding themselves or their loved ones becoming unwell or dying.  Clients might feel depressed, lonely and isolated whilst being confined to their homes.  For people who live with others, these relationships might be unhelpful or abusive leading to them being at risk.  Some may feel abandoned or let down by service providers.  This means that whilst at home (either on our own, with partners, friends or families) we are being asked to find a way to deal with what might be high levels of crisis and distress.  This presents challenges to our own emotional and psychological well -being. 

With this in mind, Clinical Psychologists in Community Justice Services in Edinburgh has created two guides aiming to help staff manage to stay psychologically well whilst negotiating the challenges of providing support or interventions to clients remotely.

The first guide is specifically aimed at professionals who are working from home.  It provides some suggestions which may help individuals feel more able to cope with home working.  Some of the suggestions may be relevant and applicable whilst some might feel less relevant or even impossible to apply.  

At the end of this document is a template of topics to guide a discussion with your supervisor/manager and colleagues.  It is hoped this template helps you to develop a personalised plan which aims to boost your resilience and keep you psychologically well during this difficult time. 

The second guide is aimed that professionals who are have providing telephone support or interventions over the phone.  It is relevant to individuals who are working from offices but has some information specifically relevant to people working from home. 

The guide acknowledges the challenges of working with clients without the nuances of non-verbal communication.  It asks individuals to think about their own boundaries and also provides some guidance regarding how to create therapeutic and empathic conversations over the phone. 

The guide synthesises information from a number of sources on providing support over the phone. It is likely that the some of the information here will be familiar but hopefully it will help consolidate your knowledge. The document is separated into five sections, with tips and things to think about:

  1. Before the call
  2. At the start of the call
  3. During the call
  4. Ending the call
  5. After the call.

Both guides aim to provide information but also the opportunity to reflect on your current remote working practices.  It is likely there are things that have been working well for you but also some things that have not.  It is hoped that these guides might help in you to find some solutions to promote your psychological well being during these uncertain times.

Suzi Black
Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Community Justice Services – Edinburgh

See the guides below…