‘Reconnecting with the Heart of Frontline Practice’, a virtual seminar for frontline practitioners held on Thursday 26th November attracted an audience of doctors, nurses, midwives and other healthcare professionals, as well as teachers, social workers and practitioners in community-based roles.
Organised by Dr Maeve Hurley from Ag Eisteacht, Dr Nicola O’ Sullivan and Jim Sheehan from SHEP (The Social and Health Education Project), ‘Reconnecting with the heart of frontline practice’ was one of a series of voluntary initiatives by the collaborative group to stimulate a national conversation about supporting people in frontline work.
Jim Sheehan from SHEP, said: “Our aim was to create a safe space and time for practitioners to gather as a community to reflect on the emotional values and sense of mission and purpose that drew them to their work in the first place, and how they can reconnect with this and keep motivated and well. The positive feedback we received on the day has been heartening. It shows the interest and hunger there is for further emotional support for those in frontline caring roles.”
A follow-up survey shows that almost 97% of the respondents believed that the seminar had provided a safe space for them. 87.5% said that they felt reconnected with their work and what drew them into it, and 97% agreed that incorporating reflective practice into their work is important.
When asked what the best thing about the seminar was, responses included: “Being reminded that I am not alone”, “Having the opportunity to reconnect and remember my core values” and “Getting acknowledgement that the relational aspect of our work is very important, but also that it can be very consuming and how we can learn to manage that in our lives.”
Another attendee, Cork-based GP, Dr Sarah Fitzgibbon, said: “I enjoyed reflecting on the emotional challenges of working in a caring profession, and the importance of finding ways to rekindle our imaginations to detoxify the impact of our work.”
Dr Caroline Elton, keynote speaker at the event and author of ‘Also Human – The Inner Lives of Doctors’, said: “If the Covid crisis has taught us anything, it’s the centrality of care in all of our lives. What society hasn’t yet learnt is that carers can’t care for others if no one cares for them. That’s why this seminar was so vital. I think it achieved the absolute limits as to what can be done virtually. Of course, everybody would have preferred to have met in person. But magically, this event managed to get a sense of connection and shared purpose buzzing over the ethers. It left me feeling really inspired, on a personal and professional level.”
Speakers included Dr Caroline Elton (‘Also Human – The Inner Lives of Practitioners’), Dr Nicola O’ Sullivan (‘Telling it like it is; Emotional Experience and Reflection at the Frontline’) and Dr Colm O’ Connor (‘Imagination and Self-Compassion in Practice’).
A series of five nourishing and inspirational workshops in the afternoon session included:
The next national ‘Reconnecting with the Heart of Frontline Practice’ seminar by the collaborative group will be held on Tuesday 25th May 2021. It is open to all frontline practitioners in health, social care and educational roles. For further information, please contact Donna Hennessy at Ag Eisteacht on [email protected]