Our first national seminar, ‘Reconnecting with the Heart of Frontline Practice’, was due to take place on 21st May 2020, but this was postponed to 26th November due to Covid19 restrictions. We held an online session and two facilitated group sessions on 21st May to mark what would have been the original date.
We held our first online national seminar ‘Reconnecting with the Heart of Frontline Practice’, a virtual seminar for frontline practitioners on Thursday 26th November.
The seminar attracted an audience of doctors, nurses, midwives, and other healthcare professionals, as well as teachers, social workers, and practitioners in community-based roles.
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 of attendees showed 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.
Our keynote speaker was Dr Caroline Elton, an occupational and counselling psychologist who has trained and supported doctors for the last 20 years. The title of her keynote address was ‘Also human – the inner lives of frontline practitioners.’
She said: “If the Covid crisis has taught has anything, it’s the centrality of care in all of our lives. What society hasn’t yet learned is that carers can’t care for others if no one cares for them. That’s why this seminar is so vital.”
Dr Nicola O’Sullivan’s presentation was titled ‘Telling it like it is; emotional experience and reflection at the frontline’.
Dr Colm O’Connor, Clinical Psychologist, spoke about ‘Imagination and self-compassion in practice’.
In the afternoon there was a Q&A session facilitated by Jim Sheehan and Dr Maeve Hurley. After that, participants had a choice of workshops to attend, facilitated by Dr Caroline Elton, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy, Marianne Adams, Jim Sheehan and Beatrice Barry Murphy, and Dr Maeve Hurley and Leon Ledwidge.
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.”