Justin Scanlon – Founder Hearth Support Services
Professional Development to Include “Reflective Practice” at Hearth!
Over the past 13 years since my son Tristan was born with Cerebral Palsy I have experienced and observed the psychological difficulty for participants, parents, guardians, carers and support workers dealing with the challenges that arise on a daily basis when you are supporting someone with a disability.
In part the reason I founded Hearth Support Services in August 2017, was that I thought there had to be a better way of assisting parents or guardians with the individualised support they needed, when they needed it.
The physical wellbeing of the participants, Hearth Support Workers, and the entire Hearth team is always at the top of my mind, as is employee mental health which can have profound impacts on the overall wellbeing of an individual.
Support work is a highly valued role that also has challenges that can impact one’s mental health, such as.
- the isolated nature of their work at times, combined with
- the challenges of interfacing at times with dynamic family situations, combined with
- the challenges presented by the nature of the disability.
These factors can impact one’s mental health if the right supports are not readily available.
What Is Hearth Doing About Employee Mental Health?
As I mentioned in my recent post, our first response to employee mental health back in 2018 was to provide a professional Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to all employees. This program gives the employee the option of undertaking up to three confidential counselling sessions at no cost to the employee.
In addition to EAP our second initiative in 2019 was to embrace “Mental Health First Aid Training”. Mental Health First Aid teaches members of the public how to help a person developing a mental health problem (including a substance use problem), experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health problem or a mental health crisis. Like traditional first aid, Mental Health First Aid does not teach people to treat or diagnose mental health or substance use conditions. Instead, the training teaches people how to offer initial support until appropriate professional help is received, or until the crisis resolves.
Reflective Practice and Professional Development
I strongly believe that there is even more that can be done to assist the Hearth team of Relationship Managers and Support Workers traverse the psychological challenges of their profession and at the same time give them the opportunity to develop professionally.
In 2020 we have partnered with a leading psychologist to commence a pilot program for a small group of our Relationship Managers and Support Workers to develop our own sector specific assistance and training in “reflective practice”.
So, what is reflective practice? Since the theoretical concept was published by Donald Schön in his book “The Reflective Practitioner” in 1983 there have been many incarnations of the theory.
Simply stated “Schön describes both reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action as being central to professional development where responding to uncertainties is necessary. Reflection-on-action involves thinking back on events whereas reflection-in-action is ‘thinking on your feet’ (Schön 1983, 61).”
Reflective practice has been widely used in many sectors including allied health, childcare and teaching. Each sector has developed its own approach to using this valuable theory and it is our intention to do the same.