By Christine Quickfall, CEO of Badisa
Badisa is implementing a special project to provide psycho-social and pastoral support to the managers and senior staff members at the Badisa programmes that are rendering essential services.
The Covid-19 crisis is generally regarded as the ultimate test for management and leadership. It was sudden, dramatic and life- threatening. It catapulted all facets of our daily lives in uncertainty and chaos. Our resilience is tested to the extreme and our management and leadership abilities are challenged.
Badisa’s first phase of response to Covid-19 was immediate and clinical. In order to ensure consistency in implementing a comprehensive response, we have centralised all decisions regarding the pandemic. We have developed guidelines and protocols at our units that render essential services (residential facilities for the aged and persons with disabilities and the child and youth care centres), trained all the relevant staff in the application thereof and implemented extraordinary communication systems. Our new plans have been in operation since the middle of March 2020, ten days before the President declared a State of Emergency.
The nature of providing essential services within our context is high-pressured under normal circumstances. Caring for very vulnerable persons and achieving outcomes with the minimum resources require immense insight, resilience and compassion. The pandemic brought an additional level of stressors, such as a dramatic change in our traditional approaches to work; managing serious financial risks in sustainability; increased workloads; protection the health and safety of vulnerable people and managing extraordinary demands and concerns of residents and their families.
All the above can potentially harm the mental and psychological wellbeing of senior staff members at our programmes. We therefore developed a project which aims to deepen our support and strengthen the resilience of senior staff members working at the forefront in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan is multi-pronged and focuses on the following:
(Understanding my response and coping in a new reality)
We are about to implement a broad awareness programme aimed at all the staff members, residents and management boards of Badisa. Short informative narratives, podcasts, videos, webinars, self- assessment tools, etc. will be available on the Badisa web domain. We will focus on subjects typically related to the crisis such as stress management during C-19, managing mental wellbeing in the workplace, managing own mental wellbeing, prioritising self-care and dealing with grief in the workplace. Additional subjects like dietary information, physical exercise videos and leave management will also be featured.
- Spiritual support:
(Connecting with God and making sense)
Being part of a faith-based community, these networks have already been activated at the start of lockdown. We will continue to strengthen those.
- Internal communication:
(I am not alone)
From the start, we prioritised quality, honest and frequent communication as an important aspect of the Badisa COVID-19 response. As a learning organisation, and because we depend on the expertise and life experience of the collective to fight the pandemic, we continuously assess the effectiveness of the existing communication mechanisms and make the necessary adjustments.
(Bringing out the best in dynamic conditions)
Professional coaching has been identified as a powerful tool to guide managers in applying their existing expertise, knowledge and skills within the new reality and help them through the debriefing processes. We have already set up a group of coaches who are willing to partner with Badisa. For now, we will only target the senior management at the Badisa Programmes.
- Spiritual retreat:
(Rest, Restore, Reflect and Reposition)
We are of the opinion that the opportunity for spiritual retreats as offered by the Andrew Murray Spiritual Centre in Wellington, will enable our managers to physically distance themselves from the stressful environment at the facilities. Removed from the constant demands, we anticipate that it will provide much needed physical rest and an opportunity for restoration and reflection.
The pandemic will ultimately lose its grip and we will eventually adjust to the required new behaviours- and responses. Meanwhile we need to enable our staff, who has been working under these trying circumstances for the past three months, providing hope and strengthen their ability to continue managing the uncertain immediate future.