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Responding to Covid-19

What challenges are health and care leaders facing?

Since we launched our ‘Leading through Covid-19’ webpages, we’ve been asking visitors to the site to tell us about their experiences during this crisis. We wanted to hear from those in the health and social care system who are managing in unprecedented circumstances and having to rapidly work in new ways. We asked people to tell us about the challenges they are facing and the support that they would find most useful.

To date, more than 500 of you have responded to us from across England, the United Kingdom and even further afield. This includes those working in NHS provider organisations, local authorities, social care services, voluntary sector organisations and many others. We are grateful to all of you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

Your responses have included several familiar issues, for example access to personal protective equipment (PPE). Some of you have described feeling isolated, either personally or in the sense of not knowing what is happening beyond your own organisation or system. But there are some strong common themes among the challenges we have heard: you are not alone.

  • Coping with anxiety in the context of uncertainty and rapid change has been a central concern. Anxieties about health and keeping staff and people using services safe are common. Many of you have told us about how you are struggling to protect your team’s mental and physical wellbeing, as well as looking after your own.

  • Keeping pace with the amount of new information about the crisis is another recurring theme. Lots of you have told us about the challenges of prioritising this and communicating relevant details across teams, while paying attention to the anxiety it could raise. For some of you the volume of information adds to what is already an overwhelming workload.

  • Adapting to the broad-ranging changes to ways of working, from remote working and consultations to changing substantive roles to respond to need. These changes bring emotional as well as practical challenges – concerns about impacts on patients and service users as well as how to rapidly upskill new staff and form new teams.

We have used your responses to shape the resources we are developing for Leading through Covid-19. For example, we have shared insights on how to engage with and manage anxiety about loss and breathing . Our short piece on how to manage your energy as a leader is intended to help you and your colleagues to focus your priorities and find a sustainable way of working through the crisis and beyond. We have also responded to the challenges around new ways of working and provided a guide to virtual meetings, as well as a three-minute read on what research tells us about how to effectively work with new teams on unprecedented challenges. We do not underestimate the pressures of the environment you are working in, but hope that these resources will be of some use to you in addressing the challenges you are facing.

The response to this crisis requires working together and learning from each other’s experiences, and we are grateful to everyone who has contributed to the site so far – either by sharing their experiences through the web form, or by contributing content. If you or your colleagues have any feedback on what has been helpful (or not), and what else we could be doing to support you, please let us know – we’d love to hear from you

Leading through Covid teaser

Leading through Covid-19

The health and care system has faced a huge challenge over the past two years. These resources are aimed at leaders working in the NHS, social care, public health or the voluntary and independent sector. We want to hear about the challenges you are facing, to help us shape the resources we produce and ensure these are practical and useful.

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