Caring for yourself

Learning objectives

At the end of Unit 7, you will:

  • Understand the importance of debriefing after advance care planning discussions
  • Understand the importance of caring for yourself
  • Be aware of sources of support for health care providers
  • Have knowledge of ways in which health care providers can self-care

The realities of working in health care settings

As you support individuals and family / carers to make decisions about their future care wishes, it is important that you also receive the care and support you need. It is natural that you may feel overwhelmed at times. While it can be difficult to navigate these complex emotions, there are many sources of support available to help you both personally and professionally. This section introduces a number of steps that are designed to promote health and wellbeing, and provides links to additional resources that may be of interest to you.

  • Takeaway activity
    As you work through this unit, jot down any concerns or worries you currently have about work. Discuss your concerns with a senior member of staff or a colleague you feel comfortable with. Discuss how you and your colleagues can find time each day to support each other.

The importance of debriefing

After having a conversation about advance care planning, it can be helpful for your own health and wellbeing to debrief where possible with a colleague. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • Check: you may want to check decisions made by the individual or family / carers with a senior colleague in order to verify they are the most appropriate options for care.
  • Questions: you may have questions that were raised in the discussion that you wish to seek clarity on, for example particular services that were requested by the family / carers.
  • Advice: you may wish to seek advice from a colleague about things which were discussed during the discussion, for example decisions about care which may still be outstanding.
  • Reflect: you may wish to reflect on your own handling of the discussion. What went well? What could you improve on next time? How might you conduct the conversation differently in the future?
  • Share: you may feel upset or distressed about the discussion. If this is the case, it might be helpful for you to share and process your emotions with a colleague so they can offer you support.

Your support network

Identifying your support network can be a helpful step in boosting your own wellbeing. You might find it useful to talk things through with the following people.

Work colleagues

Your colleagues can be a great source of support. They are likely to understand how you feel, offering empathy and even practical solutions to problems you are facing. Think about a colleague that you feel you could open up to at some point in the future if you needed to. Is there anything you would like to discuss now?

Senior colleagues or line managers

Senior colleagues can offer you help and support if you are finding aspects of your work challenging. Think about a senior colleague who you would feel comfortable approaching at some point in the future if you needed to. Is there anything you would like to discuss with them at the moment?

Family and friends

Your loved ones can help you to relax and feel supported and valued. Arranging quality time with those closest to you can be comforting when you are experiencing stress or pressure at work.

Professional guidance

If you are a clinician, your professional body may be able to provide you with guidance on well-being matters connected to your work.

You can also make use of your organisation’s Employee Assistance Programme which is usually linked to the Health and Wellbeing Department. Employee Assistance Programmes offer valuable sources of support and advice, including counselling, in order to support staff wellbeing.

Grief and bereavement

You might experience grief and bereavement, in your personal or professional life. The following resources may be helpful in caring for yourself during this time.

Cruse Bereavement Care
Provides free support, advice and information for adults, children and young people. National Freephone Helpline: 0808 808 1677. Opening hours Monday-Friday, 9.30am-5.00pm (excluding bank holidays), with extended hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings until 8pm.

A safe online space where people can share their story, explore their feelings and be supported by a qualified bereavement counsellor. The service is free of charge and is open Monday-Friday, 9am-9pm (UK time) for people who are grieving or bereaved.


Self-care can be defined as:

"Taking proactive steps to preserve or improve your physical and mental health, wellbeing, happiness and quality of life."

You can take practical steps to help maintain your health and wellbeing as much as possible even when working under pressure, and in sometimes upsetting circumstances. For example, you might want to make sure you are making time to eat and drink well during the day, getting some fresh air and maximising your sleep patterns.

Below are some ideas and additional resources that you might want to explore in order to support your own self-care.

Walking or running can help to improve your physical and mental health. The established ‘Couch to 5k’ beginners programme has inspired lots of people to get active for the first time


A good night’s sleep can help you to wake feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead. Adjusting your bedtime routine can improve the quality of your sleep


Mindfulness can help to improve mental wellbeing by tuning in to what you are thinking and feeling


And finally…

Congratulations and Thank you for completing this online training. We hope that you have found it valuable. Here is a final message from Professor Nancy Preston who is leading this project.


Please provide feedback so that we can continue to develop this training package


Once you have completed this training and provided your feedback you can obtain your certificate.