Support Coordination is a high-stress job that revolves around the outcomes and satisfaction of Participants. When working with others, it is very easy to feel that you need to over perform and achieve outcomes at 'whatever the cost'.
I have been a Support Coordinator for a long time and in the industry even longer! I have discovered a few hints and tips to ensure that you are looking after yourself so that you can continue to assist others.
The first aspect of resilience when working as a Support Coordinator is setting boundaries. The best time to set boundaries is during the initial intake appointment.
I like to outline my hours of work, communication expectations (how often I will be available to answer calls/funded hours for Support Coordination) and the role of the Support Coordinator.
Outlining these boundaries will ensure that you are not contacted multiple times per day to organise and assist with tasks that are far outside the Support Coordination role.
I know that I have been guilty of engaging with Participants more than I should and assisting (when I shouldn't) when I was new to the role. This is a tough cycle to break, and it is not assisting your Participant in building capacity and ends up with significant reliance on you (which is not the aim of the game!).
When asked why a person entered this industry and/or this role, the answer is often the same… ‘I want to help others’. If we were not ‘people people’ then I would be concerned as to why we were in this industry.
However; to ensure that you are ready for the everyday functions of your role and can perform your role to the best of your ability, you need to learn to switch off.
It has taken me a LONG TIME to discover that I actually do not need to answer my phone and emails outside of business hours. I thought that it would be the end of the world if I missed an event or situation.
This definitely took a toll on my personal life as I was CONSTANTLY working. This did not allow me to enjoy my weekends/time off or even evenings as I was focused on everyone but my family.
When I discovered that the world would not end if I missed a call, I started enjoying my time off and not thinking about work; I was able to perform even better during business hours. I felt recharged and motivated – hello amazing outcomes!
This is a mentally and emotionally draining job. Even the most resilient person can struggle with boundaries and switching off.
To assist with the emotional toll of setting boundaries and switching off – ensure that you partake in self-care. This can be literally anything that you enjoy doing!
It doesn't have to be an expensive, intensive task. I thoroughly enjoyed Netflix and hanging out with my dogs after a long week in the office. This was enough to help fuel me and prepare me for the next week.
Find a hobby! Whilst I am still working on this one – I have tried many things but end up with items stacked in my garage from past trends/attempts at finding something. But this is ok – I will keep trying and one day find something that will fill my time with positive, meaningful tasks.
There are some events and situations that are STRESSFUL. We are only human, and there will be times when we struggle.
In this role, we will experience the most stressful events of a Participant's life and even Participant death and/or abuse. It is not reasonable to expect that we just continue as if nothing happened.
Reach out for help and access your employer's EAP (Employee Assistance Program). Talking to an external person can be all the assistance you need. If you do not have access to this program, ensure that you are booking regular supervisions with your manager and/or keeping them up to date with your caseload/current events.
If you are self-employed then talk to your personal psychologist and/or friends/family!
After the birth of my son, I have further set boundaries and readjusted my priorities. I am currently working in a different capacity and trying my best to juggle the needs of myself and the organisation.
All in all, work out what works best for you. You can only give your best when you are encouraged to feel your best.
What are strategies that you use to reduce burn out and encourage resilience? I would love to hear from you! Reach out to me on LinkedIn