HHR Europe Conference 2012

What Duties? Who Cares? Integrate Your Approach to Health, Safety and Security

"Duty of Care is one of those phrases that can mean everything and nothing. We care about our staff – of course we do – and we know we have duties, both moral and legal. But what are those duties? And who, precisely, is doing the caring?

Stephen Blakemore, Conference Facilitator

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Presentations

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Notes

Understand the risks and don’t be surprised when you are forced to rely on your own instincts to get you through a situation. Training courses and programmes on working in hostile environments are tremendously useful, but don’t provide a comprehensive rule book for any given situation – therefore, a trust in one's own initiative is absolutely key.

Key points video

Audio

Notes

  • Communication is key – being transparent with staff about how certain decisions were arrived at, especially in times of stress.
  • Be cognitive of policies which allow you to care for your staff, whether it be in terms of insurance procedures or ensuring they have safe travel routes and accommodation at times of crisis. Not paying enough attention to these legislations can cause issues for your organisation in the long run.
  • Take on board the lessons learned from the disaster and review your policies in the light of this, as well as feeding these lessons back to staff.

 

Key points video

Notes

  • We all have psychological needs, and it is important that these needs are met, particularly while on a mission. As a psychologist and former aid worker, Alessandra urges humanitarian professionals to realise that many go through challenging times in the field. It is crucial that no stigma is attached to whatever psychological issue one may be experiencing; this is especially true when one feels isolated and lonely, and there is no immediate family of social support available.
  • Offering support – whether it be one-to-one, group support or others – can be of major help. There is no one size fits all – what works for one individual may not be effective for another. Organisations have a duty of care, but aid workers themselves are also responsible for their own wellbeing.
  • Mindfulness for NGOs is a project created in partnership with the Oxford Mindfulness Centre with the aim of raising awareness around the wellbeing of aid workers – before, during and after deployment. Services include group mindfulness-based burnout prevention training, as well as 1-1 Skype guidance and coaching.

Slides

Presentation slides

Key points video

Summary video

Notes

  • Before the mission – Make quite sure that the aid worker is as physically and psychologically well as possible.
  • During the mission – ensure that there is an accompaniment with them on their mission – resources, tools and people available at all times to help them if needs be.
  • After the mission – medical consultation in a confidential and non-judgemental environment is vital – early signs of PTSD and other similar afflictions can be detected at this stage.

It is critical that staff care is always delieved in a non patronising, friendly way – this can make all the difference for the worker in the field.

Slides

Presentation slides

Key points video


Summary video

  • When balancing confidentiality with learning and increased levels of support, it is important to create a culture where it is okay to discuss issues within a team.
  • When considering the psychological level of preparedness pre-assignment, a medical consultation with someone experienced in travel medicine and who understands the wider issues is optimal. An effective recruitment process is also key to establishing psychological health.

Audio

Slides

Presentation slides (CiC)

  • The places that volunteers and aid workers have assignments are often so varied that organisations need tailored strategies to deal with the subsequent challenges.
  • Attention must be paid to issues like burnout, by ensuring that staff get the rest they need and that there is no stigma around the issues which concern them.
  • A 24-hour helpline ensures that support is always available for aid workers - this can make a tremendous difference to their wellbeing. This should also be coupled with a training programme on the support available.

    Audio

     

 

Photos 

   

 Photos courtesy of Simon Nobes,londonbusinessphotos.com