Emotional resilience shouldn’t become a stick to beat social workers with

Developing resilience is vital but placing the onus on the individual through HCPC standards could be counterproductive, says Rhian Taylor

Social worker workload
Photo: John Birdsall/Rex (posed by model)

By Rhian Taylor, social work lecturer, University of Kent

In April, the HCPC put forward plans to include emotional resilience as one of the new standards of proficiency for social workers to be introduced at the end of the year. This is an interesting move, and reflects the increased discussion around emotional resilience within the profession.

Commentators have pointed out that making this one of the standards rings some alarm bells. Is too much responsibility for resilience being shifted to the individual social worker, rather than the employer? What level of workload and working conditions should we be resilient to?

‘Personal responsibility’

I’ve been thinking about this because I know from experience how easy it is to ingest a sense of personal responsibility for your resilience failings in the face of demanding organisations. In my previous role as a manager in a statutory team, I started to seriously question my resilience – particularly after completing an online resilience assessment tool that my organisation had signed up to.

We had four restructures in the last five years of my last role, and I never found the change easy. The restructures meant changes in location, team members and supervisee/supervisor relationships, as well as seeing colleagues being made redundant. Looking back, I think there were times I could have been more flexible in approaching the changes but in essence the reason I found it hard was that I really cared about my colleagues, I valued having stable working relationships, and was protective of my work life balance and childcare arrangements.

Were these weaknesses? I certainly started to see them as indicators of my own lack of resilience, admiring people who could move seamlessly from team to team with little emotional turmoil. However, looking back, I question that interpretation.

I know that recognising my own needs goes hand-in-hand with emotional sensitivity to the needs of others, including service users.

It also showed me how it’s not easy to distinguish between the individual’s resilience and corporate responsibility for the workplace. It concerns me that with the way these systems work, I suspect it will be easier for the HCPC to find the individual wanting, rather than holding the organisation to account.

Having said this, increasing emotional resilience for individual social workers is certainly a very good thing. Grant and Kinman’s excellent Community Care Inform guide on this topic gives an indication of how emotional resilience can help us cope with our work and enjoy it more. Research a few years ago indicated that the average working life of a social worker is seven years (in comparison to 25 years for a doctor) and with the ongoing pressures we face, we can see how important this is for the profession.

Reflecting with others

As social work lecturer, I have been thinking hard about how students can become more emotionally resilient and what a university could do to help with this. I recently did some work collating input and views from our third year undergraduates on how emotionally resilient they felt, and what, if anything, the university might do to assist them.

In this small-scale study, the students generally perceived themselves as resilient. Prior experience, the competing demands of the course, the workload, the need to adjust to new placement opportunities, and good supervision were mentioned as ways their resilience had developed.

Teaching input was generally viewed as less relevant, whilst reflecting with others – practice educators, placement colleagues or fellow students – was considered most beneficial for developing the kind of self-awareness that correlates with emotional resilience. There was also a significant caveat in the student’s responses. Although they wanted to reflect openly, there was a strong awareness of the fact they were being assessed.

‘I want to explore how I’m feeling but not with the person who’s assessing me’, one student commented.

‘Are we reluctant to show vulnerability?’

Another pointed out that they wanted to discuss feelings without being perceived as weak. It seems that there is still a perception that being professional does not involve showing vulnerability.

This is a key dilemma for practitioners as well as students. To explore our emotional resilience we need to be honest and self-aware, yet students feels restricted in this because of the power dynamic of being assessed. If emotional resilience becomes another thing we have to demonstrate as practising social workers it might become counterproductive in making us reluctant to openly discuss our feelings of vulnerability, and the very real impact of our jobs on our emotional lives. Yet, of course, our denial of these feelings actually makes us more vulnerable to burnout.

A further point of interest which emerged from my students was the issue of pessimism. Although generally reporting good levels of the qualities associated with resilience, when asked about optimism (a key indicator), over half said they sometimes struggled to feel positive about their working life.

How do you view positive events?

The issue of optimism versus pessimism is a complex one. On one hand the benefits of optimism, or more specifically what Grant and Kinman call an optimistic explanatory style seem clear. People with this bias in their thinking, they say, not only see themselves as responsible for the positive events that are occurring (rather than things just happening), they are also more likely to think positive events will happen in the future.

Research consistently indicates that optimists perform better in the workplace, setting more challenging goals, putting increased effort into these goals and bouncing back more effectively from setbacks. In other sectors, this research is having a significant effect on recruitment. For example some companies look for this optimistic explanatory framework when they recruit sales staff, as they know these people will be able to be cope with knockbacks and be persistent. Could we use a similar principle when interviewing social workers?

Optimism enables people to always see the best in situations. However, we know that in social work too much of this kind of positive can be dangerous when it comes to managing risk if we always seek out the positives and reframe situations. We have to consider all possibilities, including the most problematic.

It’s hard to question your own version of reality

Grant and Kinman use the term ‘realistic optimism’, and suggest an optimism/pessimism check within reflective practice. This makes a lot of sense but I worry that we are very good at assessing our own levels in this area. Studies suggest that most people think they are realists. Our versions of reality, whether they are biased towards the positive or the negative feel like reality to us. It is only very thorough in-depth self-awareness or very astute supervision that we might question our underlying assumptions.

Emotional resilience targets?

So whilst I personally aspire strongly to have the qualities of emotional resilience, I’m concerned that making it a standard of proficiency might be counterproductive. We develop these skills through experience, vulnerability, and honest reflection – preferably within a workplaces which promotes mental wellbeing. I hope new standards of proficiency won’t mean emotional resilience becomes another target to reach, or a stick to beat a struggling workforce.

 

6 Responses to Emotional resilience shouldn’t become a stick to beat social workers with

  1. LongtimeSW June 7, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

    Just a thought – isn’t an individual’s ’emotional resiliance’ one of the factors assessed by social worker’s where the individual is in an abusive environment?

    . . . . . . . only asking . . . .. .

    • Sharon June 7, 2016 at 8:13 pm #

      In some circumstances ‘yes’ and in others it’s about recognising adverse circumstances & attempting to promote the features that can enhance ‘resilience’. Danger is to use ‘resilience’ to excuse attempts to address environmental conditions that can limit growth #equalitymatters

  2. Beth June 8, 2016 at 8:58 pm #

    To promote resilience there needs to be a reduction in stress factors and a promotion in the positive …..
    with children’s social work in near constant chaos in some areas with the pressure of very difficult circumstances some Local Authorities are not promoting any positive factors in survival of coping with;

    case loads that are just too high
    constant change
    poor management and support
    difficult ics systems
    constant negative feedback from Ofsted

    Just to name a few of the factors which dominate social workers working life and mean that they work flat out long hours and then are told that their inability to cope is due to poor emotional resilience!

    We can all develop skills in terms of coping but this is outrageous as well as a way of pushing back organisational and managerial responsibility back onto social workers….

    Carry on HCPC and see how many of us are left to do this very difficult and challenging work!

  3. Ellie June 11, 2016 at 1:16 pm #

    This is something that I find deeply inappropriate, for a multitude of reasons…

    Firstly, we must consider the fact that emotional resilience is not something that is particularly well understood. Are we born with innate traits that make us emotionally resilient? Is it something we develop with life experience? Or a mixture of the two? One could argue that this is yet another expression of the age-old “nature v. nurture” debate!

    If we accept – as well we should – that ALL people are different; that ALL people are a different mixture of innate traits and life experiences; then we MUST accept that different people’s levels of emotional resilience will differ, too. Furthermore, it could well be that our emotional resilience is variable over time. So, a person could in one instance be extremely emotionally resilient, yet in another be anything but. This may well be dependent upon the nature of the situation within which a person finds him- or herself, and also could take account of mitigating factors such as external sources of support.

    To even attempt to evaluate and judge people on the basis of emotional resilience is unwise, at best. Different people cope in different ways, using a wide variety of coping strategies. These coping mechanisms can be healthy, or unhealthy; sometimes a coping mechanism can be both. Ironically, this could well be situation-dependent, in that a coping mechanism that works well (and is thus considered healthy) in one situation may prove disastrous (and thus unhealthy or maladaptive) in another. It is to be added that humans probably learn about coping – and its effectiveness or otherwise – via trial and error, so at some time or other we may ALL find ourselves unable to cope. Is this something, therefore, that we should be judged on the basis of? Or does this imply judgmentalism? Ought we not to appraise ourselves FULLY of an individual’s personal circumstances BEFORE making any sort of judgment? And… IF we become aware of said circumstances, does the nature of these circumstances determine how well we might consider a person to be coping? Do the CIRCUMSTANCES make a difference?

    Furthermore, it may well be that we find it harder to cope – harder to demonstrate emotional resilience – when faced with dilemmas or crises in which we are emotionally invested. Things that we are close to – things that we experience personally – affect us in a far greater and deeper way than things which we merely know about from second-hand information.

    ALL things to consider!

    To get you thinking about what I have written, here are some hypothetical examples…

    Imagine you have “Social Worker A”, who comes happily into work every day, and seems perfectly well-balanced and emotionally resilient. This person generally appears able to deal on a day-to-day basis with the work. So, is this person “emotionally resilient”?

    “Social Worker B” also comes happily into work every day, until they are told that, unfortunately, the whole office in which they work will now be “hot desking” as a money saving measure. This social worker tries to adjust, but is disconcerted by the constant need to hunt for a desk to work at, and by the impersonal layout of the office. “Social Worker B” complains that it is now harder to do the job. Is “Social Worker B” less emotionally resilient than “Social Worker A”, whose office does not have “hot desking”? Or, is a complaint about working conditions, and the difficulty of doing the job when forced to “hot desk” justified? Indeed, is it a necessary complaint, because it flags up the fact that working conditions may be negatively impacting upon productivity, which is a valid issue for an employer to be made aware of, as it has implications for the employer too?

    Meanwhile “Social Worker C” admittedly finds work somewhat stressful. This person is trying to manage a long-term health condition, whilst also working. They can work, but require that reasonable adjustments are made to accommodate a need to take breaks and manage pain, as well as to attend necessary medical appointments. Is the ability to manage a chronic health condition, or disability, whilst working a sign of emotional resilience? Or, is the fact that reasonable adjustments have to be made a sign that the person lacks emotional resilience, because the adjustments were made to reduce the stress of working with a disability?

    Finally, “Social Worker D” initially managed well at work, and found everything just fine. Until a family crisis loomed, and they found themselves dealing with a full-time job, the extra demands of an elderly and terminally-ill mother, disagreements with siblings over how their terminally-ill mother should be cared for, and a move of house – all occurring at the same time. “Social Worker D” finds this immensely frustrating and stressful, but is keen to continue working, provided support is provided to assist with this difficult time. This support includes the taking of emergency leave to deal with the family crisis. Is this a sign of emotional resilience, and a caring, loving person who prioritizes their dying mother’s needs? Or, is it the sign of a lack of emotional resilience? Should “Social Worker D” put their own needs before those of their dying mother? Would this be a greater sign of resilience; or simply of selfishness and a lack of empathy?

    I suspect that people may experience a difference of opinion in respect of how they might view these different social workers’ levels of resilience. This is because I cannot help but think that ones perception of another person’s apparent degree of emotional resilience is just that – a PERCEPTION. It is NOT necessarily a hard-and-fast, nor accurate, evaluation. Indeed, different people will perceive differently for a variety of reasons. These may include their own levels of resilience and how they compare these to the resilience of others. Also, life experience will have an impact. The person who has personally experienced adversity may find it easier to empathise with another person who has also experienced adversity, and thus may see the ability to cope with adversity (however limited that coping is) as evidence of resilience. A person who has little personal understanding or experience of adversity may not understand the difficulty that another person has when faced with coping with adversity, and may regard this person as lacking resilience. Instead, they may adopt a “why aren’t they coping, they must be weak” sort of attitude – which is akin to victim blaming.

    Added to the above remains the problem of society’s false beliefs in relation to emotional resilience. Some people falsely think that resilient individuals do not experience, or show, negative emotions such as anger, fear, confusion, pain… Indeed, they may believe that emotional resilience represents an unemotional ability to “tough it out”. Such people would be wrong, and would consequently make very poor judges of emotional resilience in others. The truth is that even emotionally resilient people get hurt, get upset, get angry… Their resilience develops as a result of their experiencing these things, acknowledging the experience, and learning from it. However, even this – alone – does not create emotional resilience. Other factors are at play, too, and these are factors over which the individual may have NO CONTROL WHATSOEVER.

    For example, people DO NOT choose the stressors that occur in their lives. Rarely, if ever, do people consciously opt for lives full of trauma and crises. I doubt that anyone would ask to become seriously ill, or to see a loved one become seriously ill. I doubt that anyone would ask to be the victim of crime, or abuse. I doubt that people ask to be raised in situations where their parents are acrimoniously divorced, or have substance misuse problems, or mental illness. I doubt that people ask to be born into poverty or deprivation. I doubt that people ask to experience racism, or sexism, homophobia, disablism, bullying… People DO NOT actively seek out adversity. Therefore, they do not actively seek out conditions in which they must learn, and display, emotional resilience. Indeed, I would suspect that most (if not all) people would much rather live lives in which adversity is kept to an absolute minimum, if not removed altogether.

    People additionally DO NOT always have full control over those external factors which are said to contribute to resilience. Things like having supportive family and friends. Growing up in a supportive, tolerant and cohesive community. Having the advantage of a good education, a stable income, decent standards of housing… People DO NOT generally get to choose these things, either. A child cannot choose its parents, and so has little control over whether they are born into a loving, nurturing family, or an abusive and dysfunctional one. A person does not choose their race, or sex, or sexuality, or ability levels; nor do they choose how others react to these.

    Emotional resilience is far from clear cut, and the factors that make it or break it may be hard to define. Furthermore, they may vary from individual to individual – just as does the expression of emotional resilience.

    Given that this may be the case, then ought we not to ask the following:
    1. Just what gives anyone the right to think that they can judge, and rate, another person’s resilience?
    2. Should anyone be judging?
    3. Who judges the judge?

    Emotional resilience is NOT something that it is easy to hold up as a standard. Whilst it may be desirable for people to develop and possess it, whether and how we define and judge it is altogether a different matter. In fact, I cannot help but feel that judging it – and allowing such judgments to creep into the workplace – may turn out counter-productive, even disastrous. After all, if everyone is different, then how do we decide what level of resilience is desirable? Especially if it is situation- and circumstance-dependent? Furthermore, to permit the judging of resilience; especially by people who may know next to nothing about it; strikes me as somewhat impractical, if not risky, at best. The impracticalities and risks are manifold…

    1. How much time should the HCPC devote to gathering information regarding each registrant’s individual circumstances (surely a monumental task!) because without it, any assessment of emotional resilience may be inaccurate and judgmental?

    2. What will this cost?

    3. What right does any organization have to gather what might be deeply personal information?

    4. How will judgments be made, and by what standards will emotional resilience be assessed? (Will there be a “gold standard” against which people are judged? Will this be realistic?)

    5. Is there any understanding that emotional resilience may also vary from culture to culture, and that because of this, to make judgment of it could be perceived as racist?

    6. Might judgment of emotional resilience be rightly viewed as intrusive, or even punitive, by people who have admitted to struggling at one time or another? (Might such people fear being looked down upon, or viewed unfavourably?)

    7. Given that life is unpredictable, and that each and every one of us may face a crisis at one time or another, would it not make more sense to simply accept that a person’s emotional resilience may vary over time and that it is pointless to judge it?

    8. Given that our society is more attuned to the needs of able-bodied people, and that as a result disabled people sometimes struggle, or need additional assistance, might it not be viewed as discriminatory against disabled people to allow for judgment of emotional resilience to impact upon professional registration (especially as some people can still stigmatize disabled people, or see them as less capable)?

    9. Given that women’s and men’s roles in society may still differ, and that societal views regarding males and females may still differ, might it be possible that perceptions of men’s and women’s emotional resilience could differ too? Could this lead to further prejudice? (For example, women are still more likely to ask for reduced working hours to look after kids. Might this be misinterpreted as female lack of emotional resilience because people argue that they cannot cope with the pressure of working and raising a family?) Also, gender stereotyping could also affect perceptions of emotional resilience. Males are expected to be stronger and tougher than women, so a man who shows emotions, or cries may be unfairly perceived as weak. Could sexual stereotyping cause problems in respect of evaluating emotional resilience?

    10. Could prejudice and stereotyping in respect of sexuality also impact upon judgments of emotional resilience? For example, is a gay man who finally “comes out of the closet” but admits to finding this difficult showing emotional resilience or not? Might a person’s answer depend upon how they view homosexuals? Does the stereotyping of some gay men as “camp”, and some lesbian females as “butch” influence how others might view them in respect of their emotions? Are “camp” gay men fairly and accurately viewed as highly emotional and sensitive? Are “butch” lesbians fairly and accurately viewed as behaving more masculine than feminine?

    11. Ought we not to attempt to lessen society’s prejudices (for example racism, sexism, disablism, etc…) BEFORE we even attempt to evaluate, rate and judge people’s emotional resilience?

    To my eyes, the current fascination with emotional resilience is the fascination of people who do not understand it. Clearly, they do not understand that to judge a person on the basis of their emotional resilience – or perceptions of it – is inherently flawed. Besides, there is always the risk that, if professionals such as social workers are judged in this way, the profession will lose out. People who were once attracted to the profession, and who once brought something useful to it, might be put off. This applies especially to people who have come, themselves, from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter the profession. Could you imagine, for example, an Asian person who grew up facing racism wishing to be judged for their emotional resilience? Especially if they still find racism hard to deal with? But what if, otherwise, they are a perfectly regular person and a caring social worker? Could you imagine a person who grew up in an abusive family feeling comfortable with the concept that they could be professionally judged as a result of their perceived emotional resilience? Especially if they admit to having to take anti-depressants as a result of their early childhood trauma? It’s more than a little intrusive, and judgmental, isn’t it!

    We ought to remember that according to mental health charities, statistically 1 in 4 people may experience an emotional or psychological difficulty and resultant mental illness at any given time. Would it be fair to judge these people on the basis of perceived emotional resilience? After all, statistically, it could happen to any of us. Major life events such as moving house, experiencing a bereavement, changing job, getting married or divorced, having kids… these things are well known, and well proven, by researchers to cause increased stress. Should we face judgment as a result of this?

    Ought we not also to remember that an individual’s resilience is impacted upon by external factors? These include support that may, or may not, be available. In a corporate environment, many things, including the nature of the workplace, training and supervision, management style, approachability of colleagues and supervisors, office policies, and so forth can impact upon the emotional resilience of staff. Is it right, then, to judge individual staff on the basis of their emotional resilience?

    I will here add something else for you all to think about. Just HOW did people become aware of emotional resilience in the first place? Well, the answer might be to study it. Fine, you might think… BUT consider this. Studies of emotional resilience involve studying people who are SUFFERING. People living in poverty, or deprivation. People who are, or were, being bullied or abused. People who have been the victims of crime. People who are disabled, seriously ill, or even terminally ill. Remember that I said that in all likelihood, NO PERSON CHOOSES TO EXPERIENCE ADVERSITY. Yet these studies focus upon adversity. Furthermore, the object is simply to observe the person facing adversity. There is NO requirement to step in and assist. NO requirement to ease the person’s suffering, or put an end to the adversity they face. Might this not be considered CRUEL? After all, surely any caring, empathic person would feel inclined to help a person in need? Surely any caring, empathic society would feel inclined to help a person in need?

    THESE questions are REALLY what is at the heart of the issue. In our modern-day, fast-paced and often dog-eat-dog society, ought we not to be asking just WHO it is that should take on the responsibility of caring for, and helping, those who face adversity? Is caring primarily the responsibility of the state, of families and social networks, or of individuals? Ought we to care primarily for ourselves, or do others have an obligation to care for us – one that is reciprocal, and part of the arrangements that come with living in any society? In attempting to answer such questions, we ought to remember that people such as social workers are people who WANT generally to care. Should they not be permitted, and supported, to do so? Should society not acknowledge, and even reward, the choice to care?

    Remember! Social work, and other so-called “caring” professions are meant to be about just that – CARING. They have acknowledged that society is something in which we all live, and something in which reciprocal arrangements to care should thus exist. These professions recognize that at one time or another, any person may face adversity; and that at such times, people need help. These professions, when working as they ought to, can benefit society by working towards the alleviation of such societal adversities as poverty, crime, abuse, homelessness, serious illness, disability, old age and infirmity… In doing so, do they not improve society in some way? Do they not seek to make society better for all? Do members of these professions not seek to apply empathy, caring, nurturing, support within their work? O.K. so not all of them get it right all of the time – but surely, apart from a few genuinely “rotten apples”, might it not be argued that many workers in the “caring” professions genuinely DO want to be caring?

    SO WHY BEAT THEM UP FOR IT? Being naturally caring is a good thing. wanting to care professionally is a good thing. Yet society needs to recognize that even the most caring of people IS only human. As much as any human may be emotionally resilient, it still benefits them to be supported, valued, respected, nurtured and cared-for in turn. When it comes to the “caring” professions, individual emotional resilience, societal and workplace support, and societal emotional resilience are deeply intertwined. Maybe even symbiotic in their relationship. Each feeds into the other. So, we CANNOT judge the individual without judging the society, or workplace, as a WHOLE.

    Ought we not also to be looking at, and maybe studying, just what it is that contributes to emotional resilience within an organization – say, for instance, the collective emotional resilience of a whole social work department? As it is, we do not yet know much about the features of resilient organizations. So, HOW can we judge the resilience of the individual, if we do not understand the resilience of the group, and its impact upon the resilience of the individual?

    For more reading on this subject, and perhaps to better inform yourselves as to the issues surrounding my debate, try reading…

    http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/emotional_resilience_louise_grant_march_2014_0.pdf

    europepmc.org/articles/PMC4243302

    http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/have-you-a-moral-duty-to-care-for-others-1.1830257

  4. Freya Barrington June 13, 2016 at 4:27 am #

    This is indeed an interesting piece. I wrote a blog in regard to emotional resilience in social workers and my own experience of being new in the work place. I detail the “baptism of fire” which I went through and try to outline some factors, which may help in developing resilient. How the HCPC intend to accurately assess this is indeed interesting as if anyone had asked me back then, I honestly thought I could cope with the stresses and strains of social work. You have to BE in the job to know whether or not you can adapt to the demands it makes on you.

    http://freyabarrington.blogspot.fr/2015/11/emotional-resilience.html?m=1

    • Ellie June 13, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

      I do congratulate you, Freya, on your heartfelt and honest blog. It’s refreshing to see such openness, and sharing. There is also some pretty useful advice there.

      Still, there are a few pointers that you make, which are a little questionable. Whilst it makes sense to suggest that staff share their concerns and anxieties with colleagues and managers – that is, they admit honestly to what they feel capable of being able to do – you really ought to consider the fact that NOT ALL colleagues and managers want to listen. Nor do they wish to share advice or ideas with you. Nor do they wish to offer support. Indeed, some of them give the impression that they would be far happier if you just went away.

      I have had the experience of feeling un-supported at work, and put under immense pressure. This was not in my first job. My first job was fantastic, with a supportive and highly encouraging manager, and a team of colleagues who were open to the idea of peer support. I wish I had never left it! Unfortunately, the demands of a family crisis which included a relative’s terminal illness and death, as well as my moving house, lead me to move to a job closer to home. So that I did not have to commute, and so that I had more time to spend with family – especially the dying relative.

      The job I moved to was within a similar environment to the one you described. A spiralling caseload of complex cases, many of which required long-term involvement and could not easily be closed, added to a big impersonal open-plan office where it was difficult to hear your own telephone conversations, let alone brainstorm with colleagues, was somewhat of a slap in the face. What made it worse was the fact that management all had separate little offices, often with closed doors, and you had to book appointments to see them. No just being able to discuss a case when needed. Added to this was a complete lack of regular formal supervision – initially it was not even provided at all. I had to ask why I was not getting supervision! Even once supervision was put in place, it felt ineffective. I recall on one occasion attempting to discuss with my manager various potential solutions to a service-user’s problems, with the hope that we could discuss their different merits and problems, and my manager’s response was “Do what you will. Social Workers are meant to be autonomous. Use your autonomy.” Whilst it may be so that Social Workers have autonomy, it is also the case that formal supervision is supposed to be there to provide an opportunity to reflect on practice, and to discuss where one’s caseload is going. Also, to discuss individual cases in detail if they are complex, and difficult to resolve. Surely, a Social Worker is being prudent in seeking advice, and the alleged professional expertise of a manager’s opinion?

      I might add to this that these were not the first problems I encountered. During my induction, I had to ask repeatedly even for basic facilities. I was not even provided with a desk or computer to enable me to do my work! Added to that, I had made my employers aware of a long-term health condition that required me to attend regular medical appointments. This was accepted when I was hired, and it was even agreed in my interview that on mornings where I had particularly bad symptoms, I could start work later, provided I made it up at the end of the day. Alas, I found that once I had commenced the job, if I did need to start work later, my manager pulled me up and asked why I was late! As to the attendance at medical appointments – my manager on one occasion had the cheek to tell me that I “ought to take my medical appointments outside work hours”! This was physically impossible, as I worked 9-5, and the Hospital which I attended for my medical appointments only scheduled appointments between the hours 9-5!

      Back to the computer situation! I was the ONLY Social Worker in the office who was forced to hot-desk. There were times when it was so hard to find a computer, that I had to go use one of the ones belonging to admin staff and secretaries! This made my job even more difficult, because I was concerned that I could not hold telephone conversations with service-users whilst using one of these workstations, because the secretaries might overhear. Would that breach confidentiality? After considerable time, and endlessly having to chase up my request that I have my own desk and computer, a computer was finally dumped on a disused and empty desk for me. NOT EVEN PLUGGED IN OR CONNECTED!!

      I hope from this that you get the picture. Much as the development of resilience may be useful in some situations, there are others where, frankly, the patience and tolerance of Mother Theresa would have been sorely tested! They are beyond resilience! I am eternally grateful to no longer be in that workplace! The atmosphere was one which I can only describe as bullying.