Northumbria University researchers found that Psychological First Aid training can help healthcare workers in care homes improve their wellbeing.
A new study has found that Psychological First Aid training which was originally designed for people to help support others, could help healthcare workers in care homes who need extra support with their mental wellbeing. It was first developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and now, Psychological First Aid (PFA) is recommended to train healthcare workers and other individuals to support them in emergencies.
Despite Psychological First Aid training being originally created for people to support others, scientists from Northumbria University and the University of Highlands and Islands (UHI) have realised the training would be useful for care workers taking care of their own mental health.
Offering free access to Psychological First Aid training in the UK
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK Government offered free access to Psychological First Aid training to support frontline staff, such as 1.8 million people working in care homes across the country.
The researchers explored the uptake of Psychological First Aid training and its effects. They found that training uptake was low in healthcare workers – less than 10% of the study participants had done the training. However, those who had completed the training coped better.
The training helps with overcoming stress and coping
The researchers found that Psychological First Aid training helped with overcoming stress and coping via self-growth and improving relationships with others, but there was a concern around accessibility, which the researchers outline could explain low uptake of training.
Some of the participants explained the training helped them cope better when considering quitting their job and promoted resilience, with one individual commenting: “(PFA) has helped me cope better, it was a position I was thinking of giving up at one time and now I have the strength to carry on.”
Others described how it helped support them in their experiences of bereavement to overcome the trauma of the pandemic: “I found it (PFA) useful as it helped me cope with bereavement as well as the experience of seeing relatives affected by COVID-19.” Another participant went as far as to say that PFA training “should be made compulsory for all staff especially in nursing and care homes during the pandemic or not.”
Dr Mariyana Schoultz, the project lead and Associate Professor in Mental Health in Northumbria’s Department of Nursing, Midwifery and Health, said: “Findings suggest that PFA training has the potential to: strengthen resilience for staff in health and social care; promote anti-stigma messages and normalise help seeking behaviour; PFA holds the potential to minimise the risk of developing more serious psychological problems such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But we need more research in this area.
“We therefore recommend that consideration be given to funding an integrated programme of research and development to further develop, implement, and evaluate a co-produced iteration of PFA for use in the UK care home sector and beyond.”