Unregulated social care workers: their lived experiences in the workplace and the development of a new conceptual approach to supervision support

May, Victoria (2023) Unregulated social care workers: their lived experiences in the workplace and the development of a new conceptual approach to supervision support. Doctoral thesis, Plymouth Marjon University.

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This study aimed to explore the lived experiences of unregulated social care workers’ (USCWs) and supervisors’ social care practice and supervision; to explore how individual wellbeing is experienced and managed in the workplace; investigate perceptions of factors affecting engagement with and effectiveness of supervision encounters; and generate ideas for future support and supervision approaches. The health and social care sector workforce is in crisis, impacting on quality of care, worker health and wellbeing, recruitment, retention and service user safety and accessibility. The workforce is exposed to increased risks of harm from workplace violence, abuse, distress, burnout, financial insecurity, and systemic inequality. Yet the beneficial workplace support process of supervision, remains ill-defined, unstructure dand underutilised. The lack of literature pertaining to unregulated social care workers stalls progress toward conceptualising a more effective, responsive, and compassionate organisational wellbeing response. This thesis reports on research which aimed to address this gap in the literature. An ongoing, iterative comprehensive literature review informed three integrated phases of research. In Phase One, 14 unregulated social care workers from a variety of services participated in semi-structured interviews to explore their everyday lived, and supervision experiences, and how these experiences impact on wellbeing and practice. Results demonstrated that the unregulated social care workforce is commonly exposed to experiences of workplace abuse and violence, exploitation, increased risk and vulnerability, burnout, and exhaustion. They are likely impacted by wider systemic inequalities, detrimental mental health, and wellbeing issues, have lived experience of vulnerability and unmet needs, and are unlikely to have access to effective workplace support and supervision processes. In Phase Two, nine managers from a variety of social care services and with supervisory responsibilities, took part in semi-structured interviews exploring their experiences with the supervision process. Results demonstrated that managers with supervisory responsibilities found the supervision process ill-defined and inconsistent; were largely unsupported with its effective delivery; lacked specific supervision skills training, and perceived supervision as a beneficial wellbeing and practice support tool that many organisations were unable to take advantage of. Phases One and Two were underpinned by an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) approach, which complemented the insider/researcher nature of the inquiry. In Phase Three, participants were invited to take part in two online focus groups to discuss the creation of supervision training for supervisees. Phase Three was undertaken as a collaborative reflexive feedback session and this feedback, alongside Phases One and Two, was integrated to inform a new approach to the supervision process and supervision training. The results from this study provide three recommendations for future research and important advancements around understanding the unique health, wellbeing, and support needs of the unregulated social care workforce. These include: exploring worker wellbeing from a holistic lived experience perspective; uncovering how prior lived experiences can impact on worker ability to tolerate stressful and harmful workplaces; applying a phenomenological lens to the unregulated social care workforce; recommending widening the scope of human factors theory by contributing a psychosocial aspect to the framework; applying a human factors and trauma informed approach to the supervision process; conceptually structuring the unregulated social care supervision process for the first time; and introducing a practical, user-led approach to supervision training for supervisees.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Depositing User: Ms Raisa Burton
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2024 14:06
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2024 14:06
URI: https://marjon.repository.guildhe.ac.uk/id/eprint/17779

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