In the need of some positive ideas for how to boost resilience for yourself, your staff and/or families you work with during these challenging times? Inspired by the domains of resilience diagram below, Homes for Families’ Policy Action Team shared some examples of how their family shelter agencies are building resilience.
HFF’s Policy Action Team-inspired examples for building resilience within the family shelter setting (these are examples from different family shelter providers and partner agencies, that are a part of our policy action team, many of which are descriptions of practices happening currently within family shelters):
- Creating an overall level of emotional flexibility within congregate (family shelter) settings where tensions tend to run high, even on a good day.
- Case managers are really trying to bring and provide some emotional space in their approach and in their actions, allowing families to feel the way that they feel, without any level of judgment and giving leeway around repercussions – recognizing everyone has these feelings, anxieties and it’s ok to feel the way.
- For staff and participants, finding ways for them to feel power within their own lives again. The whole situation makes people feel powerless, and when talking about survivors of Domestic Violence (DV), especially, who have already experienced so much loss of power, talking about what they want to do, planning ahead, looking forward to stuff, thinking of things to do in the house, and sometimes doing those things with them, all can help. This includes: safety planning around what if I get the virus.
- At our congregate shelter, we do a check in: in the morning and at night (optional of course and physical distancing is observed). We are in one big meeting space where folks can be spread apart and we create space for families to share what they hope will happen that day and how they are feeling on that day. At the end of day, they can reflect on how the day went and how they are feeling about the day now (it’s simple but provides a space for productive and kind interactions, amidst
sometimes explosive, tough behavior under these circumstance).
- Especially for kids, the emotional piece is important: this is a huge change to what life looked like before, so to help them do activities where they can get out their energy but control their own bodies. So you can do high energy activity and then calm activity to follow. It helps them learn they can be safe in their space and gives them a chance to connect with grownups, while helping them learn how to regulate their own bodies, and navigate big feelings.
- Being able to have open conversations within an agency, across levels of staff (e.g. from mid or front line staff speaking to supervisors and CEOs) where staff express how they are feeling and can be honest about the challenges right now. One Policy Action Team member shared an example where one person finally opened up to leadership and said how much they were struggling. And eventually, it opened up to a lot of conversation. What hit the most was to hear our leadership tell us it is perfectly natural to re-define what “our best” is. Doing “our best” needed to be re-defined. “It was a really healing phrase. “
- For leadership to be caring for staff and make sure any group meeting, includes a self care piece, so staff know what can be provided.
- Supporting staff during this time, means putting in hazard pay (increased compensation) for staff on the front lines.
- Sending, via text or other virtual methods, simple notes of appreciation to families, to staff.
- Having extra compassion and flexibility with each other.
Homes for Families sees building resilience during this challenging time, as directly connected to promoting trauma informed care. As a partner at our April Community Meeting shared, promoting trauma informed care during this time can be as simple as having extra compassion and flexibility with each other.
We are grateful to be connected with all of you, the Homes for Families network of providers, families, advocates and partners. You hold a wealth of knowledge, insight, love and compassion that we hope to continue to draw out. We’ll be sharing ideas and practices we need in order to bring our best selves to the table for each other and families facing housing instability and homelessness at this time.
Liz and Team HFF
We’ve created a shareable pamphlet with these self-care and resiliency tips.
Find it here: HFF Promoting Self Care and Resiliency Tips.