Dudley Sawyerr, Care Sector Expert and Professional Tree of Life Facilitator Talks to Us!

As the Professional Tree of Life Workshops across Southeast London continue to bring support to more and more Care Sector staff, we caught up with Dudley Sawyerr (@SawyerD here in the Community), Care Sector Expert for his thoughts on why this is proving to be so helpful.

Thank you, Dudley, for giving us your time today; it is very much appreciated. If it’s okay, we are going to ask you some questions on your experience of the Professional Tree of Life Workshops.

Q. Professional Tree of Life seems to be quite a new way of helping people working in social care support their mental health; how would you describe it for someone who is interested?

Dudley: Social Care seems to have been in the shadows of the NHS, and the Keeping Well Team recognised this, and that the pandemic has had an effect on the mental health and wellbeing of both sets of staff.

Professional Tree of Life has given a space to hear the thoughts, experiences, dreams, wishes for now and for the future of staff during these sessions. It has been unique because it takes place at care organisations premises of choice, with groups of staff in working hours but it is also unique as it was originated in Zimbabwe.

It involves drawing a tree and writing your stories while thinking about how each part of the tree relates to you in life and work, during the workshop. You get to share your thoughts and reflections of strength and resources individually and as a group.

Q. We hear that you’ve been getting great feedback! What are Care Sector staff finding helpful?

Dudley: When they hear training, social care workers are expecting a very formal session. They are quite surprised to find it to be a more reflective and therapeutic session, and at times emotional.

But we have also found that not many outside organisations have gone into the care organisations let alone asked them how they have felt.

Being heard also has meant the staff feel valued and this seems to be an important point they feel, that the government, general public and organisations should be aware of.

Q. That’s brilliant to hear, that how they are feeling matters.
It sounds like quite a big event for some organisations? Can you do smaller Workshops?

Dudley: Yes, and it’s not just for large care companies and groups; any care business should be able to benefit.

It is more about the reflection from the staff rather than the numbers of people, so smaller numbers are fine and we have worked with groups as little as 6 and it has been very interactive.

Q. What do you think are the benefits from attending a Professional Tree of Life Workshop?

Dudley: I believe it is individual to each person in the workshop, but it is time to stop (working) time, to share their own experiences, fears, and strengths.

The session can be interactive, with no restrictions, as the space is their own and what is said in the room stays there. Everyone gets their own workbook to keep for the future, alongside a certificate of training. This is important for the carers own continuous professional development which they can put on their CV.

We are aware the care workforce has busy lives, so coming together in one place especially for those in Home/Dom Care or even Supported Living has meant staff have been able to see colleagues for the first time or for a long time, being together.

We provide breakfast or lunch, and staff are able to meet, hug colleagues and speak to those who they have only spoken to via phone or WhatsApp.

We also give the staff who attended some of our KWSEL merchandise, which I believe is very sort after in South East London!

Q. I know…I’ve been trying to get some of that merch. myself :smiley:

But it’s really moving that you are both creating opportunities for people to meet, after such a long time, but also thinking about their future needs and development. It’s really inspiring.

What for you have been standout moments?

Dudley: I really enjoy hearing carer’s journeys, of how they started or got started in the sector.
I also love hearing the different types of trees, especially with the truly culturally diverse workforce of social care. I couldn’t have imagined the vast range of trees that I am now aware of.

But I recently heard from a carer of how Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton (who had Asperger Syndrome) inspired them to work in care. Because regardless of someone having Asperger syndrome or a similar condition, they can still be brilliant and there is hope for anyone with support.

Q. That’s a really nice point on how inclusive and supportive the Sector is.
Is going out to care homes and connecting with people where they work part of the success?

Dudley: Unfortunately, and sadly the pandemic caused a disconnect for the staff and residents/clients, and reduced visits. So yes, staff have been very happy to see us from the Keeping Well Team in person and to be able to listen to them has definitely helped.

Being in their own environment allows them to feel safe, this is important and helps with the trusted space.

Q. If people have valued or enjoyed the Professional Tree of Life Workshops, any suggestions about what they can do to build on that?

Dudley: Professional Tree of Life goes beyond just individuals but the strength of everyone coming together as a forest. We can think of our teams as forests, and when we respond as a collective forest, we can weather storms and celebrate their passing.

Staff can continue to get together and go over some of the themes in their team meetings. They can also recommend it to staff who didn’t attend.

But most importantly ask the Keeping Well Team to come back in the future, so you can share with them your thoughts or any suggestions that the Team can share with other care organisations. That way we can build a collective forest of care organisations, to help strengthen and support all of them.

**Sounds like a great way to keep the forest alive and strong, by keeping in touch with the Keeping Well Team.

People can also ‘meet-up’ here too, in the Community, in between Workshops or other meetings, just by pressing the Sign Up button in the top right corner.

Thank you again, Dudley, for sharing such inspiring stories, and for taking this fantastic support out to those who it will help!**