The Heart of Frontline Practice

Heart of Frontline Practice is a series of collaborative initiatives by Dr Maeve Hurley, SHEP and Dr Nicola O’Sullivan to support frontline practitioners’ health and wellbeing.

“We are building a community of multidisciplinary reflective practice so that we might all feel more sustained and supported in our work ahead.”

Aware of the huge pressure that frontline practitioners face, Dr Maeve Hurley, Dr Nicola O’ Sullivan (independent social care consultant) and SHEP (The Social and Health Education Project) formed an alliance in 2019, long before Covid-19 times.

In March 2020 with the arrival of the global pandemic, the Heart of Frontline Practice group immediately rallied and responded by providing a series of free online self-care, reflective practice and peer support opportunities for frontline practitioners.

Since then, the Heart of Frontline Practice has:

  • Held an online space on 21st May 2020 for frontline practitioners to reflect on the impact of their work on them. This was to mark the original day planned for the 2020 seminar which had to be cancelled due to lockdown restrictions.
  • Organised an inspirational one-day virtual seminar, ‘Reconnecting with the Heart of Frontline Practice’ on 26th November 2020 to provide a safe and supportive online space to over 70 multidisciplinary frontline practitioners. Our keynote speaker, Dr Caroline Elton, an occupational and counselling psychologist, spoke about the importance of self-care in her presentation ‘Also human – the inner lives of frontline practitioners.’
  • Worked in partnership with PSYCHED, a Healthy Cities and Counties Programme, to support mental health in the workplace. To date, three groups of workers have been supported with an eight-hour programme called ‘Reflect and Engage’.
  • Held a second national virtual seminar on 25th May 2021 on ‘Vulnerability, Humility and Compassion at the Frontline’. Guest speakers included Dr Tim Dartington, Dr Kate Lucre and Dr Aisling McMahon.
  • Created an ongoing series of virtual ‘touch points’ where practitioners can join nourishing spaces to gather and reflect. This included a two-hour online workshop with Dr Colm O’ Connor on ‘Imagination and Compassion in Frontline Work’ on 5th October 2021.

Given the enormous pressure on systems and people, we feel that it is essential to create these regular ‘touch points’ so that we can take time out to pause, reconnect and think about how we are feeling.

Dates for the diary:

February 8th 2022:

A two-hour touch point facilitated by Andrew Cooper – Professor of Social Work at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, hosted by Dr Nicola O’ Sullivan

May 24th 2022:

Reconnecting with the Heart of Frontline Practice one-day national seminar

October 4th 2022:

A two-hour touch point facilitated by Jim Sheehan, SHEP

  • Almost 97% of the respondents believed that the seminar had provided a safe space for them.
  • 87.5% said that they felt reconnected with their work and what drew them into it.
  • 97% agreed that incorporating reflective practice into their work was important.

*Feedback from attendees of Reconnecting with the Heart of Frontline Practice 2020 seminar