Winter Support – Commissioned Staff Associates

Winter is here and as is often the case health and social care organisations will face staffing and capacity challenges. Winter is recognised as a period of increased pressure due to demand both in the clinical acuity of the patients and the capacity demands on resources within the trust and wider system. Other challenges such as Covid, infectious diseases including norovirus and winter flu mean that all sites experience increased pressure in patient flow.

Enable East has a pool of over 100 experienced Associates who are available to support you and your teams. Our commissioned services offer short and longer term contract opportunities at Agenda for Change rates. Contact us via to discuss your support requirements.

Our Associates have expertise in:

Medical specialist examples – Audiologists, Ophthalmologists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Dieticians, Nurses, Pharmacists, Speech and Language Therapists and many more

Supporting examples – Project Managers, Strategic leads, Administrative Support, Stakeholder/Patient Engagement, L&D Trainers, Communications

Benefits our commissioned support could offer

  • Same Day Emergency Care: reducing variation in SDEC provision by operating a variety of SDEC services for at least 12 hours per day, 7 days per week.
  • Frailty: reducing variation in acute frailty service provision. Improving recognition of cases that could benefit from specific frailty services and ensuring referrals to avoid admission.
  • Inpatient flow and length of stay (acute): reducing variation in inpatient care and length of stay for key pathways/conditions/cohorts. Implementing in-hospital efficiencies and bringing forward discharge processes for pathway 0f patients.
  • Community bed productivity and flow: reducing variation in inpatient care, length of stay and impact on mental health. Implementing in-hospital efficiencies and bringing forward discharge processes.
  • Care Transfer Hubs: implementing a standard operating procedure and minimum standards for care transfer hubs. This will reduce variation and maximise access to community rehabilitation and preventing re-admission.
  • Intermediate care demand and capacity: supporting the operationalisation of ongoing demand and capacity planning. This includes improved use of data to improve intermediate care including community rehab.
  • Virtual wards: standardising and improving care across all virtual ward services, improving care, preventing admission and improving discharge.
  • Urgent Community Response: increasing volume and consistency of referrals improving patient care, ease pressure on ambulance services, and avoiding admission.
  • Single point of access: driving standardisation of urgent integrated care coordination to facilitate whole system management of patients.
  • Training specialists to ensure your people and communities are properly prepared for Winter
  • Communication specialists who can help send the right message about services available and when to self-care
  • Creating the capacity to meet the demand. Enable East has a range of medical specialist roles – Audiologists, Ophthalmologists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Dieticians, Nurses, Pharmacists, Speech and Language Therapists and many more

What to do next 

The information above is just a brief introduction to the different support we might offer. Our team of Associates offer a wide pool of expertise which means we can normally find a solution to most challenges. Please contact us via and a member of the team will be in touch as soon as we can.



What job should I do?

As one of the Development and Skills Officers on the HeadsUp project I get asked this a lot. The answer is… I have no answer. It is a very difficult thing to decide what you would like to do for a job, especially if you have never worked before, had a career break, are unable to return to your previous career or just in general.

This is a decision that only you can make, but at HeadsUp we do talk this through and help you to come up with your own decision of what jobs you would like to do.

Here are some of the recommendations we make or activities we do together:

  • Look at volunteering in a sector you are interested in
    Sometimes if we have no experience in a sector it feels daunting trying to get a job in that sector, volunteering is a great way to test out whether you like the sector, AND make you more employable in the chosen sector as you then have volunteering experience to add to your CV.
  • Do a free Level 2 course in a sector you are interested in
    There are lots of free courses out there which will give you some knowledge of the sector you may be interested in to help you decided whether you may enjoy a role in that sector, it gives you a taster and as they’re free there is no harm if you change your mind about the sector after, plus courses are great to put on your CV so win win.
  • Research different job sectors
    A lot of the time we don’t know what jobs exist until we do some research, we may have an interest in a sector like Admin, but it’s a good idea to look in to what roles are within/involve Admin to see which jobs you may want to apply to – the National Careers Service ‘explore careers’ section on their website is great for this as you can also see what experience and/or qualifications are needed for different roles.
  • Online quizzes and assessments
    There are many websites that offer quizzes and questionnaires that will then suggest sectors based on your interests and skills from the results, this can give you ideas of sectors or jobs you may enjoy doing.
  • Look at the job market
    It is always best to consider what the job market is like in your local area or preferred working area, you need to be realistic as to what jobs are available in your area, for example you can’t get your heart set on working on a farm if you live in a built-up city with no farmland for miles. This can be done of job search sites to see what the most popular sectors are.
  • Work backwards
    Sometimes it is easier to work backwards, list all the jobs/sectors you wouldn’t want to work in to see what is left over, for example if you know you don’t want a customer service/public facing type role this will leave certain backhouse type of roles to consider such as warehousing. Make a list of these roles and then another list of ‘maybes’.
  • Think about your personal life
    Think about what you enjoy in your personal life and consider if you could do training to make it a career, for example if you love cooking could you become a chef or kitchen member, if you love gardening could you consider this as a career. Think about what you enjoy doing, if you like being social maybe customer service is for you, if you are very empathetic and enjoying helping and supporting others, maybe the case sector for you.

Remember that sometimes jobs are steppingstones to a potential career so it’s okay that you may not be in your dream job straight away.

Putting our money where our mouth is

It’s a sad reality that, with the ending of our funding, HeadsUp is going to stop taking referrals from the 14th of October. By the time you read this, we will very likely have enrolled our thousandth participant. In plain English, that means we will have supported one thousand people from Essex- including Southend and Thurrock- during the lifetime of our programme. One person for every 1,500 people in the entire county.

Teaching into action

One of our Development and Skills Officers had to make the difficult choice to look for a new job, so thought he’d put into practice what he’s been teaching others for several years. Having decided the sort of role he’d like to do he had to make sure his CV was suitable, displaying the most relevant skills and experience. Sometimes deciding what to leave out is as hard as deciding what to put in, but this is an essential bit of good discipline that also helps you to focus for the rest of the application.

Highlighting relevant skills

Having found a role and uploaded his CV, he then checked that all the relevant information had been extracted. The job he was applying for required a “personal statement” showing why he was suited for the role, so he followed a similar format to a cover letter. This meant highlighting how his relevant skills matched those required by the employer and backing this up with examples. He had to show why he was a “good fit”, and the ways in which he matched the values of the employer. Very often it is this step which is the most important in getting you through screening; and by doing a great job here you are also helping to prepare yourself for an interview.

With fingers crossed, the DSO sent off his application and was invited for an interview which was going to include a presentation- with just 48 hours’ notice. Having done his homework when applying initially, he was able to put together a presentation which both addressed the question asked and showed an understanding of the wider issues he would have to address if he was successful. He kept it simple, reading it through to make sure it met the time limit.

And then the interview!

The interview was to be held online. Prior to the interview, the DSO checked his equipment was working. As part of this, he used the camera function on his laptop to ensure that the lighting and background would be suitable for the interview: that he wasn’t in shadow, and that there were no distractions behind him. He then got into a suit, to show the interviewers that he was taking the meeting seriously.

As part of his interview preparation the DSO had reviewed the person specification and job description, looking for likely questions and working on STAR responses. He identified possible “threats” and worked out answers he could give on areas where he was not an expert. This gave him a bit of confidence going into the interview, and also helped him to manage his own expectations: at the end of the day, if someone ticked more boxes than him, then they would most likely be successful. He could only do his best.

The DSO logged in five minutes before the interview. He had the interviewer’s contact details to hand in case there were any connection problems but was able to sign in without an issue. After brief introductions he delivered the presentation before moving onto answering a range of questions. After what seemed like a very short hour the interview was over. He knew he’d given some good answers but wasn’t entirely convinced by others. Rather than dwell on the unknowable he resolved to get on with his day.

A successful outcome

Two days later (after periods of self-doubt!) he was informed that he’d been successful. This success came from following the same lessons DSOs share with participants- just another example showing that they work.

Christopher from Hatfield Peverel

I was a lecturer and a course team leader in higher education. I had been working there for 15 years and due to increased hours of work, I had no life outside. In February 2022 I left my job as I was suffering with severe depression and had had a mental break down. By June ‘21 my employer eventually had an occupational health report done but they didn’t follow the recommendations. I carried on working hoping that the routine would help, but it did the opposite.

By November it was obvious nothing was going to change apart from being told ‘phone the crisis line and contact your GP’. I knew that if I stayed in my job, and with rising scores on IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Service) my state of mental health would deteriorate. Whilst I was signed off sick, my employer didn’t do anything for me, and I felt let down. My workplace had caused my mental health to deteriorate further.

Not in a good place

My friends could see that I wasn’t in a good place, but I still applied for new jobs and even had a few interviews. On the one hand, I felt that I had to work as I needed an income and something to keep me going, but on the other hand not being in work gave me a break to get myself together.

(Health in Mind (IAPT) referred me to Mind, who directed me to the HeadsUp project for employment support. I was looking forward to HeadsUp and trying something new. After a chat with my Peer Support Worker (PSW) about the program, it was clear that they were good at chatting to me about my mental health and wellbeing.

Feeling more confident

They helped me think about different ways of coping and offered to provide me with support for the possible forthcoming work tribunal case. I was also quickly introduced to my Development and Skills Officer (DSO) as I wanted to get my CV checked over. They supported me with online applications, job searching and interview techniques. The sessions were very helpful, and I still use the websites suggested to look for work. Working with my DSO made me feel more confident.

During my time on the HeadsUp program, I have completed lots of courses in cyber security and got relevant certifications. If it weren’t for HeadsUp and their support, I wouldn’t have had the motivation to do this. I am not working yet, but I am going to be enrolling on another in person high level Cyber Security course, which I’m looking forward to doing.

Recommend HeadsUp

I worked with 2 PSW’s who were both excellent, and my DSO was incredibly good. The joined-up support from everyone made the system work well and
I would recommend HeadsUp to anyone in my position.

Meet Connor from Clacton

I had finished school and 6th form and was working as a customer assistant at my local Coop for few months. My anxiety and depression were starting to get bad, and I felt that my boss didn’t really understand, so I left my job. Feeling low, I went to the doctor who put me on antidepressants to help with the depression and anxiety. I shut myself away at home feeling depressed and completely in limbo.

I am close to my cousin, and they suggested going with them to travel for a bit and see our extended family. Even though I was anxious about going out again, it felt good to get out and be with family. But once I came home I started to feel bad and useless again. I felt I should be doing something. My Mum said to sign on and maybe they would be able to help with getting back into work. I knew that doing nothing was making me feel worse.

Referral to HeadsUp

I signed on at the Job Centre and my work coach helped me to attend different programs recommended for my anxiety, such as ‘Managing Anxiety’ with Adult Community Learning. After chatting to the tutor, from the college and explaining how I wanted to do something, but my anxiety is holding me back, she recommended HeadsUp.

I was a bit worried about joining as I didn’t know what to expect and the thought of meeting new people made me feel very anxious. The tutor was brilliant and helped me think about what I would gain and that I had nothing to lose from giving it a go. I knew I wanted to get more support and knowledge about how to do “stuff” such as interview support and how to create a CV. I think doing the managing anxiety course and talking with the tutor, gave me the confidence to join.

Meeting my Peer Support Worker

After meeting my Peer Support Worker (PSW) from HeadsUp we decided to work on my wellbeing first, and they put me forward for a Wellbeing Workshop. I was nervous to attend as it was online, but it was good. It made me feel able to break things down and look at different aspects of how I am feeling. It helped me look at the positives rather than focusing on the negatives. I was able to recognise when I’m having a bad day and how to move on.

Working with my Development and Skills Officer (DSO) was amazing. We met online over Teams each week which helped my confidence as it was kind of face to face and not just over the phone. It increased my confidence using Teams in case I had an interview online. We did job searching and job applications together. They taught me how to use the interview STAR (Situation, Action, Task and Result) technique so when answering interview questions, I have an idea of how to structure my answer. This made me feel good about myself and my nerves got better as I grew more confident.

HeadsUp put me in a Good Mood!

I started going to the gym with family just to get out more, and I was encouraged to talk to people. My Mum could always tell when I’d had a session with HeadsUp, as I would be in a good mood afterwards!

Looking back, I am most proud of applying for jobs and keeping my confidence, even when I don’t get a response. I know not to take it to heart. I am currently working towards enrolling with the Prince’s Trust and I’m happy about joining but a bit anxious as to what’s involved.

“I would say to others who are in the same position as I was, is 100% to use HeadsUp and I would recommend them. You get a proper foundation and you’re able to use the information from the sessions for the future. You get help in many ways and feel supported”.

Is it time to set some Boundaries?

I was brought up in a typical “Eastender” home.  The back door was always open, and the front door key was tied onto the back of the letterbox with a piece of string long enough to reach the keyhole so that you could always get in – that’s if you didn’t want to walk round the house to the back door!

Our house was always full – Brothers, Sisters, Grandkids, Neighbours, Neighbours kids, Cousins, Aunts, Uncles and even the occasional strays that my sister always brought home with her from her travels over the globe.  I was the youngest of five kids. It was loud, busy, bustling and hectic with a constant pot of tea on the go.  Mum would be cooking or sitting at her old Singer sewing machine; Dad would be discussing whatever the topic of the day was with whomever would listen.  My brother (who I hasten to add is 9 years older than me) used to lock me in the dark, cold pantry just for laughs.  And If Mum was on her sewing machine, she could never hear my screams of “let me out”!  It was all OK though, I always got out in the end!

Where is my privacy?

Don’t get me wrong; my family are awesome; loving, kind, supportive and big!  We have the most wonderful times together. We laugh lots, we sing and dance lots, we grieve together, we have holidays together and as for Christmas, if it’s only 24 of us, it’s a quiet one!  It really is “All for one, and one for All”. But, sometimes during the chaos, I thought it would be nice for me to be able to go somewhere on my own and have some privacy; you couldn’t pee in my house without someone sitting on the top stair talking to you!

As I got older, I felt confined and always felt unwell; racing heart, hot sweats, unable to breathe, lights being too bright, noise being too loud, and I wanted to escape the mayhem.  The older I got the worse my feelings became.  I used to try to hide in a bedroom and wished that I could lock myself away, squeeze my eyes shut and cover my ears.  I wanted some calm and quiet time without being criticised for being rude and anti-social.  Why would you want to be on your own when we’re all here? What’s wrong with you?  During my teenage years, I felt the need to escape the mayhem; do things that I wanted to do without having to invite everyone or justify why.  Easy, eh?  NOT!

Trying to make a change

As an adult, a Mum with two children, I remember the first time I said to my big sister that I wanted to have a quiet Christmas and for it to be just my immediate family.  You would have thought that I had delivered the worse news possible.  She cried, she gave me the silent treatment and said that she did not understand why I wanted to do this.  My reasoning was ignored, my truths were ignored, my feelings were ignored. Then the rest of the family joined in and said, “but we always spend Christmas together, what’s wrong with you?”.

My mental health has always been a challenge for me, and in later years my family rallied round helping with my children, pets and household.  But …. Shh “don’t tell the neighbours”!   And here’s the thing – it isn’t me that’s wrong, and neither are they.  It was instilled into us by our Grandparents and Parents in their two up and two down Eastend terraced houses since 1890, throughout the end of the British Empire and two world wars.

Finding personal boundaries

Boundaries were things that went around an object like a house or an Army Barracks.  Not round a person.  They just couldn’t get their heads around it.  And to be honest I didn’t know too much about them either.  I felt that something needed to change for me to save Me.  It was while I was waiting to see my psychiatrist for the third time when I started to read a magazine examining different types of Boundaries.  Emotional Boundaries, Personal Boundaries, Physical Boundaries, Mental/Intellectual Boundaries, Sexual Boundaries, Financial/Materialistic Boundaries, Professional Boundaries and Time Boundaries ….. Whoa! That’s a lot of boundaries!

I resolved there and then that I would start instilling some small boundaries in order to protect my wellbeing and to help to educate my children to be able to say NO without having feelings of guilt. I was going to try to break the cycle.  Boundaries can be influenced by one’s own upbringing, culture, religion and other factors.  People whose parents didn’t have “healthy” boundaries (like mine) often find it difficult to set “healthy” boundaries for themselves because we never learned how to do so.

Learning to set Boundaries

It’s all about little baby steps to start with.   I found the strength to say “No Thank You” and when the usual “why not?” followed (because I knew it would), I learnt how to be honest and truthful about my feelings, my wellbeing, my mental health.  I was polite and kept the conversation calm. “I feel that I need a quiet Christmas at home because I become overwhelmed and anxious when there are too many people around”.  Response = “But we’re family!” My reply – “I know, and I love you all, but my mental health and wellbeing is important to me, and I want to be at home for the holidays”.  Over time, I began to say “No Thank You” or “I’m sorry but I am really busy today; I hope you have a good time” to things that I really didn’t want to do.

I still struggle with my guilt over some of my Boundaries I have made with my family – but that’s Work in Progress, as is my family’s acceptance of the person I am now. I am still growing and learning and accepting and respecting myself.  I have also found that since instilling some of my Boundaries I am so much more respectful of other people’s choices and decisions.

It’s OK

It’s OK to say No, It’s OK to have “me” time and it’s OK to break the cycle.



Volunteering – what’s not to like?

Many of our participants decide that volunteering is a really positive first step back into the workplace.

Volunteering can provide a healthy boost to your self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction.

You’re doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment.

Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity.

You can develop your skills alongside all of this so really, what’s not to like?

The Universe and Our Mental Health

When I was asked to write my next blog, I spent some time thinking about what this topic would be about. I then began to think about the Super Full Moon, a cosmic phenomenon whereby the Moon appears to expand and become significantly brighter than usual.

Personally, I find the Universe fascinating and relaxing! It’s a proven fact that the Moon can have an impact on our situations. Astrological signs have been utilised throughout history to assist in the determination of the future, and have been closely associated with their potential ability to predict certain life events. Of course, many people are sceptical about the use of star signs, although in some instances it may help those who are unsure of their personal trajectory and take comfort in trusting in a superior, omnipresent force.

Worrying about small things

Alternatively, the example of the Universe could illustrate the pointlessness of worrying over trivial matters in our personal and professional lives. Sometimes, merely observing the magnanimity of the Universe can help individuals cope with the smaller day-to-day issues without feeling overwhelmed by them. In this sense, we can appreciate that in such a large and extensive Universe, our own issues can be put into manageable context.

If we can let some of our own worries go we may feel better placed to be able to concentrate on all of the good things that life has to offer each one of us. The smallest of things can bring us great joy and appreciation!

I love to look up at the stars on a clear evening and find that my curiosity wonders in relation to the other life that exists out there. We can see millions of stars in the Universe and a myriad of other phenomena (including, on occasion throughout the year, a Super Full Moon), all fascinating sights that do not cost anything and can leave a lasting image in our mind reminding us that anything is possible!

Looking to the sky

Sometimes it is helpful for our mental health to take a moment to look up at the Universe on a clear night and to appreciate the enormity of it – we may even find that we can more properly tackle the challenges in our life once we have reinstated a sense of proportion. Looking up at the night sky can help us feel better connected to something much bigger than yourself, as well as assisting the practise of mindfulness including helping to relax and calm the brain (especially when it is overworked, stressed or preoccupied). The Universe can also help us to be more mentally adventurous, which could lead us to new opportunities, improved mental health and a better quality of life.

Being outside, and your mental health

Being outside is something that your parents and teachers encouraged when I was younger. I loved being outdoors especially in the lighter and warmer months. I never really thought about why I was encouraged to be outside though. Scroll forward a few years and having my own kids, I now say the same to them and how being outside is good for you. Being open with our kids about mental health and how being outside is good for our physical and mental wellbeing is a great way for them to understand the importance of just being outside. I tell them about how our brain behaves and the feel-good factors that are produced when we are outside and enjoying our surroundings.

What’s going on?

Now I know we all don’t live near a park, by the sea or some fab nature reserve or even have a garden but you don’t need to. I live in a built-up area but I thought I’d start looking around my surroundings of where I actually live. What I mean is what’s going on, you know on my doorstep? I have been noticing the green space (although droughted by our summer sun!) the space there and what’s around it. If there is a bench, then I’ll have a seat and just people watch and watch the world go by.

It has made me think about my usual driving to a park, a place of interest, paying for petrol, parking and even an entrance fee. So, when I really thought about it in a different light, I’m looking to go somewhere to feel happy, peace, calm, blow the cobwebs away and serenity. I have this on my doorstep and it’s for free!

My Surroundings

I’ve now spent time walking to most of the green spaces in my area and really noticing the surroundings. I like looking at the different house styles, the birds playing and their tweeting, insects climbing over each other and even signposts that I’d never really noticed! I like how I get the same feelings as I did as a child, being outside and just doing nothing but having fun exploring.

Who would have thought that discovering what’s going on in my surroundings and taking time to just sit for a bit, people watch and chat to others sharing the same free space, could be so exhilarating and great for my mental health?

Music and your Mental Health

I think that we are all specially connected to music and can find comfort in it. When we were carried in our mother’s womb we heard her heartbeat and have probably been innately affected by rhythm ever since.


When we tune in to sound or tap into a rhythm I think it can take us to a place of safety and healing where we can switch off from the stresses and strains of life outside. This is good to know as the factor of stress has been widely cited as influencing our mental health and even sometimes bringing on a crisis.

Soundtrack to our lives!

Music has such a presence. It can be like a soundtrack to our life. What would a film be like without its musical soundtrack? Some people work or study with music playing, some people find it helpful to walk through town with headphones on and some people turn to music to consciously relax and rest. I think that it can be a lovely idea to have a personal playlist or songbook of our favourite songs and pieces of music to reflect our different moods and states of mind. It is good to keep on working on this through good times and bad. It is a good thing to identify or search out the pieces of music or songs that make us happy, that help us when we feel sad, that we can relax into or concentrate with.

Your mental health

For help with mental health I think that it is nice to know that music is perfectly harmless and that it really doesn’t matter how long we listen for. As some addictions are very harmful or worrying it is good to know that here is one that can be indulged in to our heart’s content! And there’s always more music to explore. There is power in music. It can change the way we feel or think. It has been said that if we listen to a piece of music by Mozart for example that it can actually temporarily alter the functioning of the brain and boost the IQ. This is known as the Mozart Effect. And babies can be soothed and lulled to sleep by gentle strains of music. We, as living beings, are constantly vibrating in a subtle sense and so if we tune in to the vibration of a pure or uplifting piece of music it can change our own frequency!


If we are able to make music with an instrument or our voice it can be so beneficial to make use of this gift to help with our mental health. So many people have benefited from joining a choir, joining a drumming circle, singing in church, singing in the shower or learning to play an instrument. Or sometimes it is nice to sing along to a catchy song with somebody else. It can help us to connect. And deeper connection is great for mental health recovery. I really think that music is something we can always turn to in times of mental health difficulty or distress and be helped by. It is a friend. It can nurture us and help us and keep us broadening our horizons.