Why we should implement trauma-informed care as common practice in social care

In today’s blog, we discuss the ins and outs of trauma-informed care and why it should be common practice in social care settings. 

What is trauma?

Before we delve deeper, let’s discuss exactly what trauma is and how it can manifest itself. 

Trauma is defined as: “a severe and lasting emotional shock and pain caused by an extremely upsetting experience, or a case of such shock happening” (Cambridge Dictionary Online, 2023). 

This could be something like a severe injury, chronic or terminal illness diagnosis, abuse or death of a loved one. 

Signs of trauma 

In order to provide the highest quality of care, social carers need to be familiar with the common signs of trauma. These can include the following: 

  • Nervous disposition – Service users who have been exposed to trauma might appear permanently anxious or even jumpy. This is because people with PTSD are usually hypervigilant as they have a heightened fear of perceived danger. 
  • Avoidant – Withdrawal from social situations or avoidance of ‘triggering’ places is very common among trauma survivors. 
  • Overly emotional – Due to their already heightened anxiety, people who have been through trauma may be overly reactive to certain situations or stimuli.
  • Physical response – Sometimes the body has a delayed/ongoing physical response to distressing circumstances, which can present as anything including headache, stomach ache, panic attacks and unexplained fatigue. 
  • Difficulty completing everyday activities – Basic errands such as cooking, washing and getting dressed can be extremely challenging for those with PTSD. This is often a result of feeling overwhelmed trying to shut out painful memories. 

What is trauma-informed care? 

Put simply, trauma-informed care is centred around deepening our understanding of how trauma impacts individuals socially, neurologically, psychologically and biologically. 

It aims to prevent re-traumatisation and improve the quality of care being provided to trauma-experienced service users. 

The approach seeks to look beyond the individual’s ‘issues’ and rather, focus on the support needed to help empower them. 

Consultant Clinical Psychologist Dr Sheena Webb says: “At the heart of trauma-informed care is broadening our awareness and understanding of trauma, and the many ways that it affects individuals. By understanding how trauma affects the people we work with, and looking at what we do through their eyes, we can start to adapt our practice to meet their needs.” 

What are the key principles of trauma-informed care? 

The Office for Health Improvement & Disparities the 6 key principles of trauma-informed care as being: 

  • Safety – Creating a safe environment for the individual and making it clear that their safety and wellbeing are your priority. 
  • Trustworthiness – Transparency is key here. Ensure the service user is aware of what is happening and why. This also means staff setting clear expectations. 
  • Choice – Decision-making is supported by social workers, and a person in a care setting is given a voice. 
  • Collaboration – Coming together to solve problems and provide support.
  • Empowerment – Listening and responding to the needs of service users and staff – all feelings are validated. 
  • Cultural consideration – Ensures policies meet the needs of everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability, geography, race or ethnicity.

We hope this proves useful as a resource for learning – make sure to share with your colleagues to we can, together, improve the quality of care across the UK. 

In the meantime, why not take a look at our current social worker roles? !e can help you find a role that meets all your needs, both professionally and personally. 

Interested? Get in touch with us now by calling 0203 8929 340 or email us your CV and job preferences to [email protected]. Let us help you make your mark!

carlette Isaac

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