Strategy 1: Develop a Staff Wellness Action Plan

A staff wellness action plan (SWAP) is a formal document that describes a program's policies, procedures, resources, and goals for creating and maintaining a healthy workplace. The plan should include input from staff in every program role, including family services professionals and home visitors. The needs and resources of all staff, supervisors, and leaders should inform the plan, as should the needs and resources of program and community partners. Here is some guidance for developing your SWAP.

Identify Existing Program and Community Resources

Figure out what supports and information you have for developing and implementing a wellness plan. To do this:

  • Learn about the expertise of your team members.
  • Determine your time constraints and deadlines.
  • Find financial resources.
  • Gather existing data.
  • Identify the outcomes you hope to achieve.
  • Decide on the action steps you and others need to take to reach those outcomes.

Conduct a Program-wide Wellness Assessment

Identify the wellness-related strengths and needs of staff in each role. Be sure to seek the input of family services professionals and home visitors in this assessment, as some of their work with families can affect their wellness (e.g., talking about sensitive topics, such as child and family trauma, can cause stress).

Burnout: a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.

Be sure that your SWAP includes regularly monitoring for staff wellness. This plan should identify when staff experience compassion fatigue—emotional stress from bearing witness to the traumatic experiences of others (also called "secondary traumatic stress"). Several tools are freely available to monitor staff wellness, burnout, and secondary stress.

Establish a Clear Process for Working with Community Partners

Supporting the wellness of family services professionals and home visitors also involves working with partners in the community that can offer supports that your program cannot provide directly. Such supports include mental health or substance abuse treatment, spiritual support and mentorship, health care, and other formal and informal community supports. In addition, you will want to develop for your program clear policies, procedures, and supports that help family services professionals and home visitors overcome barriers to accessing services (e.g., difficulty getting time off from work or finding child care, transportation issues, stigma, institutional racism). Many of these barriers disproportionately affect people of color.

Make Sure the Plan Is Culturally and Linguistically Responsive

A wellness plan must consider the beliefs, values, practices, and preferred languages of all staff, supervisors, and leaders in the program. Creating your plan with an inclusive lens ensures that the support you provide is responsive to a wide range of strengths and needs. Using the input and perspectives of family services professionals and home visitors to shape your plan further ensures its effectiveness.