Looking After You Too Case Study: GP

Role and Context

At the time of the coaching the GP was a long-standing GP Partner at a medium sized practice.  As a result of the coaching, they decided to stand down from being a GP Partner and work in the practice part-time (solely clinical sessions). 

Even before the pandemic started in March 2020, the practice was already busy in terms of clinical needs, and a lot of change was occurring in the practice, with changes to the e-consult system, and losing a Practice Manager.  They found themselves undertaking a lot of administrative roles (which they recognised was associated with their partnership role), and they wanted to reduce their workload.  

“Even prior to Covid-19 you needed to have broad shoulders to be a partner, and just through all of this I didn’t think that my shoulders were broad enough really.” 

Challenge of Covid-19 on own wellbeing

The GP described the changes because of Covid-19 as ‘substantial’. Consultations all become remote, and with reduced staffing at the practice, managing the necessitated adjustments were a source of tension.  This led them to question their role within the practice, and how they could continue if the situation remained.

“The whole thing was tumultuous, and I was not sure what to do about it.  It soon became clear that I either stayed and reduced my workload or did not stay at all.”

Patient demand also increased dramatically.  The practice itself recorded one of the first cases of Covid-19 in the country and had to cope with Covid among the community in which they were based as well as in the practice itself.  Staff had concerns about catching Covid when seeing patients, even though they did have the required PPE. 

The practice did attempt to help morale and wellbeing amongst staff, but the GP admitted that this was quite difficult as a lot of energy was focussed towards maintaining patient and staff safety and providing the best quality of patient care they could.  The practice recognised that some staff were vulnerable and made sure the personalised work plans were devised to ensure safety and good hygiene for all.  To reduce social isolation (because of the required social distancing), virtual staff huddles occurred every morning, but the GP found it very hard to adapt to these.

“I couldn’t really cope with all the changes that were needed.  I have worked in the sector for many years, and it all felt very odd.  The problem is, I am someone who doesn’t really like change, so I was finding this all very strange and stressful.”

How Looking After You Too coaching helped

The GP recognised that they required some help or guidance in deciding what to do next, and this is what triggered them to contact the Looking After You Too service that they had seen advertised in their local CCG e-mail. 

The participant was aware that change was needed and described the coaching process as a ‘really useful tool’ for discussing the pros and cons of potential future options they could pursue.  They discussed a range of potential scenarios, including changing their role at the practice, increasing their teaching hours, and possible retirement.

They mentioned how the coach was able to ask pertinent reflective questions, encouraging them to think about what they really valued about their work, and how this ‘fitted-in’ alongside other aspect of their life they also considered to be important.  They were recommended to use the ‘circle of life’ tool, which helped them to understand how various components of their life were tethered, what made them most happy and thus what they should retain and focus on going forward.

“The coach was clearly very experienced, and they listened.  I really appreciated the time they gave me, and they got me to think about the questions that I have recently tended to avoid.”

Impact of the coaching

The GP reported that the coach provided them with the clarity that they needed, and the final ‘nudge’ required to implement the positive changes they knew they had to make.

“I knew a decision had to be made, but I was having difficulty about putting this all into practice.  The coaching helped a great deal here and gave me that nudge I really needed.”

After their first coaching session the GP decided to step down from the partnership, and after the second coaching session they informed the other partners.  The coaching didn’t just inform that final decision making but helped with the planning about how it could best be implemented.  The coach helped with the confidence needed to make these steps and see how this would benefit other areas of their work they wanted to focus on.

“I feel a lot better now.  I am less stressed, and I have more time to do what I want to do and to look after myself…I will definitely use coaching again in the future if I have any difficult decisions to make.”

The participant had five sessions of coaching and described using the reflective tools both in clinical practice and when mentoring their academic students.  They have recommended the service to others as they believe it could really be beneficial to others who are in the process of making decisions that could have an impact on their wellbeing.