Between 1995 and 1997, groundbreaking research by the Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente looked at the link between ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences such as physical abuse, psychological abuse, mentally ill caregiver, etc) and later-life functioning and well-being.
Felitti (1998) and his team identified 10 categories of Adverse Childhood Experiences. An ACEs scores of 3, means that the individual experienced three of the categories at least once as a child. This research--and continued research--showed that as the number of ACEs increased, so did the risk of future negative outcomes, such as heart disease, alcoholism, depression, poor work performance, as well as increased difficulties with interpersonal relationships (Felitti et al., 1998). Learn more about ACEs research here.
Impact on Your Workforce
Health and Human Service employees tend to have, on average, more ACEs than the general population. In particular, there are significantly more Health and Human Service employees with 4 or more ACEs, over 25%, compared to the approximately 12% in the general population. Further, approximately 70% of Human Service employees have at least 1 ACE (Esaki & Holloway, 2013; Howard et al., 2015).
ACEs impact our capacity to trust. Because of ACEs, a significant percentage of your workforce defaults to a defensive stance in many interactions. Through experiencing a need to protect themselves since childhood, they are quick to interpret common interactions (i.e. feedback from a supervisor) as a threat that they need to protect themselves against.
Trust is at the core of healthy, productive relationships - in any setting. Having the capacity to trust others and the skills to gain trust from others is necessary for people to build and maintain effective working relationships - with supervisors and residents/clients alike.
Impact on Your Residents & Clients
Health and Human Services is a people-focused, relationship-driven industry. Indeed, the relationship that your organization provides between staff and client is at the heart of your business. The quality of that relationship is a key predictor of all outcomes. The same staff who are tasked with developing those relationships are also likely struggling with the primary component necessary for being in relationships with others: trust.
Creating Restorative Cultures
Managers and supervisors hold the power for ensuring that staff can be free to focus on developing relationships with residents and clients. A restorative culture is one that is both supportive and challenging. Staff know that excellence is expected and they know they are valued and their own self-care, growth, and development are just as important.
Indeed, managers can have the most significant impact on residents and clients by attending to creating a restorative culture for staff.
Read below for tips, strategies, and tools for creating restorative cultures...
Esaki, N. & Holloway, H. L. (2013). Prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) among child service providers. Social Welfare Faculty Scholarship, 31-37.
Felitti, V. et al. (1998). Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults: The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) Study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 245-258.
Howard, A., et al (2015). An examination of the relationships between professional quality of life, adverse childhood experiences, resilience, and work environment in a sample of human services providers. Child and Youth Services Review, 141-148.