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Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service

“Delivering upsetting news takes empathy, understanding and practice”

Family Contact Officers within the Fire and Rescue Service have a highly demanding role to undertake, often working in tandem with Police Liaison Officers to deliver upsetting news to the bereaved families of serving firefighters.

The problem

Warwickshire Fire & Rescue wanted to ensure that their new team of Family Contact Officers were as prepared as they could be to support and advise the next of kin of Fire Service personnel following a death in the workplace.
It was essential to ensure they gained the necessary skills to manage emotionally challenging situations; not only making sure conversations are handled with respect, empathy and understanding, but they are also equipped to cope emotionally with the possible reactions they may encounter as part of their role

The solution

Using a variety of scenarios developed by the client, RoleplayUK cast an experienced team of actors to match the character specifications. The actors engaged realplay techniques to respond in the moment to each participant’s approach, realistically portraying how they were made to feel in character. Participants were able to embed their learning of handling difficult conversations, to practise new techniques in a safe and consequence free environment.

The Results

Participants honed their approach to help avoid unnecessary distress or misunderstanding in this vital role. They were also able to experience a range of emotional reactions and in turn to practise their responses, building confidence in starting initial conversations, actively listening and discovering tools and skills to help respond calmly and professionally.

Warwickshire Fire & Rescue were so impressed by the learning of their Family Contact Officers that they recommended our services to Staffordshire and West Midlands Fire and Rescue services who have subsequently engaged actor teams.

“I was impressed with the actors’ ability to flex to the requirement of each improvised conversation, offering the right levels of emotional reaction in each instance.”

Tina Poke– Staff Wellbeing Advisor and Counsellor

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