Thames Reach
Monday 20 November 2017
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Issues for teams

Teams that have taken on service user trainees have faced and overcome various issues.

While many placement team issues are, inevitably, mirror images of trainee issues, there are some that can be usefully described separately. 

Issues for placement teams
Issue  Solutions  Months  Case studies 

Determining how much responsibility to give trainee

Ensure good induction

Check if being overcautious – whose anxiety is it?  Placement team or trainee?

1st – 3rd  

Managing dual roles arising from individuals being both a service user and employee

Be clear that employee status is paramount (LINK Code of Conduct and Guidance notes)

Scenario-based team training  (LINK Training Materials)

Provide space for team members to express their anxieties

Be willing to revisit definitions of professionalism

Be willing to change team culture, habits and rituals e.g. not always holding leaving events in the pub

Throughout the traineeships


Managing sickness absence

Differentiate holiday from sickness entitlement at induction

Make provision for returning to work on flexible or p/t basis

Treat trainee as any other employee, not a special case, in terms of policy but be willing to involve advocates and support people in return to work plan




Managing a placement breakdown

Be clear about the expectations of trainees from the start

Placement supervisors should discuss openly with trainees the fact that they may unintentionally place undue pressure on themselves to suceed and ways to watch for the signs of burn-out

Reinforce realistic expectations of trainees in supervision

Ensure trainees take annual leave


Managing the team’s disappointment, shock, and suspicion when a trainee/employee leaves a team unexpectedly

Recognise these reactions as normal, given the level of investment team feel they have made. 

Provide time and people to debrief with the team


Managing team’s anxiety around trainees access to confidential information about service users

Offer evidence-based research to allay fears (LINK Volunteering Research; Thames Reach experience)

Provide trainees with training on confidentiality and Code of Conduct at start of induction, i.e. set this as clear priority

Provide training for trainees on use of client database

Challenge stereotyping and prejudice in staff


Dealing with unauthorised absence from work

Treat as any other staff member; inform life coach and ensure their follow-up




Managing team’s concern that trainees will not maintain appropriate distance and boundaries from service users

Set ability to hold this boundary as minimum requirement in selection process.

Review issue in induction, with Code of Conduct

Examine Code of Conduct to see if any revision is needed re acceptance of pre-existing relationships between trainees and service users (LINK Code of Conduct)

Treat as any other member of staff regarding violations of Code of Conduct

Ensure all staff, including trainees, are willing to implement whistle-blowing policy



More work to train and support new staff – yes in some cases of sickness absence, at start of traineeship – different than getting staff who have experience of working in an office environment