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Like other calamities did in the past, the COVID-19 pandemic poses now a threat not only to the physical integrity, but also to the mental integrity of human beings, confronting them with their fragility in an abrupt way, by dismantling their basic beliefs about the controllability of events. In particular, technical-scientific societies struggle to tolerate disasters, due to the feeling of insecurity generated by the questioning of the idea that risks are easily calculated and knowable. In particular, health workers have found themselves "on the front line" to fight against an invisible and unpredictable enemy. This entailed the exposure to two different scenarios, both profoundly threatening: on the one hand, the threat of contaminating yourself and your loved ones experienced in the workplace in contact with COVID patients; on the other hand, the profound loneliness felt upon returning to the home, which echoed the noise of traumatic events that had to be muted since there was no time to think or feel, but only an extreme need to "act".

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Cooperativa Generazioni FA and CESVI, active in the Bergamo area particularly affected by the pandemic, asked RiRes to support their operators at the forefront in the care of the most vulnerable sections of the population: health care, social and family assistants and educators working in the field of elderly and minor protection through residential and home services. The request stemmed from service coordinators who noted extreme fatigue in operators, overwhelmed by the emergency and by all those fears that the Covid-19 carries with it. Moreover, these operators felt the burden of being indispensable for patients and their families. On several occasions these operators requested support from their coordinators, who, in turn, felt unprepared to respond to their "cries for help". In response to this need, a supportive protocol hinged upon the resilience paradigm arose for coordinators and team reference figures. It aimed at promoting in them the assumption of the role of “Tutors of Resilience” towards their staff members.


To this end, the project extensively relied upon the “R2 for Leaders” program, an evidence‐informed resilience promoting curriculum for organization, business and educational institutions, built on promising practices that have been shown to enhance wellbeing among individuals experiencing stress and adversity. It integrates the principles of a social ecological approach to resilience developed by Dr. Michael Ungar and the Resilience Research Centre (RRC) team at Dalhousie University (Halifax, Canada), and there implemented in collaboration with the Public Services and Safety Association (PSHSA). RiRes readjusted the protocol in order to make it fit to the Italian context of health emergency, implementing it during the first and second pandemic waves in support of health workers. The protocol envisaged two preliminary needs analysis meetings and 10 training sessions conducted remotely by two RiRes trainers, with groups of 10 team coordinators.


In addition, RiRes conducted a second capacity building program in the post-emergency phase, aimed at promoting reflection and re-elaboration of adverse events. This re-signification process was finalized at re-build personal and social paths. Therefore, a capacity building program based on the “Tutors of Resilience” model will soon be proposed to multidisciplinary teams, made up of mayors, general practitioners, administrators and educators. Acknowledging that they represent key actors in the process of repairing the serious damage to the social fabric resulting from the pandemic, this capacity building will empower them in supporting communities to rebuild themselves. This role of Tutors of Resilience will help them assisting communities that are re-establishing intrapsychic and social ties, while also restructuring their past and present time in order to make the future brighter.

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The COVID-19 emergency has exacerbated health workers’ difficulties and vulnerabilities, exposing them directly to traumatic events over which they struggled to exercise active control, notably at the very beginning. On several occasions, health workers, social and family assistants and educators working in the field of elderly and minor protection in residential and home services have requested the support of their coordinators. They, however, felt unprepared to respond to their "cries for help". 

Working on resilience has meant drawing on existing resources and promoting their awareness and empowerment. Faced with the emergency situation and rather than tackling vulnerabilities, the attempt was fourfold: increasing the sense of self-efficacy, strengthening supportive relationships, favoring functional processes of signification and reshaping the very meaning of traumatic events, keeping in mind that, to use Seneca's words, “for the individual and for the collectivity nothing is stable”.

Results show that participation in R2 was associated with a reduction in perceived stress levels and burnout symptoms. Likewise, health workers who took part in the capacity building reported a significant increase in socio-ecological resilience resources both at the individual and group level

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