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07th August 2016

Relationships, Rio and All that Jazz

Relationships, Rio and All that JazzContinuing the sporting theme I started last week, I am going to look at the example set by one of our Rio sports-stars in developing resilience.

Jazz Carlin is a Swansea based swimmer, who has unfinished business to attend to at Rio, 2016. Jazz was a medal prospect back at London, 2012, but was unable to compete due to the effects of glandular fever. Her story is inspirational because it reaches out beyond elite athletics, to a more mundane everyday struggle to overcome disappointment, recurrent illness, and concern about loved ones that is far more universal, and speaks to me of the many hardships often faced by people receiving care.

Illness, Patience and Recovery

The Independent (Wednesday, 29th October 2014) reported Jazz's story and how the Swansea swimmer’s past has taught her to be cautious, the dream to swim at London 2012, denied by poor health.

It started with glandular fever in 2011. Glandular fever (Epstein Barr virus or Infectious Mononeucleosis) is characterised by fever, sore throat and feeling tired. It rarely ceases without leaving some degree of chronic fatigue syndrome. For some athletes this can mark the end of their top level career and requires a combination of rest, good diet, good sleep, patience and gradual reintroduction to training to foster full recovery.

Following glandular fever, she was struck down by recurring tonsillitis every two to three weeks. Although since then she has been fit and healthy and able to put in a consistent block of training to enable her to reach her peak for arguably the first time in a promising career, life has still been trying. Her father suffered a stroke and the latest battle has been that of Coleman’s mother Mags, who was diagnosed with leukaemia and underwent a bone marrow transplant last year.


Overcoming hardship and life's knocks - what Shakesperare referred to as 'the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune' is familiar territory for many individuals receiving social support. But continual knocks can damage confidence and impair problem-solving and decision-making abilities. For this reason it is important that we are aware of the need to promote resilience with those that we work with.

Jazz cites her close relationships with her Mum and Dad and boyfriend, fellow swimmer, Lewis Coleman, as well as her coaches as being important in helping her overcome her difficulties, and relationships are often the most important factor.

Relationships in Care Settings

For those in a care setting, this highlights the importance of the quality of relationship with care staff as these may be the people with whom the service user has most contact. Using these relationships to best effect is key, as they give us a window and access point, into the service user's world.

So therapeutic relationships, positive regard, perseverance and joint-evaluation of care packages, to better account for an individual's circumstances, are some of the attributes of care and support that we can foster to promote resilience. If we can help to provide the right supportive environment, individuals can get on with achieving their goals, whether it’s a podium finish at Rio, or something a little more ordinary.

As Jazz herself says..."It’s never easy but life’s not easy, get on with it and make the most of what you’ve got." For those of us in the care sector, it’s our responsibility to support our service users' in doing just that.



*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Nic Bowler

Welsh Care and Social Services Inspectorate Specialist

Dr Nicholas Bowler is a researcher and consultant to government-level [Welsh Government Review of Secure Services, 2009] – specialising in QA/compliance focused projects. He has interests in clinically relevant training, service development and research. He enjoys working with clients to support them in identifying problems and initiating projects to improve practice.

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