It’s no secret that care homes in the UK face multiple challenges.
Here at Pym’s Consultancy, we see this on a regular basis when helping our clients with their CQC registration and inspections. We also saw the ‘sharp end’ of social care when we ran our Peer Networks during the pandemic and beyond.
So what are the common ‘pain points’ faced by those in the care industry, and what could be done to mitigate these?
Funding and Resource Constraints
Residential Care Providers struggle with limited funding from the public sector, making it difficult to provide high-quality care and support to residents. Adequate funding is crucial to ensure sufficient staffing levels, quality training, and the necessary equipment – ultimately, it’s needed to ensure resident safety.
Residential care is often located out of necessity in older buildings (due to the size of building needed), the upkeep of which is not insignificant. Add to this the fact that many are in rural locations, which adds to the cost of travel to work for staff.
We’d urge the government to channel more funds into social care.
Recruitment and Retention
This is an ever-recurring theme in our Peer Network groups.
Care homes struggle to recruit staff members, including carers and support workers. The rural location of some care homes exacerbates the problem. Staff shortages can lead to increased workloads and burnout, with the potential to compromise quality of care. So what can be done?
- Stay flexible with your recruitment process and act quickly. Don’t give potential employees an opportunity to go cold. Offer initial interviews online and remain open-minded. Consider recruitment based on values rather than experience.
- Use various initiatives to employ from the immediate vicinity where possible – particularly if you’re in a rural location where transport may be an issue. Get creative with your advertising!
We believe that staff retention can play a key role in improving the staffing situation. So how do we retain staff?
Various initiatives can be deployed to improve staff recruitment and retention. It’s not all about the take-home pay.
- We have discussed implementing feedback systems from residents and their families to boost staff morale, buddy schemes, plant a tree initiatives in honour of staff members, and learning and development opportunities.
- It’s also vital to conduct exit interviews. Understand why your staff are leaving and what will encourage employees to stay.
- However, stay interviews can also be valuable. They provide an opportunity to build trust and let your employees’ voices be heard.
- Understand when and where you’re spending money on agency staff and stay engaged with bank workers to maximise your return on investment and reduce your reliance on agencies.
- Invest in technology for you to create and manage your own bank of staff more effectively.
Increasing Demand and Complex Care Needs
The UK has an increasingly ageing population, which has resulted in an increasing demand for social care. Many residents have complex health and care needs, including dementia and other chronic conditions, all requiring specialised care and support.
This again highlights the need to invest in learning and development so that staff can confidently understand the support they need to provide in areas such as dementia care, palliative care and mental health support.
Maintaining consistent quality of care and complying with the regulatory standards set by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) can be challenging, with some failing to meet these standards.
However, regular inspections and enforcement are vital in maintaining and improving standards nationally. Effective monitoring encourages the prioritisation of resident safety and welfare.
We always advise our clients to continually prepare for the CQC by:
✔️ keeping your records up to date
✔️ involving your staff and stakeholders
✔️ anticipating what questions you might be asked and preparing your responses accordingly.
If you’d like to speak with a member of our experienced social care consultants, please feel free to contact us. An initial consultation is always free of charge and without obligation.
We’d be advocates for better coordination and integration between care homes, hospitals, community health providers, ambulance services and social services to improve the overall care experience for residents. This can involve the sharing of information, facilitating smooth transitions between care settings, and providing comprehensive care plans.
We’d also champion investment into technology solutions such as electronic health records, telehealth services and assistive devices to enhance efficiency, communication and the overall quality of social care.
If you’d like a confidential discussion about any aspect of social care that you feel we may be able to help with, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’d be happy to help.