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Health and wellbeing of the adult social care workforce

Health and Wellbeing of the Adult Social Care Workforce at Peverel Court Care

 

With the number of cases of COVID-19 on the rise again across the UK, it seemed a good time to review the health and wellbeing support that has been put in place for the adult social care workforce. We examine both the initiatives that have been launched nationally, and also those that we have additionally put in place for our staff at Peverel Court Care.

The care sector is a vital part of our health and care frontline and this pandemic has shone a light on the skills, commitment and dedication of our care workers.

Helen Whately
Minister of State for Care

 

An Unprecedented Year in Adult Social Care

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, this has been a challenging year for the adult social care sector in the UK. Keeping our residents safe has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds; not least as a result of the media coverage it has had. However, equally as important has been ensuring the mental and physical wellbeing of the dedicated people whose hard work has ensured continuity of care for our residents.

While the general population have faced the worry, uncertainty and disruption that the pandemic has brought, for our staff we know that this has been doubly difficult. Not only have they had to worry about bringing illness home to the families and loved ones, but they have also had the added concern of taking something back to work with them.

When you add in the fact that many of our staff have been asked to help maintain levels of services while colleagues have been self-isolating; increasing their own workloads and levels of stress, it’s been incredibly reassuring to see the dedication of our team.

 

Supporting the Adult Social Care Workforce

Nationally, there have been plenty of initiatives launched to help support care workers. An early one was supermarkets including care workers amongst the group of front-line workers to whom priority shopping times were made available. However, at government level, one of the key additions made to support the care workforce was the launch of the Care Workforce app, developed with NHSX and the NHS Business Services Authority, under the new CARE brand.

Launched in May 2020, the app, which is available for download on iOS and Android, as well as being accessible from any web browser, acts as a single digital hub for social care workers to access relevant updates, guidance, support and discounts from their phone. The tool will be the first of its kind provided for the care workforce, and will:

  • act as a single one-stop-shop providing the sector with all the latest guidance, wellbeing support and advice they need to protect themselves from COVID-19 and keep themselves well
  • provide access to learning resources on crucial areas such as infection control as well as practical advice and support for mental wellbeing
  • show how care workers can take advantage of offers available to NHS and social care staff, including free car parking and discounts through organisations and initiatives like Discounts for Carers and the Blue Light Card
  • signpost free access to apps like Silvercloud, Daylight and Sleepio, which can help boost users’ mental wellbeing through programmes covering sleep, stress and resilience

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:

Our incredible social care workforce are on the frontline day and night providing quality care to the most vulnerable in our society during the most unprecedented time in our history. The whole country is incredibly grateful of the work they continue to do for our loved ones.

As part of our continued work to back the care sector, we have launched a new app specifically for care workers to make sure they have the most up-to-date guidance to keep them safe, connected with their colleagues across the country, which also allows them to access discounts like their NHS counterparts.

It’s available to download right now, and I would urge everyone in social care to do so.

 

Managing Mental Health and Wellbeing

In addition to the app, there have been a plethora of support initiatives and guidance released this year to help support the adult social care workforce. A simple, but important set of precisely this type of advice is:

There are some simple things you can do to look after your mental health and wellbeing at the current time. Looking after your mind and body will help you both at work and home.

  • Remember that it is OK to struggle at the present time. Everyone reacts differently and you may feel different emotions at different stages of the pandemic. However, it may cause you to feel worried, stressed, sad, scared or helpless – these are understandable feelings.
  • Take time to look after your physical wellbeing – this will have a big impact on how you feel emotionally. Taking breaks at work, maintaining a routine, eating well and exercising can help.
  • Think about what has helped you cope in the past to cope with stressful situations. Focus on what is in your control, try to pace yourself and remember that this will not last forever.
  • Extend the self-compassion and care you have for others for yourself.
  • Look after your emotional health. After difficult or stressful experiences at work it is normal for memories or images of what has happened to come into your mind. Try to let these memories come and go rather than blocking them or trying not to think about them. Try not to stay focused on difficult thoughts and feelings.

Dr Katrina Lake
NHS England & NHS Improvement Adult Mental Health (South East) Clinical Lead

Other useful examples of guidance documents released this year which are well worth a read, include Health and Wellbeing information for Care Staff and Managing the Wellbeing of Social Care Staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 

Supporting our team at Peverel Court Care

While we have appreciated the efforts that have been made at a national and local level, at Peverel Court Care we wanted to go further to help our employees through this difficult time.

We have also implemented the Employee Assistance Programme, powered by Health Assured, which is a confidential employee benefit designed to help staff deal with any personal and work-related issues that might be affecting them. Whether they are struggling at home or at work, there is a helpline available to them 24/7, 365 days a year, so that they will always have support on hand when they need it over the phone or via live chat.

Peverel Court Care have also partnered with Perkbox Medical to provide employees with 24/7 access to an online GP, as we appreciate how difficult it can sometimes be to schedule appointments around working hours.

The online GP service allows employees to interact with a certified doctor, via app or website from anywhere with internet access. Employees can book an appointment and be seen within minutes, ask for advice, as well as receiving prescriptions and referrals, all at a time of their choosing. Our Directors are among staff to have already taken advantage of this service, and believe they have “witnessed the benefit and efficiency of the process”.

Back in April we also created a bespoke survey platform for the team to provide anonymous feedback and ask questions to the senior leadership team. In order to try to mitigate against any financial hardship suffered as a result of needing to self-isolate, we also invited employees to let us know if they need assistance in dealing with the loss of income as a result of having to isolate for 7 or 14 days. We put in place a scheme covering the months of March and April where we were able to advance up to 100% of the difference between Statutory Sick Pay and an employee’s contractual pay over that period.

We are also introducing Aura for our employees from the 29th October. Even before World Mental Health Day, we had been looking for a new solution which we could provide to our staff to help them better manage the impact on their mental health of both their work and life. Aura is described by it’s founders as:

Join millions who use Aura to manage their emotions and get restful sleep. Whether you’re stressed, anxious or having trouble sleeping, simply tell Aura and find strength & rest.

Mindfulness meditations, stories, life coaching, and so much more. With thousands of empowering & resonating audio tracks, Aura has just what you need every day, and constantly learns what works for you.

 

About Peverel Court Care

Peverel Court Care is a group of one residential and two nursing homes, located in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire: Bartlett’s Residential Care Home and Stone House Nursing Home in Aylesbury, and Merryfield House Nursing Home in Witney. We are a long-standing family business, providing personalised care, delivered by talented and compassionate people, in exclusive and idyllic settings.

With happiness at the heart of our homes, we recognise and respect the contribution made by our residents to society during their lifetimes. Valued by residents and their families; our reputation, investment in each property, and approach to appointing and developing our staff makes each home unique and the benchmark in premium care.

Bartletts, Best Care Practices, Business, Care & Technology, Care Management, Health and Safety, Infection Control, Leadership & Management, Merryfield, Real life, Safeguarding, Social Care & Society, Social Care Strategy, Stone House, Wellbeing

Supporting employees through COVID-19

Supporting employees through COVID-19 at Peverel Court Care 1200x800

 

The past few months have been an extremely challenging time for people across the UK. However, this has been especially the case for key workers, such as our dedicated employees, who have continued to deliver first-class care for our residents.

 
At Peverel Court Care, we always pride ourselves on being proactive. When the Government initially advised that care homes would likely be the least affected in the community, we took a more strategic approach and put an ‘Action Plan’ in place. This was prior to any ‘official’ guidance being put into circulation. Naturally, we took advice from Public Health England where necessary.

Our ‘Action Plan’ is a live, working document, and is in effect a contingency plan which sets out what our objectives and guidelines are to enhance appropriateness of practice; improve quality of care; strive for better resident outcomes; improve infection prevention control measures; and enhance business continuity measures, with particular importance on maintaining staffing at optimum levels.

 

Protecting our staff

We know that balancing the health and safety of residents and families is a really difficult one for our employees. In anticipation of requiring PPE at the very outset of a possible national outbreak, Peverel Court Care embarked on a procurement programme very early on, ensuring adequate supplies of all required PPE throughout. At no point did Peverel Court Care run out of supplies, nor were we required at any point to ration supplies. Spending a significant sum on commercially available stock ensured we were adequately provided for.

Peverel Court Care have embarked on a procurement programme to make sure we are adequately stocked on an ongoing basis for any future national outbreak and any further changes to Public Health England guidance around the use of PPE.

At Peverel Court Care, we encourage a supportive culture; where people are free to speak out about perceived risks and adverse outcomes, without fear of blame or repercussions. A safe culture provides a compassionate, inclusive, and trusting environment: one that shares insights and empowers staff with the skills, confidence, and mechanisms to improve the care we provide. This culture means we will hear more, learn more, and act more to improve care.

We created a bespoke platform for the team to provide anonymous feedback and ask questions to the senior leadership team. The bespoke survey supplemented our regular Insights surveys – a pulse survey tool for gathering and acting on feedback in a way that improves company culture and performance.

 

Supporting our team

At the onset of the pandemic we recognised that our team needed access to essential goods and services. Amidst the confusion at supermarkets and schools we wanted to ensure our employees had access to these vital services. All employees were supplied with professional staff ID cards and a supporting letter, allowing them to access opening times and services reserved for key workers.

Communication at this time has been vitally important. We launched a series of newsletters for both staff and relatives. Staff newsletters focused on wellbeing and assistance, with a host of resources being made available to them, such as supermarket opening times for key workers, which the team could easily access via our website. We firmly believe that communication across the entire team increases employee satisfaction, wellbeing, and motivation. We utilise the communication hub on our dedicated employee app to provide video updates from the CEO, Anil Dhanani.

We invited employees to let us know if they need assistance in dealing with the loss of income as a result of having to isolate for 7 or 14 days. We put in place a scheme covering the months of March and April where we were able to advance up to 100% of the difference between Statutory Sick Pay and an employee’s contractual pay over that period.

 

Employee Assistance Programme

The Employee Support Hub, powered by Health Assured, gives employees access to qualified therapists over the phone or via live chat.

The Employee Assistance Programme is a confidential employee benefit designed to help staff deal with any personal and work-related issues that might be affecting them. Whether they are struggling at home or at work, our helpline is available 24/7, 365 days a year so they will always have the support they need.

Peverel Court Care have also partnered with Perkbox Medical to provide employees with 24/7 access to an online GP as we appreciate how tricky it can be to schedule appointments around working hours.

The online GP service allows employees to interact with a certified doctor, via app or website from anywhere with internet, or Wi-Fi access. Employees can book an appointment and be seen within minutes, ask for advice, as well as receiving prescriptions and referrals, all at a time of their choosing.

 

Employee Reward Programme

We acknowledge that this time may be particularly stressful for some of our employees, with the resulting difficulties being presented by COVID-19. The admirable efforts that are being demonstrated by staff in ensuring the homes remain fully resourced – when our workforce is being particularly stretched – was worthy of recognition.

In light of this, we put together an employee fund of £100,000 to recognise the burden of responsibility being shouldered by our employees at work. Regardless of position, seniority or length of service, employees on the premises helping to care for our residents over this period, will be rewarded for their selfless efforts.

Total hours worked will be recorded over the period until the end of June and proportionate funds allocated. All employees will receive an equal monetary value per hour worked, regardless of post or position.

 

Employee Initiatives

We recognised the challenge our team faced, particularly at the outset of the pandemic, in purchasing some essential items. Each staff room therefore now receives regular “essential” and “movie night” gift boxes, in addition to regular fruit deliveries. Employees can access essential food items and toiletries for themselves and their family. Employees can also set up a personal account with our provisions supplier, Creed. Food provisions can be delivered directly to the care homes on our main order as supermarket delivery slots were difficult to come by.

We recognise that outstanding teams start with reward and recognition. We use our dedicated employee app to thank them for their outstanding efforts during this challenging time and reward with personalised vouchers. We celebrate and inspire our team with a company-wide recognition feed that celebrates incredible work.

To say thank you for their hard work, we also created a competition, giving employees the chance to win a selection of prizes every week as part of our “Thursday Thank-Yous”.

 

About Peverel Court Care

Peverel Court Care is a group of one residential and two nursing homes, located in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire: Bartlett’s Residential Care Home and Stone House Nursing Home in Aylesbury, and Merryfield House Nursing Home in Witney. We are a long-standing family business, providing personalised care, delivered by talented and compassionate people, in exclusive and idyllic settings.

With happiness at the heart of our homes, we recognise and respect the contribution made by our residents to society during their lifetimes. Valued by residents and their families; our reputation, investment in each property, and approach to appointing and developing our staff makes each home unique and the benchmark in premium care.

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