Business, Community, Leadership & Management, Real life, Social Care & Society, Stone House, Training & Development, Wellbeing, Workforce Development

“I like to think I make a difference in the residents’ lives every day”. An interview with Becky Hannigan

Becky Hannigan Carer at Stone House Peverel Court Care

 

It’s been a challenging year for the adult care sector. As we approach the end of 2020, we thought it would be a good time to catch up with one of our team to find out how they’re feeling.

 

For most of our team, choosing a career working in adult social care isn’t based purely on the money they will earn. There are far more holistic benefits for carers; from the sense of satisfaction they gain from helping residents to the feeling of their colleagues being like an extended family.

We spoke to Becky Hannigan, who is 25 and one of the younger carers at Stone House Nursing Care Home near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire. We asked her about her experience of working for Peverel Court Care and the benefits, and challenges, of life as a carer.

 

How long have you been a part of the Peverel Court Care team?

I have worked at Peverel Court Care for 3 years and 9 months now. Stone House has been a bit like an extended family to me, we’re all very close.

 

What were you doing before you joined us at Stone House?

Before working at Peverel Court I volunteered in the foundation years in a Primary School and then went on to catering for nearly 2 years.

 

What made you decide that a career in care was a good option for you?

I’ve always had a great interest in the healthcare sector, especially since my family have been in the healthcare profession for generations. Stone House is very close to my heart too, as my Grandad & Nanny lived there during their time as nurses for St John’s Hospital in Stone.

 

How have you found the reality of working in care, compared to what you were expecting?

It’s more challenging than I first thought. A lot of people come into it thinking it’s going to be an easy job. It’s mentally challenging as well as physically. I didn’t realise the kind of connections you make with the people around you; they become like a second family and it can make the job much more special and rewarding.

 

With the media coverage of COVID this year, did you have any concerns about working in a care home during this period?

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have concerns. It was an uncertain time and everyone was a bit worried, but my biggest concern – and what I think helped me get through it – was focusing on my residents. Not only in keeping them safe, but to keep life as normal as possible for them and to prevent them from feeling lonely or isolated with not having visitors in.

 

Do you as feel safe as is reasonably possible working in Stone House?

I do feel safe working at Stone House. I have a great team by my side and we are very open and honest with each other. Especially during the challenges that this year has thrown our way, we have regular team meetings to discuss new guidelines, to ask any questions or raise any concerns we might have. We also have weekly swab tests, which provides great reassurance and allows me to be able to fulfil my job with confidence. I think it’s important knowing you have a safe space and team around you.

 

Do you think there is any more we could be doing to protect staff and residents?

No, I think Peverel Court does a great job with that already.

 

How well supported do you feel by management and colleagues?

I feel really well supported in my role by my manager and the rest of the team. For example, a resident recently passed away which was quite upsetting for me. My manager asked to see me privately away from everyone to make sure I was okay and if there was anything I needed or he could do to help.

 

We aim to make all of our team feel valued and appreciated; does that come across as we hope?

I do feel valued and appreciated, for example working over the past 6 months has been challenging and uncertain and receiving vouchers as a thanks for our hard work was uplifting and rewarding. It was a nice surprise for us in a difficult time. Also with Perkbox and the perks we receive from that as well as “Employee of the Quarter” where we also receive vouchers helps us to feel valued.

 

Do you have any tips on anything we could do to improve our recruiting and onboarding process?

Have regular private meetings with new staff, just to see how they are getting on and if anyone is struggling as it is a very challenging but rewarding job.

 

In what ways do you feel like you’re able to make a difference to the team and to our residents?

I like to think I make a difference in the residents’ lives every day. I’ve found that in this job it’s the small things that go a long way, such as just sitting and having a cup of tea with a resident and taking the time to chat about their day can improve their mood. Also setting up a small church session with bible readings, prayers and singing along to hymns has made a massive difference for them to still be able to receive their religious and spiritual needs.

 

How do you see your future in the care sector progressing?

Since I started at Peverel Court Care I have experienced a few different roles. For example I have worked as a laundry assistant, domestic assistant, I worked in the kitchen. I now provide care as well as my role as an activity coordinator. During my time here I have also seen more of the clinical side of things; that has peaked my interest and got me thinking I might like to do a course in nursing and progress within the company in that way, as I have seen others do.

 

Would you recommend a career in adult social care, and in particular with Peverel Court Care, to your friends, family or others considering a future in care?

I have previously recommended people to work at Peverel Court Care such as my cousin and my close friend. I will continue to recommend people as I feel it is a very rewarding job and the homes have a family feel to them.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to add about your experiences of working for Peverel Court Care, or in the adult care sector in general?

Peverel Court Care has shaped me as a person and helped my knowledge and confidence grow. I have learned to be more understanding and patient towards cognitive impairment as this is something I had not experienced before working in adult care. In my personal opinion everyone should take the opportunity to work in adult care at some point as it is an amazing learning experience and has taught me some valuable life lessons.

 

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, Business, Care & Technology, Care Management, Future of Care, Health and Safety, Leadership & Management, Merryfield, Real life, Social Care & Society, Stone House, Wellbeing

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 Home Maintenance, Future of Care, Leadership & Management, Merryfield, Stone House, Workforce Intelligence

The importance of feedback

The importance of feedback - Peverel Court Care

 

At Peverel Court Care, we recognise the importance and value of feedback. The three most important pieces of feedback we collate are from our residents, relatives and staff. In this article we explore why the feedback we collect is so important and how it influences the way in which we operate our business.

 

At Peverel Court Care, we have been collecting regular feedback from our residents and their families for some time now; and the data we have gathered has influenced a number of decisions that we have made for the business.

However, one key group from which we haven’t been collecting feedback in a regular, formal way up until now is our staff. With the recent introduction of Perkbox Insights, that has changed, and for the better.

 

Perkbox Insights

Perkbox Insights is an employee feedback tool which collects results anonymously and in real-time. It will allow us to gather timely and honest feedback from the teams at Merryfield, Stone House and Bartlett’s. Unlike normal engagement surveys, the platform aims to make sure employees don’t suffer survey fatigue, through making responding to each survey quick and easy. It works by sending just five questions to employees each time a survey is conducted. The questions are carefully chosen from a pool of 100 that have been generated through scientific research.

In response to each of the questions, employees are asked to provide a score for each on a scale of one to five. They are also encouraged to leave written feedback on a chosen area of the company; giving us both qualitative and quantitative insight into employee satisfaction.

 

The Benefits of Feedback

The Peverel Court Care management team hope that by adding additional insight provided from by employees to that already collected from residents and their relatives, we will have a 360 degree view from which to make data-driven business decisions. Like many businesses, it sometimes longer than we’d like for exceptional efforts by employees, or day-to-day problems, to come to our attention; and it has hoped that the introduction of the Insights programme will give us greater visibility.

So from process improvement to celebrating success, regular feedback from as many of the people at the heart of our business can only help us further improve the way Peverel Court Care is operated and managed.

 

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.

Best Care Practices, Business, Care & Technology, Care Home Recruitment, Community, Leadership & Management, Real life, Tech, Wellbeing

24/7 GP access for our staff

24/7 online GP service for staff at Peverel Court Care

 

With a recent study revealing that NHS patients are now waiting on average nearly 15 days to see a GP for a routine appointment, we examine how we’re helping our staff with their own health needs.

 

Access to GPs has seldom made more headlines than it has of late. A report published on the Pulse – considered the leading publication for GPs in the UK – highlighted that in a recent survey, over 20% of the 900 GPs who responded said that their patients faced an average wait for a routine appointment of over three weeks. More than one in 20 stated it was more than four weeks.

Another story from Pulse earlier this year focused on the fact GP surgeries across the UK have been shutting their doors in record numbers. In 2018, 138 surgeries closed, compared with just 18 in 2013. Much of this is believed to be the result of underfunding, although leading figures in the sector have complained that GPs are overworked and stressed, leading more to exit the profession or reduce their hours.

More recently, a study by the University of Manchester found that GP partners’ income had decreased by around 10% in real terms over the period from 2008 to 2017.  This has come against the backdrop of GP workloads increasing by around 20% over the same period. Taken together, it is believed that this “may have contributed to current recruitment and retention problems”. 

 

The expert view

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, was quoted as saying: 

Our patients should be able to see a GP when they need to – and the fact that this is becoming increasingly difficult is frustrating for GPs and their teams, just as we know it is for patients. People are waiting too long for routine appointments, and the concern is that non-serious conditions might deteriorate, or patients give up trying to see the GP and we miss signs of serious illness early, when it could be dealt with simply and more cost effectively in primary care.

All of this comes in the wake of the 2015 election pledge by the Government to add an additional 5000 GPs by 2020; a pledge which they are struggling to meet. However, this promise was questioned by many, including Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA’s GPs committee, who said at the time:

Delivering 5,000 extra GPs in five years, when training a GP takes 10 years, was a practical impossibility that was never going to be achieved. It was a pledge that also ignored the fact that one third of GPs are planning to retire by 2020, and the current medical graduates do not want to join an overworked, underfunded service, with more than 400 GP trainee posts left unfilled last year.

 

Our solution to the GP access problem

Given the challenges faced by both the GPs and their patients, it’s hardly surprising that juggling a working day with the sparse availability of appointments has never been more difficult for patients; and in particular those who are shift workers – like many of our staff.

That’s why, at Peverel Court Care we have invested in a service which provides 24/7 online access to a GP for our staff. Whilst we appreciate that for certain conditions, a visit to the local surgery may still be required, we hope that the online service we’ve provided can, for many, give them an alternative to the lengthy NHS waiting times.

We recognise the fantastic work that our team do in providing first rate levels of care for our residents. So we believe that it’s only right and proper to do all we can to help them maintain their own health and wellbeing. Therefore, the introduction of the GP service is just one of many recruitment and retention initiatives we have in store to help our staff realise how valued they are by the Peverel Court Care management team. We hope that these small gestures of our appreciation can help make their work-life balance that little bit easier.

 

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.

Best Care Practices, Care Home Recruitment, Future of Care, Leadership & Management, Social Care Strategy, Training & Development, Wellbeing, Workforce Development

Rewards and Recognition

The importance of rewards and recognition in care businesses

At Peverel Court Care, we fully understand and appreciate the critical role which our staff play in the delivery of outstanding care for our residents at our care homes near Aylesbury and in Oxfordshire.

Without our dedicated team, we simply could not deliver the levels of care service excellence which our residents and their families have come to expect of us.

As such, we realise that not only is recruiting the best available people to fulfil these roles important; but that training and retaining great members of staff helps us to deliver high levels of consistent care to our residents over the long-term.

 

Recruitment and retention: a challenge across the care sector

 

Recruitment and retention is not just a challenge we face at Peverel Court Care, but is reflected across the care sector as a whole. Skills for Care reported that for staff: “turnover rate is around 20% for adult social care; compared to 15% nationally across all sectors” while “the vacancy rate is 3-4% for adult social care; compared to 2% nationally across all sectors.” They also commented that:

 

Fundamentally, recruiting the right people into adult social care, and ensuring that they stay in the sector, because they feel valued and supported has a positive impact on not only retention and performance but more importantly, standards of care and support and therefore upon the quality of life of people who need these services.

Workplace wellbeing initiatives are currently in higher demand than ever before; with more organisations realising the responsibility they have for the welfare of their employees. In 2018, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported that 15.4 million working days were lost in the UK due to stress. That same year, mental ill-health was reported to be costing employers more than £42 billion per year. Even at a more granular level, experts like Professor Dame Carol Black suggest workplace wellbeing initiatives can improve productivity “by up to 25%”. These kinds of reports are leading employers to focus heavily on employee wellbeing over the next few years.

Organisations like Thames Water have seen a reduction in illness absence by a massive 76% as a result of its commitment to wellbeing. Similar results published by PwC say the financial benefits of wellness programmes at work include an 18% reduction in staff turnover and a 14% increase in employee satisfaction. Apart from the obvious ROI from fostering a healthier workforce, delivering employee recognition schemes has also been shown to produce higher revenue. Those organisations that invest just 1% of payroll are 79% more likely see better financial results.

 

Peverel Court Care: Our response to recruitment and retention

 

In order to ensure that our staff are being utilised to their optimum, we have recently introduced a new set of career pathways for various roles within the business, including Healthcare Assistants and Registered Nurses, to guarantee that the personal and professional development of our team is constantly on the agenda.

We have also recently delivered a new rewards and recognition programme for staff; designed to identify, celebrate and show our appreciation for the brilliant job that our team do every day.

We do not require much of an excuse to praise our brilliant team. So whether they’re celebrating the completion of a new NVQ qualification, have had a high attendance record, or a landmark “Years of Service” anniversary, we will find a personalised way of saying thanks to them for their hard work. We also have our Employee award, and “Special Praise” rewards, for when the families of residents feedback on someone going “above and beyond” for them.

We have also introduced a central rewards platform for our staff; for smaller, ad hoc benefits, such as reduced price cinema tickets. It also features some great additional benefits, such as the Employee Support Hub phone line, which we have introduced as part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2019, so that our staff can have access to 24/7 in-the-moment support from qualified therapists, to help them work through any emotional, family or legal issues. Just as a regular reminder that we recognise the great job they do for us.

Laura Kane, part of our team at Bartlett’s Residential Care Home, commented on our new rewards platform:

 

I find Perkbox really beneficial! I’ve used it for numerous things already; varying from a free drink at Café Nero to cheaper airport parking when I have booked upcoming holidays. It’s even helped me save money when I’ve bought things online from ASOS (and there’s nothing better than getting the clothes you want at a cheaper price). The app is super easy to use and has everything you could think of. I’m very happy with the platform and it’s a great employee rewards scheme.

We know that our residents and their families truly appreciate the exceptional level of care they receive at Bartlett’s, Stone House and Merryfield, and we want to pass that appreciation on to our team, so that they feel motivated to carry on doing what they’re doing so well.

 

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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