Are providers assisting managers in dealing with the added stresses that have arisen during the pandemic?
The role of a registered manager in any care service is inherently stressful. Due to the nature of supporting the most vulnerable people in our society at some of the most sensitive moments in their lives. Combine this with heavy workloads and, at times, a shortage of staff the stress can really get out of control.
One of the most common sentiments I hear from registered managers when I talk with them about their role is that it is incredibly lonely. You have to separate yourself from the staff team in case of performance or disciplinary issues; while still engaging and mentoring them. You also have to separate your self from the provider or senior leadership team; as you need to be the buffer for your staff team. So, very often it is difficult to have anyone in the organisation who you can talk to.
In the last 12 months this has got significantly worse. As the pandemic took hold with many stories of managers and their teams moving into the care homes for extended periods of time. Along with being separated from their families from fear of spreading the virus and significant numbers of care staff having to self-isolate. And the homes being run on a skeleton team and all the time supporting their residents through the fear and anxiety of being separated from their loved ones too.
It is not surprising therefore that many managers and their staff teams have suffered from stress, anxiety and mental health issues. So, what have providers being doing to assist their staff? Unfortunately, in some cases, not enough, or even nothing at all. But I want to focus on those who have assisted and what they have done and how it has helped.
The most helpful initiative that providers have done has been in setting up forums where staff can communicate very freely. About what they feel and why, which has helped individuals to understand the types of stresses and anxieties they are feeling. And also understanding that they are not alone.
Staff wellbeing, and what Providers can do
Providers have asked their staff what can help them with health and wellbeing. This is a list of some of the things that have been requested and implemented.
- Virtual fitness programmes and exercise classes.
- More fresh fruit available in the staff rooms.
- A review of shift patterns to allow for better quality (not more) time off.
- Dedicated employee care services and wellbeing support, there are now many 3rd party companies who provide this service (just google it).
- Learning and development support to encourage individual personal development.
- Increased social media activity to showcase all the fantastic work done by all the staff, recognition is very important.
Many of these things seem quite small but they make a huge difference. They show that the team are being listened too and recognised for the incredible work that is being done. There are many providers who have taken a very active role in the well being of their staff. But there are still many who need to catch up.
There is lots of talk about the hourly rates and salaries of care staff and that is a completely different subject. But creating a working environment which helps people to manage the high stress loads and get a better work life balance will go a very long way to retaining staff. And ensuring that standards are maintained at a very high level.
Do you work in the care industry, and want to share your experiences and advice for others? We would love to hear from you. Contact Harriet at [email protected]
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