Debbie Smith, Director of Care at Wellgate Care, a group specialising in supporting adults with learning difficulties and disabilities in the South East, explores the importance of investment in your staff when running a successful care home.
The care sector is changing rapidly. A recent study by Skills for Care projected that by 2035, the UK will need an additional 950,000 jobs to support the adult social care sector, a 59% increase from 2018.i To put this into perspective, the number of jobs in care home services increased by just 4% between 2012-2017. With an ageing population and 110,000 vacancies in adult social care, the need for these jobs is greater than ever.
In addition, staff turnover rates stood at 30.7%, meaning there were approximately 390,000 leavers in 2017. Employers in the care sector need to nurture their staff which in turn will provide support for the homes, teams and most importantly, the residents.
Attracting high quality staff is one of the biggest issues facing the care sector. Having sufficient levels of the right people with the right skills is fundamental to providing care and support. But it’s not just about getting people in it’s about keeping them.
According to a Skills for Care Report for Recruitment and Retention, when asked what the most important considerations are for recruitment in the sector, 73% of care home employersii considered qualifications to be the least important factor. Perhaps not surprisingly 86% stated values and behaviour to be the most important aspect of recruitment. The results indicate that employers need to provide a clear recruitment process which takes these aspects into consideration. This could be in the form of offering work experience, pre-interview assessments, pre-employment training and introducing apprentice schemes.
To reduce the high staff turnover rates in the sector, care homes also need a greater focus on training and development, which ultimately increases savings and efficiency whilst maintaining consistency for residents and staff alike. Development programmes are seen as a fantastic benefit – one that competitors might not offer. Everyone within this industry should be given the opportunity to develop their career and take part in training which will help them carry out their role effectively, as it ensures residents receive the best quality care, whilst also encouraging staff to develop their careers, progress internally and stay abreast of industry developments.
It is important that homes have an agreed set of standards setting out the knowledge, training and expected behaviours of roles within the social care sector. Having these in place will provide a benchmark for staff to provide and maintain quality care. If care homes provide this type of training and support, it’s a system-wide incentive with enormous benefits, including a higher standard in quality of care and resident outcomes. The most important benefit of providing any form of training is the retention of staff. Care homes must provide a detailed and varied training programme to make staff feel valued and supported within their role, which ultimately leads to increased retention.
At Wellgate Care we recognise there are issues within the care sector which need addressing, but as an industry there needs to be as much support as possible for staff to provide the highest quality of care.
Retention and support for long-term staff at care homes is important, particularly as industry turnover rates continue to rise. Continuity is important for residents and it maintains the quality of care within the homes. By investing in the right training and development for team members throughout their career, retention becomes a lot easier to maintain and build upon. Therefore, it is important to provide a training programme which enables staff to develop in their chosen areas. This support comes in the form of investment in training for current staff and the recruitment process for future staff and should also be part of the overall culture of the homes.
While the adult social care sector continues to go through a period of change, it remains a dynamic industry with significant opportunity for career progression. If investment is used within the right areas of the sector – in this case within recruitment, training and retention – the challenges which are currently predicted won’t have as great an impact.
Career development is an area which needs to be utilised and used to provide the best care possible. With such a variety of services on offer, care homes need to focus not only on the level of qualifications when hiring but attracting the right individuals with the best values and retaining them. After all, investment in your staff is the most important part of ensuring your residents receive the highest quality care and support.