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Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of staff new to caring roles

People in healthcare series 

The pandemic has highlighted the critical role our care workers play in society. Almost a third of job seekers are now considering a career in care1, and the number of adult social care jobs is expected to increase by 32% by 2035 to meet the needs of the UK’s growing demographic of adults living to the age of 85 and over2. This has prompted the Department of Health & Social Care’s (DHSC) campaign, “Care for Others. Make a Difference3"

In addition to this, as the number of jobs in the arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food service sectors continues to decline4, vacancies in care roles may offer attractive employment opportunities – and for some, a new career path.

However, Covid-19 is putting unprecedented pressure on those working in adult social care5. Even before the pandemic, staffing was the biggest single challenge for the sector in England. With staff turnover between April 2019 and March 2020 at 30% — about 430,000 leavers over the year6, retaining staff continues to present challenges to employers.

Staff who are new to a caring role may find aspects of their job physically and emotionally challenging, not to mention the pressures added by the pandemic while at the same time dealing with their own personal situations and emotions. Supporting staff wellbeing in the workplace should be a priority.

Protect staff and listen to their concerns

Ongoing risks of Covid-19 infection combined with the financial and wellbeing impact of self-isolation and dealing with the death of patients can have a severe impact on a care worker’s emotional wellbeing. The government has announced staff working in care homes will have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 unless they are medically exempt. Keep staff safe, and make sure they feel safe at work by ensuring appropriate measures are in place7.

The Local Government Association and NHS England and Improvement have produced two useful guides. Managing the wellbeing of social care staff during the COVID-19 pandemic8 is designed to help employers and managers think about the wellbeing of their team and fulfil their duty of care for their employees. Health & Wellbeing Information for Care Staff9 aims to provide some advice, tips, and tools to manage staff stress and wellbeing.

  • Monitor staff wellbeing by encouraging the completion of regular wellbeing surveys.
  • Listen to the views and issues staff are facing and offer support, or signpost them to relevant organisations if necessary.
  • Adopt an open-door culture where staff feel comfortable speaking to their managers about issues they face concerning their wellbeing.

Reward and retain

In any sector, it’s important employees feel valued by their employers. Quality, person-centred care is based on good relationships and joint decision-making between the carer and the individual; this approach can be replicated between you and your employees. Involve them in setting out their training and development plan, recognise their achievements, and reward good performance. Building a culture where staff feel valued will also encourage trust and respect.

Rewards don’t have to be financial. Ask your employees how they would like to be recognised; what motivates them? Consider setting up a staff reward scheme to involve all staff in nominating colleagues.

Training and development

Offering adequate training as part of an induction package will help to prepare staff new to caring roles for the challenges they may face on a day-to-day basis. According to a report by Skills for Care10, care workers who received regular training and those with qualifications were less likely to leave their roles than those who didn’t. So, as well as attending basic induction training, encourage staff to develop skills more applicable to their specific roles. This can boost confidence levels and have a positive impact on your staff retention rates.

Mentor staff

As well as completing your company induction and The Care Certificate11, staff may also benefit from on-the-job support and mentoring. If your induction programme doesn’t already include mentoring, consider adding a new-starter buddy system. The benefits can be two-fold: motivational for new workers and empowering for the existing staff involved.

Recruit people based on your values

As well as recruiting staff with the right skills and qualifications, consider adopting a values-based approach to your recruitment. Attract and recruit students, trainees, and employees who share values and behaviours aligned with your business. Read more about igniting your recruitment.

For more information and advice on supporting care workers, read our Supporting minds on the frontline.

Care providers should look to promote a good work-life balance, support staff wellbeing, offer clear career progression paths and opportunities to develop new skills. By adopting these approaches, your business will be in a strong position to maintain a healthy, motivated workforce.

 

Sources:

1. https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/labour-market-outlook-spring-2021_tcm18-95263.pdf
2. https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/adult-social-care-workforce-data/Workforce intelligence/publications/national-information/The-size-and-structure-of-the-adult-social-care-sector-and-workforce-in-England.aspx
3. https://campaignresources.phe.gov.uk/resources/campaigns/106-care-for-others/overview
4. https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-8898/CBP-8898.pdf
5. https://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/files/86594147/Recruitment_and_retention_report.pdf
6. https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/adult-social-care-workforce-data/Workforce-intelligence/publications/national-information/The-size-and-structure-of-the-adult-social-care-sector-and-workforce-in-England.aspx#:~:text=The number of people wo
7. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/overview-of-adult-social-care-guidance-on-coronavirus-covid-19
8. https://local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/workforce - wellbeing employers guide for social care staff - May 2020.pdf
9. https://local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/workforce - wellbeing social care - Health Wellbeing Information for Social Care Staff.pdf
10. https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/adult-social-care-workforce-data/Workforce-intelligence/documents/State-of-the-adult-social-care-sector/The-state-of-the-adult-social-care-sector-and-workforce-2020.pdf
11. https://www.hee.nhs.uk/our-work/care-certificate

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