The UK’s social care sector is facing a number of challenges, but none which cannot be overcome. Fresh from his presentation at The Care Show in Birmingham recently, CMO John Coldicutt tells The Planday Blog that while trends show the social care sector is in need of urgent solutions, embracing the cloud and better employee engagement can make your care home an employer of choice. Making simple changes can help you recruit and retain better carers for longer, save you time and money and make your employees happier.
Challenges in the Adult Social Care Sector
“Countless column inches have been dedicated to analysing and commenting on the challenging state of UK social care,” Planday CMO John Coldicutt says.
“These challenges aren’t unique or new – and the trend is something we understand the social care sector already knows enough about because they live it every day. Rather than add to the commentary, Planday is interested in helping care homes get ahead of the competition and meet these challenges with confidence.”
John says getting ahead of the competition and also inspiring others to join the sector starts with embracing technology.
“The UK’s social care sector is lagging well behind countries like the US and Canada with digital uptake and it’s clear carers and nursing staff want digital solutions to help improve patient care,” John says.
“But the number of care homes which still use pen and paper for ordinary tasks is holding the social care sector back from better staff engagement and using faster data to make smarter decisions.
“We have seen that Planday customers which embrace the use of technology not only give their staff the modern toolbox they need to improve patient care, it enables greater flexibility and communication among the staff themselves — something carers have been crying out for.
“This is an enormous step forward in improving employee engagement and making your staff happier, which is what Planday can help you achieve.”
John says Planday’s four simple steps can also save care homes time and money.
How Can Technology Save Care Homes Time and Money?
There are a number of ways that care homes can use technology to both save time and money, and also improve their care. One piece of technology that can make a huge difference is scheduling software.
1. Use scheduling software to improve efficiency
With scheduling software like Planday’s, you reduce to one hour a task which previously took 15 to 20 by automating tasks you once did by hand.
Having previously used a manual spreadsheet and paper for staff rotas, Oaklands Rest Home decided to implement a cloud-based solution for scheduling with Planday.
Regional Manager of the Oaklands Rest Retirement Home in Hampshire, Nicola Ray, says the software enables each employee to register their skills and seniority specified in their profile, as well as with their availability and holiday requests.
“Before Planday, it would take us 15 to 20 hours a month to do the scheduling and payroll,” she says. “Now it takes us 1 hour maximum.”
2. Give staff the flexibility they want
With a growing reliance on agency staff, care homes are largely staffed by temporary workers. This creates a host of problems, including lack of stability in the industry and disruption in care, John says.
“Often, carers choose to work through agencies because it gives them more flexibility in their schedules. The solution to this problem is simple — give your staff flexibility in shifts and scheduling. Planday’s software makes this possible,” John tells The Planday Blog.
Just ask Adrian Hendry — Director of Avondale Care — who streamlined scheduling for his 350 employees across five locations with Planday.
“Everybody can request shifts and swap them,” he says.
“It’s night and day compared to the last system where nothing was digitised.”
3. Improve communication between employees and their managers
Better communication breeds better trust. And better trust creates better care. John says studies of trust in care homes found greater communication within teams helps create a culture of trust within the home.
“Better communication and trust in a team fosters shared responsibility for decision-making and helps resolve problems among the nursing team, rather than always through management,” John says.
“That’s why improving communication among your team is a vital step in getting them to stay working at your care home for longer, and it’s why better communication between staff and management is a key feature of the Planday platform.”
Adrian Hendry says communication with his team has become simpler thanks to Planday.
“One of the best benefits has been the ability to communicate with the staff, either in groups or individuals,” Adrian says.
Our software makes it easy to chat and communicate between staff and managers. Chat can be in groups or individually. You can read more about simpler communication with Planday here.
4. Engage employees to boost job satisfaction
John says better employee engagement in social care has always been an important factor in improving patient care. But in an unpredictable and ever-changing labour market, complicated by factors like underfunding and Brexit, employee engagement is just as vital for recruiting and retaining care home staff.
“A landmark NHS review found that better employee engagement motivated carers to have greater input to their patients’ care and made them improved the patient experience,” John says.
“It also said that where staff are strongly committed to their work and involved in decision-making, there are lower rates of sickness, absence and staff turnover. Critically, such employee engagement also reduced patient mortality rates in the NHS sites where the study was undertaken.
“That’s why Planday empowers care home operators to give their carers better control over their availability, to enable better communication with you as a manager and among themselves with the digital solutions carers want to help solve these issues in a modern way.”
Adrian Hendry says his employees like the simplicity of Planday.
“Everyone likes the simplicity of Planday. There are also benefits from a managerial level. The management team has more transparency, because everything can be done quicker from a desktop, so it saves them time.”
Embracing these solutions — from using faster data to make smarter decisions to giving your employees the digital toolbox they want — can help care homes get ahead of the competition and retain good staff for longer.
“Good company cultures and effective communication with staff are a vital part of retaining talented employees and becoming an employer of choice within the care home sector, and also inspiring others to consider the role as a future career” John says.
“Employee turnover is a big problem within social care, but these are simple and easy steps you can take to make your employees happier, improve communication and simplify your scheduling tasks to limit employee turnover.
“There are many challenges in the sector, but none which you cannot meet and overcome. And in doing so, you can help make your employees happier, keep them at work for longer, and spend more time focusing on the things that really matter — caring for people in the UK’s care homes.”