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Back to the Floor: Learning Through Frontline Staff

Sam Dixon, HR Director of Healthcare Homes

 

HR Director Sam Dixon assisting in the kitchen

The senior team of Healthcare Homes Group recently exchanged our suits and ties for care assistant and domestic uniforms to work in frontline facing roles.

This project was all about allowing us to receive first-hand feedback from residents, service users and staff, and to fully immerse ourselves in the day to day running of the care provision that is provided every day, as we believe it is vital to see all sides of the service that we are providing.

Along with group’s CEO Gordon Cochrane, I rolled my sleeves up, spending the day at Shipdham Manor, one of our residential homes in Norfolk.

Gordon spent the day with the maintenance team, and I worked with the laundry and domestic staff.

When I arrived, I can honestly say I felt a mix of excitement and anxiety.  My job as HR director involves a lot of pressure and responsibility, but I knew that the hard work and challenges faced by our teams on the ground is completely different.

I was keen from the start to be a help not a hindrance, and I also wanted to demonstrate just how valuable we saw this opportunity.  It’s easy for staff to think that senior visits can be something of a ‘tick box’ exercise.  That couldn’t be further from the truth; we were all so keen to immerse ourselves in the working of the homes and homecare branches we were visiting, to understand, to learn, and to build ideas for improvement.

Throughout the day I worked in the laundry – a busy hub of the home, where I helped deliver laundered clothes back to residents, did some ironing and sewed on some buttons.

I then cleaned carpets and some residents’ rooms, before moving on to the kitchen to help serve fish and chips for Friday lunch and refreshments in the lounge in the afternoon.

CEO Gordon Cochrane (r) undertaking maintenance tasks

What struck me immediately is that Shipdham Manor runs like a well-oiled machine; there were lots of different parts of the machine, each reliant upon one another. Everyone has an important and vital role to play and it’s clear that everyone makes a difference.

The home provides specialist dementia care, and we regularly receive feedback on the staff and the impact their care has on residents and their families.  Seeing it first hand was wonderful.

The small gestures, attention to detail and bespoke care that I saw was quite humbling. In the laundry room, I saw a staff member take some special festive wool to a resident who likes knitting and making pom poms.  She had brought it in for her as she knew she would like it.

In the lounge, the staff knew such detail about the residents they were chatting with, finding ways to strike a conversation, or cause a smile.

So what will we take from this?  We each had a different experience in terms of the jobs we were undertaking, but we shared the same opinion.  We are nothing without the passion of our staff, which runs through the heart of our care provision and has huge impacts on those we support.

We talk about ‘person centred care’ as our foundation; being in the homes, seeing the difference the small acts of kindness make to the people we support, really brought this alive.

For me personally, it has reignited my passion for care excellence.  For the group, it has cemented our desire to ensure person-centred care remains at the forefront and to drive forward improvements across our business that lead to even better outcomes for those we support.

I would highly recommend this to any senior team within the care sector. Get out there, let your teams show you just how brilliant they are and allow yourself the chance to understand every part of the work you lead

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