Donna Briggs is Managing Director of the award-winning Springhill Care Group which operates three high-quality, purpose-built nursing homes in Lancashire and Bristol. Donna has been working in the care sector for 21 years.
I joined Springhill in 1996, after completing a degree in business whilst working full-time and raising a family. I wanted an opportunity to be part of developing a new service, and at the time had no experience of supporting people who required care.
In my early days I felt overwhelmed by the huge responsibility that came with managing a service provided to those considered to be some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
I felt and continue to feel a deep responsibility to the people in our care, their loved ones and also to the staff team who are providing the much needed and valued care service. When I joined Springhill, it was clear that Springhill cared deeply for its employees who were, and continue to be, looked upon as family.
In our sector ‘outstanding’ is often recognised by the outcome rating awarded by CQC following an inspection. Whilst this is of course important, I would like to focus, for the purposes of this article, on the people who work in the care sector and how we can support them to be outstanding.
I recently learned, from a CQC ‘outstanding’ recognised provider, that in order to achieve outstanding you need to ‘create the conditions’ to become so. These conditions apply not only at the micro level but also at macro level.
At macro level, valuing the great work that is undertaken by the care sector workforce each day, is crucial. There continues to be what feels like constant negative media coverage in relation to the care sector.
As care providers and partners, no matter how big or small, we have a responsibility to try and change the negative perception of social care and the valued work carried out each day by its workforce.
In order for the care sector to meet the challenges of an increasingly ageing population combined with increasing need and a diminishing workforce, we need to attract more great people to work in our sector. This can be achieved through creating a positive perception of a rewarding, vibrant, challenging role offering career progression and personal development opportunities.
According to Skills for Care there are around 90,000 vacancies for social care jobs in England on any one day, with a projected shortfall of around 825,000 care workers by 2025.
At Springhill our priority is investing in our most valued asset – our staff team. People can join Springhill and enjoy real career development opportunities including the assistant practitioner programme and leadership development opportunities. We also encourage and support staff to undertake training through the qualification credit framework and we continue to invest heavily in the health and wellbeing of our workforce.
We are also excited about the nurse apprenticeships and are working closely with local universities to explore how we can offer these opportunities across our workforce.
Our work in this area has recently been independently recognised when in November 2017 Springhill was in the top ten global companies in the prestigious Investors in People ‘Gold’ employer award category.
It is only with the continued investment in our workforce, that we will see more outstanding health and social care services emerging to meet the increasingly ageing population’s complex needs.
In January 2016, we launched our #caringheroes campaign, the purpose of which is to raise awareness of the great work our staff do each day, not just at Springhill but across the wider care sector.
Since the launch of the campaign, we have recognised close to 100 people as caring heroes. The campaign is now supported by MPs and is gaining sector-wide support. I urge and welcome you to join #caringheroes. As a care sector we should all be proud of the valued, fantastic work as a workforce we undertake each day. Let’s shout about it!