Opinion

Plugging the gap

Jake Rollin

Jake Rollin, Director of Commissioned Care at HC-One

HC-One, working closely with Bolton Council, is trialling a new pilot scheme in two of its homes that provides carers with a next step on the career path and life-changing improvements for its Residents.

HC-One’s mission is unashamedly to be the number one care provider in all the communities we serve through providing the kindest care. And we recognise that a key part of achieving that mission is the development of career opportunities for our staff, who are integral to the service we provide.

We were delighted then that Bolton Council, as part of its ‘Care Home Excellence’ programme was able to allocate additional resources to local care homes to fund the innovative new role of Enhanced Care Co-Ordinators (ECC). Thanks to this pilot scheme, two of HC-One’s homes in Bolton – Meadow Bank House and Four Seasons have been able to introduce ECCs in addition to the existing staff group. This has offered a career development opportunity for existing carers and provided extra capacity within the homes to spend more time working on personal centred care plans, better liaison with council and NHS staff, and more time to spend with families and relatives. The cumulative effect has been life-changing for some residents.

The money has helped fund four ECC jobs at the two HC-One homes (three at Four Seasons and one at the smaller Meadow Bank). The role sits above the rank of carer and holders are given the training, and crucially, the time that would otherwise be eaten into by the busy carer job list to focus on the individual needs of residents and step up the care they receive.

For example, ECC Suzanne Halliwell at Meadow Bank worked one-on-one with a resident who suffered a severe stroke and hadn’t walked for seven years. Thanks to physiotherapy sessions Suzanne arranged and helped him practice the exercises from, he has now taken his first steps. Meanwhile, Suzanne has helped another resident who, due to a lung condition, needs to always keep an oxygen tank close and was thus deterred from leaving her room, to regain the confidence and ability to visit the church, local pub and her family. “It’s so rewarding having the time to be able to really help improve people’s lives,” says Suzanne.

These ECCs were promoted from within the ranks of our homes’ existing carers, as four outstanding workers who were looking to take their career further and learn more. (The funding helped recruit carers to replace them in those roles too.) Suzanne has greatly enjoyed the step-up in responsibility; “I don’t want to go back into caring, I was ready to move into this role and it’s been a really interesting learning curve”. She and her fellow HC-One ECCs have also valued being able to build working relationships with external health professionals, such as physiotherapists, and feel proud that these professionals see the ECCs as a crucial point of contact in the homes.

We are hugely impressed by the results of this scheme and the ease with which our ECCs settled into their roles. Having ECCs has made a meaningful difference to the lives of our Bolton residents and given our workforce in those homes a goal to aim for. This has proved to be an exciting development that could help transform social care in this country. But it’s effect could actually be even further reaching than that.

We believe that hospital admissions from our Bolton homes have and will continue decreasing as a result of our ECCs and the work they do. Imagine the positive effect continuing this pilot beyond its two-year time frame and rolling out it out across the country will have then on the well-publicised NHS funding issues? Addressing social care’s funding gap could be the key to solving the NHS’ one.

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