In any industry, staff need to feel competent and confident in what they are doing. Without this, dissatisfaction creeps in, and this is when staff either leave or do a poor job. For me, we have a responsibility to every staff member we recruit to ensure they can bring their best self to work, and that they can make the biggest positive impact on all those they interact with every day. It is only if we do this, that we can be sure that the care we provide at Askham is really and truly excellent care.
Training is a huge part of this. In an ever-changing landscape, we offer respite, residential and nursing care to people young and old with complex and often unique needs. We are also one of the biggest employers in our area – competing with the likes of major supermarket chains and retailers locally for good staff. It is crucial that our staff can see their progression potential and feel that we are supporting them in their careers, providing opportunities for development to enable them to provide the right level of care to the individuals they look after – today and tomorrow.
This year in particular, we are supporting a number of senior staff with their personal ambitions of further education. We have four members of staff undertaking a Masters in subjects as varied as Psychology, Advanced Clinical Practice, and Mental Health. We also encourage our staff to be experts in specific areas – for their own sense of self but also to then ensure that specialist knowledge is put to good use for residents. Most recently, we are supporting our Clinical Lead to become a trainer an Aquatic Therapy – this will enable more of our staff to be trained in this form of therapy so more residents can benefit – with no additional cost to the funder or taxpayer.
To ensure we are providing opportunities at all levels in the organisation, not only meeting our own needs but those of the wider industry as well, we recently saw our first-ever class of eight Assistant Practitioners pass their training to enter new roles in supporting our nurses and physiotherapists in delivering extraordinary care to residents.
Assistant Practitioners can deliver high-quality, patient-centred care in a variety of settings including respiratory medicine, occupational therapy, monitoring patients recovering from surgery, providing personal, social, therapeutic and rehabilitative care, supporting adults or young people with mental health issues, and dietetics.
A newly created, national role to address the nationwide shortage of nurses, Assistant Practitioners are able to deliver care, administer medications and write care plans for nursing residents. The hybrid role, a cross between a care worker and nurse, has recently been rolled out across the UK by Care England to provide a solution to the care sector nursing shortfall.
As a care group, we are early adopters of this new role. We recognise the value in supporting care staff to develop their careers in health and social care and progress both personally and professionally.
You can see the difference in the approach these APs take to resident care – taking a holistic view of their needs and engaging professionally with all stakeholders to ensure the best outcomes for those in their care.
In addition to qualifications, staff wellbeing is a cornerstone of our HR strategy. Having been a family business for over 30 years, we would not be in the position we are now in without our team. Staff are an extension of our family and we care as much about their well being as we do our residents. In our experience, through continuously learning and pushing ourselves and each other, we feel a greater sense of pride and purpose in our work, and this translates to better morale, happier staff and ultimately to deliver the best service for our residents.
And it’s not just our staff members we look to. During one of our recent staff training sessions in person-centred care, a resident took part too, which was invaluable for the team and really opened the eyes of the trainees to what it is like to be on the receiving end of the care we provide.
We like to think we are trailblazing by including our residents in staff training delivery, and hearing the perspective of care delivery from an actual resident made the team want to get it right for everyone. We hope others will do this more too – in our view it can only bring a positive outcome.
Moreover, the resident who took part in the training said they felt their voice was heard which made them feel empowered, giving them a sense of value that they said had been missing for some time.
Ultimately, staff and residents alike at Askham look forward to growing future skills together in an environment that supports and provides them the platform to thrive.
Aliyyah is a Director at Askham Village Community, a specialist rehabilitation and care community situated on the edge of Doddington, between Peterborough and Cambridge. A family business of over 30 years, it provides specialist care and rehab for the very young to the elderly, offering day visits, respite or long-term care, goal-focussed rehabilitation, and continuing reablement support.