Anyone within the care sector will be familiar with the amount of work that is put in by workers every day to ensure they are providing the best service to their patients. Therefore, it may not come as a surprise to read that over 600 people quit their job every day to prioritise caring for older and disabled relatives, according to recent report conducted by Carers UK, a charity devoted to offering advice and support to non-professional carers.
However, as people are living longer, the burden of care has fallen on the shoulders of close relatives. The report focused on the fact that when an employer fails to provide their employees with the necessary flexibility to balance both their job and the care of relatives or friends, employees can become exhausted and feel compelled to resign. Care home operators should take note of this news, as they are in a position to understand the responsibility and inevitable pressure that comes with caring for a person’s wellbeing.
Work in the care sector is often carried out in shifts, as this pattern of working provides the flexibility that is necessary for management to look after several sites, often using employees with a variety of different skills and qualifications. Inevitably, there are many challenges in dealing with workforces of this kind. Managing these teams necessitates a balancing act where the employees’ wellbeing is considered alongside that of their patients.
Indeed, other studies have confirmed the weight of the emotional and mental burden that is placed on carers. Another recent survey highlighted care work as the most stressful profession. Respondents cited the tight deadlines, the workload, and the impact of making a mistake as three of the main causes of stress in their profession. In addition to this, 47.4% of people surveyed mentioned that this work-related stress consequently impacts their private life. Both surveys indicate that there is a problem with work/life balance in the industry. For both professional and non-professional carers, the role can impact any and all areas of life. Decision-makers in the industry have a clear responsibility to the people they employ to examine the way they are being treated.
Technology can play a vital role in helping care homes deal with these particular challenges. The arrival of the cloud in industries beyond that of finance and IT has enabled businesses to provide online and mobile platforms which place more control in the hands of the employee. Most recently, in a similar venture Poole council is due to spend £230,000 on providing 158 child social care workers with laptops and tablet devices to increase the speed at which their work can be completed when on the move. Sophisticated technology is now widespread enough to have an effect across all industries; increasing contact with employers, speeding processes to ensure deadlines are more achievable, and helping teams to communicate more easily to avoid mistakes.
In this way, adopting a more sophisticated and modern process in management can lead to lower frustration amongst employees, meaning retaining those employees becomes more likely. Adoption of the right software makes it easier for workers to swap shifts to fit around their personal schedule and according to what skills are needed where. It means problems can be caught before they arise. Mistakes are fewer and both patients and employees benefit from a digitised process and time saved from what was traditionally a very manual and lengthy process.
Flexible working models have hit the headlines recently and a bulk of the businesses that incorporate them report their success. It’s a success that, with the right preparation and implementation, can be replicated within the care sector. All workplaces, regardless of the sector in which they do business, must do what they can to support a flexible work/life balance.