Charu Kashyap, Chief Executive of Esland Care, discusses how providing a holistic package for the children in their care, as well as training and flexibility for staff helps them overcome the sector’s tough challenges.
Undoubtedly the biggest challenge facing providers of specialist care and education for children is the fact by the time they come to us their needs are at a critical level.
Sadly, squeezed funding for local councils means the threshold before they intervene with the most appropriate care for a child is getting higher. It is not uncommon for Esland Care to take on children who have had multiple placement breakdowns in foster care or other care settings. This happens because sometimes, residential care is used as a last resort for a child based on cost factors rather than understanding the type of support the child really needs. Obviously, multiple failed placements are hugely detrimental to children and a huge cost factor to public services in the long term. E.g. mental health, youth offending etc.
So how do we ensure that we can provide a positive outcome for these highly troubled children who come into our care? Well personalised care pathways are at the heart of the answer. We offer a range of high quality, residential care options which means the children can be looked after in either our solo homes (which only has one service user), our dual homes (which support two), our complex needs homes (which support three) or our group homes (which have no more than five service users). We also provide a 28 days ‘Adventure Trip’ package in which we take children in crisis on activity camps. Our Adventure service is a satellite of our children’s home and hence is regulated as part of the registered children’s home. Essentially, we make sure that no matter what their issues are, we can give our children the right amount of support and intervention to help them thrive.
Furthermore, providing a holistic experience is a key part of Esland’s ethos. While some operators may only provide residential care, we believe that providing a wrap-around model of therapy and education is important. We believe in the ‘Team around the Child’ approach where the carers, tutors/teachers and therapists/ psychologists work together with each other to ensure that we collectively think and discuss the needs of every child and provide the right interventions at the right time to help every child achieve the best possible outcomes. This includes bringing tutors into the homes, or helping the children attend school and clinicians either doing direct work with the children and/ or with our residential staff. To build on this approach we are we have just submitted plans to register a SEN school near Grantham and are also creating an outcomes-based framework which will evidence the impact of our work with every child in our care.
To ensure we help as many children as possible, as timely as possible, we work closely with local authority commissioners to understand the biggest area of need that we can help with. We are also careful to collect as much outcome data as possible. It sounds simple, but providing evidence our approach works and working in partnership with commissioners means they are more likely to entrust us with the care of some of their most vulnerable children.
Of course, at the heart of providing good care, is having a fantastic team of care professionals, and we are very proud that our recruitment and retention rates are some of the best in the sector. We recognise that recruitment and retaining staff is the biggest challenge for residential care providers and hence here at Esland, we combat this challenge by providing colleagues with a comprehensive training and a career path at the company.
Staff are provided with a robust induction programme prior to starting work in a home and are regularly supported with their work. We train all our staff to Level 3 (residential childcare) and also offer Level 5 (Leadership & Management) opportunities for staff progressing to senior leadership and management positions within the homes. Additionally, we allow flexible working options, offering part-time and full-time roles, which helps recruiting & retaining staff as they can choose the hours they work and still maintain a healthy work-life balance. We also have a bank of trusted and trained temporary staff we can call on so we very rarely need agency staff to fill gaps.
This focus on staff, and our commitment to holistic and personalised care options helps us ensure that we are able to help change children’s lives for the better.