By Paul Patarou, Divisional Manager, Health & Social Care Division, Access Group
More than 300,000 care workers are reported to have left the health and social care industry due to inflexibility with working times. The recent documentary by Channel 4 Dispatches ‘Britain’s Pensioner Care Scandal’, has also further put the spotlight on a sector that is overstretched and under-resourced. The result: a lot of expertise and dedicated carers are being lost.
There’s no denying that the issues run deep within the sector and that carers are often not a focus within the day-to-day operations. However allowing carers to have more involvement, with the support of technology, will help contribute to the continued and sustained success of the organisation.
Access to information
Being able to provide carers with access to information – that updates in real time – is vital so they can stay current with any changes. This means being able to access rotas and update their personal information from their mobile phone or tablet.
This information can then feed back into the management planning for more accurate rotas that won’t be subject to as much change and therefore, reduces administration. It also enables managers to highlight any gaps in personal skills and encourages recognition of any expertise. If a carer submits personal information about their location during the planning stage, shifts can then be filtered based on their proximity to the visit too.
It’s about empowering carers where it’s practicably possible, providing them with some degree of control over their working lives. This extends to being able to book holiday requests via mobile and having them approved quickly. It helps people plan their personal lives and also this information is automatically updated on the system which further helps with planning availability.
Technology encourages greater engagement between management and carers, something which should be openly embraced. It helps to keep the lines of communication open. Staff can provide feedback on visits, to be reviewed by an approver, ensuring the correct outcomes of the visit are achieved.
The cloud opens up channels of engagement regardless of time or location. It means management and individual carers can keep in contact and can access direct feedback that may be critical to the success of the business.
By allowing carers to input information directly, it avoids bottlenecks and adds the flexibility of updating data in the field. If carers want to request more shifts, they can do so easily. It also allows them to specify patterns of availability. This enhances the overall working experience of carers, due to the demands of the industry with unsociable hours and travel times. After all, if you look after your staff – and this holds true regardless of industry – then you’re more likely to retain them for the long term. You’re helping them to work around their life responsibilities.
Never miss a visit
With information at their fingertips, carers should be able to deliver improved levels of care. And if there is a problem, then management can react to change in real time. Offering up greater capabilities to support the business technology can help to ensure that it runs as smoothly as possible. It also means that it’s more likely to achieve good ratings with CQC with visit feedback from the carers continually being captured.
There’s much debate around whether care should be bottom up or top down with management teams enforcing a strict framework for care. What’s important is a balance between the two so that care providers can plan work patterns around carers preferences to enhance the quality of care overall. No one could argue about the importance of person-centric care. But being carer centric is important too. People are our biggest asset; something which rings true of any type of business. Invest in them, train them, support them, nurture them and retain them. That, I believe, is one of the most important ingredients in a successful business.
For more information on how to empower your carers www.theaccessgroup.com/PeoplePlanner