Business News Opinion

Keep a stiff upper lip? It may be better to talk

Caroline Barker, Director, Solicitor, Ridouts Professional Services Plc

When I heard that the theme for this months’ edition was on ‘Promoting Well-Being’, I initially thought, naturally, about the well-being of service users.  But then I thought about the importance of promoting the well-being of staff.  Providers and, in turn, carers are coming under increasing pressure to do more, with less.  CQC want providers to achieve ever increasing good outcomes for service users on ever decreasing budgets.  There is one resource that carers should have control of – themselves – but giving a bit more of oneself to compensate for the lack of resource elsewhere can be counter-productive.  If staff well-being is suffering, how can we expect this to translate into good care for service users?

Well-being encompasses many aspects – physical, mental, emotional and social.  A recent survey from CV Library found that 31% of care professionals have considered resigning due to a lack of support around mental health.  Whilst mental health is only one prong of a person’s well-being, it is somewhat eye-opening that within the sector, where mental health is often a feature of day to day living, that a large proportion of people supporting service users feel themselves, unsupported.

48% of carers noted that aspects of their job could cause them to feel anxious or depressed, yet 88%, were too embarrassed to disclose information to their employers about their mental health.

Carers are looking after some of the most vulnerable in society, yet have we considered the vulnerability of the carers?

The Key Lines of Enquiry (KLOEs) for adult social care considers staff Well-Being.  Buried within a prompt under Well-Led, it states “How do managers make sure staff are supported, respected and valued; have their rights and wellbeing protected; and are motivated, caring and open?”

It is important that sufficient time is carved out to have meaningful supervisions which do not focus only on the practical aspects of the job but also support that can be offered more generally to workers.  Training in mental health issues, encompassing service users and staff are important to raise awareness and get people talking.  Making people more aware of the issues opens people up to conversations and moves them away from associated stigma.

Training, supervisions and an open and transparent culture are all important aspects to consider but simply having such mechanisms in place will not be enough unless those implementing them have the skills to recognise and make necessary change.   It is important that providers think of the benefits and not the burdens of supporting carers in a more holistic way.

Staff who feel supported will perform better and this will have a knock-on effect to the benefit of the service users and the home.  Recently Andrea Sutcliffe spoke about factors that make a home ‘Outstanding’ – this included a home that “value and cherish their staff, making sure they feel valued, are developed and encouraged to be the best they can be…” and that “staff are engaged and motivated, always looking to improve with a ‘can do, will do’ attitude.”

With turnover rates of carers and registered nurses sitting above 30%, retention of good staff is getting increasingly difficult.  Instead of keeping a stiff upper lip, let’s start a discussion for the benefit of all concerned.





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