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An ideal future in social care

Sarah Colling, Head of Development and Engagement, Ideal Carehomes

According to a recent report from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), more than half a million people are waiting for social care assessments or care in the UK. One of the biggest contributors to this national social care crisis is the shortage of staff, mostly due to the highly skilled care workers being poorly compensated and feeling undervalued.

Despite these challenges in the social care sector as a whole, here at Ideal Carehomes we have managed to decrease our vacancy rate by 50% over the past year by offering a competitive salary, in-house training and progression and wellbeing initiatives for all staff.

People who join us at Ideal Carehomes are given an above average starting salary of £22,000, greater than the starting salaries for police and nurses, and extensive training through the Ideal Academy – an in-house training initiative designed to maintain a high standard of care and give teams a clear route for career progression. This is a necessity in the current financial climate, not only to give staff peace of mind, but also to ensure high quality care is provided.

In our recent Employee Engagement Survey of Ideal Carehomes staff, around 90% said they enjoyed their in-house training, with a similar number saying they felt that they were able to make a difference in their role.

One of the biggest obstacles facing care organisations is staff retention. Social care workers are becoming increasingly frustrated with the poor progression opportunities and offering a great progression plan to staff members often goes a long way in improving staff retention.

For this reason, we encourage all staff members to learn and progress their careers in their care home. We offer an internal management course, Ideal Futures, which was developed to provide home management experience to those who have already progressed within Ideal Carehomes and are looking to be home managers in the future.

Through eight monthly modules, participants are able to learn the different elements of managerial roles in the care homes, from staff management and HR to budgeting and marketing. Meaning that those with the desire to move up the ladder are able to progress and enjoy a prosperous career in care.

Of the most recent graduates of Ideal Futures, over 90% were promoted either within their care home, or to one of our sister homes. Valuing care workers in this way has increased our staff retention within the organisation, providing more employees with a sense of purpose, which in turn cultivates loyalty.

Furthermore, it is imperative, now more than ever, to value the mental and physical wellbeing of social care workers. With the current pressures on the care industry, it can be easy for carers to feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities and workload. Putting others first is our caring team’s best asset however this can also mean they forget about their own wellbeing and the importance of not ‘pouring from an empty cup’.

To tackle this issue, we provided all employees with our Wellbeing Pathway, which ensures that they have access to a variety of wellbeing services. The Wellbeing Pathway is available to all members of the team and consists of mental and physical support and guidance. This includes a 24-hour counselling support line, face-to-face stress management training, regular mindfulness techniques, advice on nutrition and exercise, and ways to reduce stress and improve overall health and wellbeing.

By making substantial changes such as these, we are investing in and supporting our employees and in turn, striving to change the stigma attached to working in social care. These investments have played a vital role in the growth of Ideal Carehomes, resulting in the opening of 14 new homes in under four years, and a total pay increase of 9% for our staff within six months in 2021. With plans to open three more homes by the end of 2022, we are proud to have a thriving company of skilled team members who are able to progress their careers and offer excellent standards of care.





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