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Shining a light on the value of support workers

Shelley Bloom, Head of HR at Eden Futures

The social care sector, which includes Eden Futures as an employer of 1200 people, is vital to public health and safety during the coronavirus lockdown and most staff cannot work from home. Yet we haven’t heard much on the news about the great job they’re doing to continue to support people in their homes – particularly adults with learning disabilities, mental ill-health and autism – during these challenging times.

The many millions of the UK population being encouraged to stay at home also includes people in supported living accommodation, many of whom have behaviours described as challenging. Our team provides care and support to 650 service users across 127 sites ensuring they’re able to live independently in the community while occupying shared houses, sole apartments and specialist bungalows.

Our support workers and staff have been doing a fabulous job keeping service users occupied, entertained and their spirits up to maintain good health and wellbeing, as well as following the Government’s guidelines. Daily activities have ranged from making sure they get their daily exercise, cooking together, planting seeds and even making Easter cards for elderly neighbours.

Service users’ lives have been really impacted with the closure of day services and restrictions to what support we can provide in the community so it’s been really lovely to see an array of videos and pictures from across the group on our social media that show them keeping busy while they can’t go out and do the things they normally do. Bearing in mind a lot of people we support thrive on routine, with the support of our staff, they’re coping well so far. We’re proud of every one of our team during this very unusual time.

With new developments recently launched in Stoke and Nottingham, and other new services on the horizon, albeit maybe now delayed due to coronavirus, there remains a continued need for us to recruit – even during the crisis – to sustain the level of support we provide. Obviously interview methods have moved away from face to face meetings to video interviews as we take advantage of the technology at our disposal today and the need to stay at home for any non-essential travel.

Eden Futures wants to attract people to come and work for us who may already provide care but crucially may want or need a career change, perhaps if they’ve been working in the heavily hit retail or hospitality sectors. If people are classed as self-employed, they could even take advantage of the support offered by the Government and work for us at the same time.

Our employees have really demonstrated the vision and values of the business, and their can-do attitude in the past few months, even more so than usual. One example is Aleyshia Chocholko who joined the team after moving from a support worker position to internal recruiter.

Aleyshia won Eden Futures’ Ambassador Award 2019 and her enthusiasm and passion to show support workers how great Eden Futures is shines through – we get regular feedback from candidates telling us this too.

We can guarantee that new starters will be a vital part of helping our service users live their lives. At all levels there’s comprehensive training and development support with the chance to gain a recognised vocational qualification, free support for continued wellbeing and a workplace pension scheme.

We know the national turnover rate of social care workers is high, some 33.8%, mainly due to low-level pay and the challenging nature of the work, however Eden Futures’ turnover figure is much lower than this. Those already employed in social care make up 6% of the UK’s total workforce, a figure which is greater than the total NHS workforce.

The need for adult social care jobs will increase by 36% by 2023 and, up until the start of 2020, Brexit was our greatest concern as it meant a potential 70,000 shortfall in workers. Coronavirus-related shortages and limitations supersedes all this. Whilst it’s desperately sad to see the loss of jobs in other industries, such as retail, manufacturing and hospitality, it does create a talent pool to tap into and provide people with a new career at Eden Futures.

 

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