“I enjoy a good night’s sleep. However, having responsibility for a portfolio of homes across the North of England, being a Nominated Individual and recently welcoming my baby daughter into this world, there is no shortage of sleepless nights. Everyone needs a supportive network of people around them. I rely on a dedicated, reliable team at Orchard who share my vision, and are passionate about making Orchard the best it can be. Outside of work, I am lucky to have a very understanding family and a close group of friends.
Although we have a robust governance system and we strive to have a positive supportive culture, as many leaders within the care sector, I can often lose sleep over the unknown factors which could impact the quality of care. With every best endeavour, there may always be something that can arise. Quality and the experience, passion and dedication of our staff are so closely interlinked. As CEO, it is my job to ensure that staff have the right tools, processes, systems and high standard of training to enable them to do their job well.
I am passionate about transparency, I want to make sure our staff feel confident to raise concerns safely and without retribution and be sure that their feedback will be acted upon.
Recruitment and retention are some the most challenging aspects for any care provider. The King’s Fund, a charity that shapes health and social policy in the UK, reports that there are over 110,000 vacant positions in the sector, with providers often relying on expensive agency staff.
Since taking on the post of CEO, I have been working hard with my team to identify what we can do differently and launch new initiatives to make Orchard a great place for our employees, creating an organisation that people will be proud to be part of and feel that they are continuing their professional career without having to switch employers.
As we enter a new decade, I am deeply committed to acknowledging and rewarding the contribution our carers make to raise the profile of the caring profession as a positive career choice. Orchard, other care providers and the government all have a responsibility to shift public opinion. Those who are thinking about their next career move need opportunities to learn and advance their careers and to feel a sense of purpose, supported by an experienced, professional senior management team. Yet they often perceive working in the care sector as unattractive, the work status low and unskilled, and poorly paid, with no job security.
This attitude often reflects how some staff perceive their role – “I am just a care assistant, chef, cleaner…..”. I strongly believe that everyone’s role matters and that we all have the compassion, dedication and commitment to deliver the highest quality of care. We get to make a difference to people’s lives every day, we put smiles on people’s faces and we are there when families experience the loss of their loved one. To care for another person is a vocation that can be demanding but is always rewarding.
The recruitment and retention challenge will not be resolved overnight, but if we can do our bit to make caring more attractive as a career pathway we will deliver better continuity and quality of care for residents, by staff they know, reducing the use of agency staff. At Orchard, we provide learning and progression opportunities, mentoring, paid training and professional development and career pathways that are geographically unlimited.
Orchard has travelled a long way on its quality journey. Today, 88% of our core home portfolio are rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by the CQC and we are all working hard towards achieving 100%. The operations team, home managers and care staff have embraced new ways of working that allow us to identify where standards fall short of what we would expect, and respond quickly to improve.
My commitment to our colleagues, residents, families and partners is that we will always strive to deliver care that we would all wish for our loved ones. People in our communities deserve nothing less.”