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Beware the Model Carer
There is an uncanny relationship between protestations of carers convicted of abuse at Hillcroft Nursing Home and our experience of those few carers who have the wrong temperament to work in the care sector.
Care Homes need a positive workplace culture. That is one where employees adopt the values expected of them by the wider public and by the relatives who place loved ones in their care.
Ultimately it is a people management issue. Employing an HR adviser would be a luxury for anything other than a larger care sector employer. But HR support is available widely from specialist consultants in the UK.
If you want to develop a positive workplace culture then a good starting point would be our blog on Lessons to be learnt from a failed inspection.
Here are some further tips:
- Recruit carefully – include the capacity for emotional empathy in your selection criteria
- Have an induction programme for each new member of staff and be prepared to vary it according to the needs of the new recruit.
Conduct an externally managed, anonymous, staff survey. This requires some courage on the part of owners or managers but can provide invaluable information that is not otherwise available . Identifying issues enables them to be addressed.
- Hold workshops at which values, frustrations and aspirations are discussed. External facilitators can be invaluable in helping to develop good attitudes in employees. This is because employees invariably give them greater credibility, not on account just of external skills but because “no-one is a prophet in their own land!” That is, they may listen more to “experts” than they do to you, even though experts say the same thing as you do!
- Nip poor behaviour in the bud. Having informal words and setting expectations can work wonders. If staff know exactly what is expected of them then the vast majority respond. Employees take values from those around but can slip to the lowest common denominator if no-one takes action on poor behaviour.
- Take staff concerns seriously; it takes courage for employees to speak up.
- Investigate any suggestion of abuse thoroughly. Use external specialists in serious cases or if you are uncertain of the process.
- Use your disciplinary procedure where appropriate and start early. You want to be warning employees to improve their behaviour, not dismissing them because that behaviour has gone too far.
Malcolm Martin – QCS Expert Human Resources Contributor