Our expert Laura Wood examines if flexible working could truly work in the care sector.
Flexible working means giving staff the flexibility over where, when and the hours they work. But can this really work in health and social care, where hours have historically been traditional shift patterns?
CQC Regulation 18 relates to staffing. This includes safe staffing numbers and ensuring providers have the right skill mix and competencies in their workforce. It is also important that the needs of the people we support are paramount and that dependencies are assessed in order to deliver safe and effective care.
However, innovative rotas that consider the individual needs of service users can also be a huge benefit to staff too. For example, could you introduce twilight shifts to ensure service users who go to bed late have additional support. How about early risers who would benefit form support early in the morning?
As well as having huge benefits to the people we support, flexible and increasingly innovative shift patters can also be beneficial to the employer.
- Address skills shortages
- Attract and retain talent and support diversity
- Narrow their gender pay gap
- Improve employee job satisfaction and loyalty
- Support wellbeing, enables caring duties at home, creating a positive work life balance
- Empower organisations to be more agile and responsive to change
As well as roles involving direct care and support of service users, other roles in the organisation can benefit from a flexible way of working such as senior managers or area specific roles. Increasingly hybrid working is becoming more popular but perhaps senior managers can work directly with service users allowing direct care staff to work flexibly too such as completing training at home or different shifts to allow for essential care planning.
Standard shift patterns do not always meet the needs of service users or staff. Accommodating different needs and being responsive to these during the course of a person’s working life is key. Employers need to focus on retention as well as recruitment and ensure flexibility is a key to this. Flexible working isn’t just offering part time hours or allowing people to work night shifts instead of days. It is about creatively exploring individual needs and how a wide range of ways of working can support the service users.
All of this can seem very daunting in our world where standard shifts have always applied, particularly for direct care givers. However, with involvement from service users, commissioners and staff themselves, innovative, flexible rotas could be the answer to improved outcomes for service users, improve staff well-being, productivity and engagement and ultimately increase your reputation as an exciting employer.