Jan 19

Eight ways to improve your service in 2019

Posted: 3 January 2019

1. Take stock of where you are

The presents are opened, the dinner is eaten and you’ve welcomed in the New Year.  For many, the start of the year is a good time to reflect. What did you accomplish last year and where would you like to be at the end of 2019, for yourself and for your organisation?

For example, are you thinking about things you’d like to do to organise your time better or things to help move your business forward? It’s important not to try to do too much. Have one goal in mind and then break it down into smaller parts. For example, this year we’re going to improve our CQC rating. What are the areas that you need to focus on? Do you have an action plan to help you get there? Who can help you? By breaking large goals into smaller ones we have a higher chance of success.

Use our Where are you now and where do you need to improve? template to help you take stock, followed by our What do you need to do to get there? checklist. Here’s to a positive 2019!

2. Be creative with your recruitment

Consider open recruitment - this is the removal of any unfair and unnecessary barriers that could unintentionally prevent the employment of talented people from all kinds of backgrounds. For example care leavers, single parents, disabled people, people with mental health needs, people with convictions, people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness can bring a wealth of diverse skills, experiences, perspectives and ideas to your workforce. In turn this can benefit your organisation, existing workforce and, most importantly, the people that access your services.

Offer a traineeship – this is an education and training programme that provides young people with the skills and work experience they need to find employment in adult social care, or to progress onto an apprenticeship. They're designed for people aged 16 - 24 who don't have the appropriate skills or experience to start work or apply for an apprenticeship.

Host a graduate - one of the benefits of doing this is to get a full-time team member, contributing ideas, initiatives and opportunities for development in meeting and managing improvement priorities in your care context. Applications for host organisations will open soon so please look out for this on our website.

3. Go back to basics

Ensure that your staff have the right core skills to do their job. By this we mean English, number, digital and employability skills, including team work, and problem solving skills. Enabling front line care staff to complete everyday tasks such as communicating with the individuals they support, counting medication, using a computer and writing a care plan plays a big part in delivering high quality and safe care. We’ve got lots of information, guides and activities to help you do this.

The Learning through Work guide for managers contains seven bite-size booklets to help support workers in social care to develop their skills in numeracy, literacy and communication. Buy it now in our January sale.

4. Make your money go further

Don’t forget that if you’re an adult social care employer in England, you can claim the Workforce Development Fund (WDF) towards the costs of your employees completing adult social care qualifications and learning programmes. Time is running out though as this year’s fund closes soon so now is the time to find out more and apply.

It’s also important to remember that most of the information, advice and resources that are on the Skills for Care website is free to access so make use of it. We also have local area teams who can provide information on our tools, offer tailored support and put you in touch with local networks, initiatives, and opportunities.

5. Work with families

Giving your staff the right skills and knowledge to work closely with the families of people who need care and support could vastly improve the service you provide. Some employers have a culture that sees families as a problem and difficult to work with. However, involving them in a loved one’s care could help to create successful relationships between the family, the person being cared for and your workers.

Coming soon in 2019 is our ‘Working with families’ guide which will explain what skills and knowledge adult social care staff need to do this. It will include ‘Things you need to know’ and ‘Things you need to do’ to set some guidelines about what learning and development around ‘working with families’ might look like. This can help you design or commission training and give you some tips about how you can better work with families. 

6. Improve your activity provision

Meaningful activity is any physical, social or leisure activity that is tailored to the needs and preferences of the individual. Good activity provision has many positive impacts on the health and wellbeing of people who need care and support. From keeping active to overcoming loneliness, improving depression and even reducing the rate of falls.

Recent reports have shown that this area of care provision can be lacking and the Care Quality Commission are identifying it as an area that requires more consideration and development within care services. Many organisations have dedicated Activity or Lifestyle Coordinators but wellbeing and meaningful activities are the responsibility of everyone. This ‘whole home approach’ is the best way to ensure all people who are receiving care and support feel included and valued.

Meaningful activity doesn’t have to come in the form of big gestures, it could be inclusion in everyday tasks such as setting the table, starting a conversation, telling a joke. Does your service take a ‘whole-home approach’ to activity provision? If not, why not note this as an action point to work on in 2019.

To learn more about the work Skills for Care is doing around activity provision visit www.skillsforcare.org.uk/activity

7. Value the leadership skills in frontline staff

When we think of a great leader we tend to think of someone who is in charge, who leads a company, manages a service or runs their own business. We rarely think of our frontline workers as being leaders.

However, recognising the value of such skills in your frontline workers has many benefits. The worker themselves reports a higher sense of job satisfaction which helps to boost staff morale and aids a happy workplace. Managers are able to trust and rely on their staff to run a good service, and ultimately, these skills can have a huge impact on the quality of life of the people you support.

Look out for the article later in the month where we’ll be looking in more detail at how recognising and nurturing leadership skills in frontline staff can have a positive impact on your service.

8. Celebrate a job well done

It may be that you and your staff are already providing a great service and you would like to celebrate that fact. You could do this by simply telling your staff that they are doing a brilliant job and that you appreciate all their hardwork. The smallest of gestures can go a long way on making your staff feel valued.

If you would like to celebrate on a bigger scale you could nominate yourself for an Accolade award. The Accolades celebrate excellence in adult social care. They reward the commitment and investment made by organisations and services who do a great job in supporting and developing their staff to deliver high quality person centred care and support. Nominations for the Accolades 2020 will open in April 2019 but you can find out who this year’s winners are when they are announced at our gala event on 31 January. Keep an eye on Twitter and our website.