Posted: 13 January 2022
As the new year begins, we spoke with Laura Hambridge, Registered Manager of Eden House, about how she plans for the year ahead and what advice she would give other social care managers about balancing yearly planning alongside remaining flexible to the changing requirements of social care.
What is the first thing you do to prepare and plan for the start of the year?
What I like about the new year is the fact that it is that – a new year, a fresh start, and you’re able to start from scratch a little bit.
The way I plan is that I look at every area, for example quality assurance, resident meetings, staff meetings, supervisions, training and then I start planning all of that in the calendar so there’s a better structure for the year.
Otherwise, the year goes by so fast that you can sometimes forget to plan something in. I find that planning all of that in advance helps to stagger it through the year and keep to time a little bit better.
What are some of the key priorities to plan at the start of the year?
The main things I prioritise when planning are the things I can actually plan for, because there’s a lot of things in care that you can’t plan for. So, it’s things such as audits, appraisals, meetings, quality assurance – those are the kind of things you can plan.
The rest just happens, that’s the reality of care – needs change all the time, circumstances change, these last two years have been a complete whirlwind.
How do you support your team in planning and getting ready for the year?
A key focus for us right now is staff mental health and wellbeing because of the challenges we’ve faced over the past two years.
We have mental health first aiders on-site for our staff, and we have resources and services we can point staff to for more information and support for their wellbeing.
Our priority for our team at the start of the year is to have one-to-ones to see how they’re feeling and to make an individual plan for the year, including goals and learning needs. When looking at training and development, that includes mandatory training for all staff and then individual development opportunities for areas which each team member wants to improve on or are interested in.
How do you balance planning alongside being flexible and reactive?
Planning is great and it gives you structure, that’s what I like about it. It helps you keep seeing the track ahead, because when changes come in they can cloud that track, so it helps that when the clouds move you still have that track in front of you to follow.
You can’t plan for everything and balancing it is hard. Sometimes you have to drop some things and I think that’s the reality of it – if we keep our expectation that ‘this is due on this day’ we’re going to fail, we need to be realistic about what we can achieve and prioritise what is the most important thing at the time.
As much as doing a quality assurance survey is important, if it’s due in a week where we have a COVID-19 outbreak that survey isn’t a priority and it won’t happen, but having the plan in place means that it doesn’t then get forgotten later.
What are your key plans and goals for 2022?
Covid has obviously shook us up a little bit, and we want to get back to a new normal, it’s going to be very different now going forward. As much as covid has been a negative thing there has been some positive outcomes, for example people are now much more comfortable with virtual meetings and technology which means we can improve communication. Just getting back to a new normal is one of the biggest goals for us, but what that looks like exactly, honestly, I don’t know.
Looking after ourselves is also a key focus for this year, as we have really pushed ourselves these past two years.
What advice would you give to social care managers about preparing for the year?
Using the resources of Skills for Care is one of the biggest pieces of advice I can give, and joining the Registered Managers Networks. Finding other managers who you can talk to and realising that you’re not alone in the challenges you face, that’s one of the biggest things I could advise - getting support from people who know exactly what you’re going through.
It’s also important to have realistic expectations, there’s 12 months in a year so we don’t need to do it all in January and February. Spread it out over the year and set realistic expectations.
Find more information and support to help with planning for 2022 with our #PrepareToCare22 spotlight.