19
May 20

Contingency planning during the crisis

Posted: 19 May 2020

Ed Brown is the Nominated Individual for Father Hudson’s Care Adult Care Department that provides care and support services for older people and people with complex care needs. Here he talks about their contingency planning in the face of an unprecedented pandemic.

As Head of Adult Care Compliance and Development at Father Hudson’s I lead the teams that deliver our frontline services at St Joseph’s Care Home in Coleshill, North Warwickshire, and at St Catherine’s Bungalows and Day Service, as well as in our supported living and domiciliary care services.

I am also the nominated individual with CQC, so I am legally responsible for supervising the management of our regulated activities ensuring compliance and continuous improvement are at the heart of all we do.

Like every service we have been faced with a situation that was totally unexpected, but we also know we had lots of experience and acquired knowhow that would help us respond. With that in mind our contingency planning was based on five principles:

        Collaboration

  • We worked closely with the local authority though mutual aid meetings where our voice was really heard
  • We have built strong relationships over time with the infection control team so we were not afraid to ask for and take advice,
  • Adopting supportive relationships with CQC inspectors was important through open and honest communication about the challenges being faced
  • That approach helped us respond in our services, but core themes and challenges have been fed into local and national discussion about the response to the crisis in social care.
  • Our team were quick to embrace technology to aid this collaboration with others, especially Office Team and the use of NHS mail. We also used WhatsApp to connect with other providers - both registered managers and nominated individual networks. These networks are facilitated by Skills for Care so have helped us access all the latest information and support.
  • An open and honest dialogue with health professionals was based on our confidence about knowing the sector and helped us raise concerns when things have not gone well. 

        Communication and flexibility

  • Communication is key so we had daily meetings for our adult care managers - via Teams - to a create a flexible action plan to meet this dynamic and ever changing situation. 
  • It was crucial to share knowledge, challenges and best practice across the whole of the adult care department.
  • Effective communication with staff was central to our plan so we ensured there was effective use of handover to make sure all information was disseminated quickly.

-          Sharing resources

  • Sharing PPE across our services and sharing contacts of suppliers with other providers.
  • We moved quickly to redeploy experienced staff when our day service had to close. We had to work closely with staff to help manage anxieties and model how their skills were transferable. We had to rely on strong leadership to induct staff quickly and safely.

-          Leadership-

  • Our investment in on-going development of leadership at every level of our provider services has really paid off during the crisis
  • That investment meant we had confident and effective leadership on every one of our shifts across our services. As well as accessing Skills for Care courses such as the well-led course we have developed our own in house support for managers were best practice is shared and problem solving is worked through as a group. Our innovative recruitment of management positions have also meant strong individuals in key posts. 
  • That investment meant the deputy manager in one of our services was able to step up when the manager was off sick with COVID-19.

-          Continue to be led by your values

  • The current crisis might seem to present endless challenges, but it was really important not to lose sight of the core values that make us who we are.
  • We have especially kept focus on being a person centred service which has been appreciated by those we support and their families.
  • 'Our values are to provide dignified, respectful care for all and treat each person as an individual. Despite having to follow strict guidelines and adapt very quickly in the way we deliver our care we have continued to do this.

I’m not going to pretend we have got everything right but the fact that we have had a series of flexible approaches has helped us learn from our mistakes.  But I do know our collaborative approach has really paid off resulting in us being able to make sure we can keep our staff and the people we work with as safe and well as possible.

I may be the Nominated Individual but I can only carry out my legal and operational responsibilities thanks to the skill, dedication and total professionalism of our staff who have stepped up in all sorts of different ways.