Posted: 21 April 2020
With the unprecedented challenges that Coronavirus (COVID19) has brought across the country, and especially the health and social care sector, it’s never been more important to support employee health and wellbeing.
Despite the incredibly challenging situations that our colleagues face each day, the Exemplar Health Care team has shown incredible resilience and dedication. But that doesn’t mean that, as an employer, we can sit back.
A healthy and happy workforce is key to our services being able to continue to care for the 700 adults with complex needs that live in our homes during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
That’s why we’ve introduced some new initiatives to our already robust health and wellbeing support programme.
‘We Care’ package of support
Coronavirus (COVID-19) can have an impact on people’s wellbeing that goes beyond the workplace, for example, increased everyday worries about doing the shopping or facing financial difficulties.
We’ve introduced ‘We care’; a package of additional support for colleagues during the pandemic. The package includes initiatives such as free meals for all colleagues on shift, a free food ordering service through our catering supplier with a 10% subsidised discount, and financial support for colleagues whose children get free school meals.
We hope that this support will help our key workers to continue to come to work and ease the burden of accessing the things that they would normally find easy, such as shopping.
The Above and Beyond award
A few weeks ago we started our ‘Above and Beyond’ award which asks people to nominate colleagues who have gone the extra mile at work. Each week we pick one lucky winner who receives a £25 Amazon voucher alongside a personalised certificate to say thank you and well done.
We know that feeling valued and appreciated is a big part of having good mental wellbeing, and this is just one of the small ways that we’re trying to make this journey as bearable as possible for our colleagues.
Free online mindfulness training
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in the moment and is known to help to reduce stress, increase focus and improve happiness.
We’ve worked with one of our learning and development suppliers to give our colleagues access to free online learning about mindfulness. They can join daily 30 minute mindfulness sessions via Zoom and download MP3 recordings to listen to in their own time.
We’ve also started sending out emails with links to articles about personal resilience and managing stress, which offer strategies and suggestions about building resilience.
It’s easy for us to get lost in worrying about these unprecedented times and we hope that encouraging colleagues to take time out to reflect and focus will help to reduce that worry.
Communication and culture
You only need to look on our Facebook page to see the incredibly positive feedback that colleagues have been giving about the ‘Exemplar family’.
“Being in this together and being part of this team has made us all a lot closer” – this comment from our #ClapForCarers Facebook post just sums up the importance of building and maintaining a positive workplace culture that has good communication and strong team work.
Our Leadership Team have been working around the clock to introduce small gestures that are making such a big difference. For example, last week we sent all colleagues an Easter goody bag and we’ve increased our homes kitty’s so that they can pay for each staff member to order a pizza takeaway once a week.
Mental Health First Aiders
All of our homes and central offices have Mental Health First Aiders who are trained to offer mental health advice and support to colleagues, ranging from being there to listen, to supporting colleagues to find appropriate help.
At this time, we’re reminding people that our Mental Health First Aiders are there to listen and talk.
Colleagues also have continued access to an Employee Assistance Programme which offers them confidential support to deal with personal problems that may adversely impact their work performance and/or health and wellbeing. This includes a 24-hour helpline and free counselling with experience counsellors.
Over the past six months, Exemplar Health Care has trained a cohort of organisational coaches to evolve the style of conversations and culture to that of a coaching approach.
During Coronavirus (COVID-19) the team of coaches are offering virtual coaching for colleagues who want someone to talk to and help them to set goals, actions and strategies to support their resilience and confidence during these difficult times.
The main thing that’s stood out for me is how much our colleagues appreciate feeling valued and just knowing that they’re being supported, and that’s really helped us to build the team spirit that we need to get through these difficult time.
Remember, your workforce is your most valuable asset and is crucial to ensuring that the people you support stay safe and healthy - so it’s vital that you support them through this time.