Lynn Longland, Head of HR, on commitment
The impact of the new COVID-19 variant is being felt across the country and additional staff are urgently needed now to support the adult social care workforce, where absence rates have more than doubled in recent months due to self-isolation and higher than normal sickness levels.
Recruitment has remained a challenge but, on a positive note, the pandemic has also resulted in a diverse pool of people, from all different walks of life and backgrounds, applying for a role as a support worker. They may not have ordinarily considered a role in social care, but they have the right values and, due to the circumstances they find themselves in, have seen this as an opportunity to make a difference, which in turn benefits us as an organisation and the people we support.
The government has just launched the ‘Care for Others. Make a Difference’ campaign this week using television, digital and radio advertising to drive awareness of long-term career opportunities, highlighting the rewarding, varied and flexible roles available across the care sector to help build a sustainable workforce now and for the future. Additionally, we always advocate to new staff joining Kingwood, that a career in care is secure and that they are more than ‘just support workers’ and a vital part of helping the adults we support to live independently.
During these challenging times with the additional strain the pandemic has caused, the commitment and hard work of our staff has been highlighted more than ever. We are determined to invest not only in providing the best training possible for staff, so that they have the tools and are equipped to be great support workers, but also ensure that their continued health and wellbeing is a priority. This is particularly important to staff new to social care, who may not find the role was as they expected and need the additional support from line managers and colleagues while they settle in and learn the ropes.
We have recently introduced additional financial support over and above the Government directive for support staff who self-isolate, so that they are paid in line with our normal Occupational Sick Pay policy (if eligible), hopefully alleviating anxieties and ensuring we are helping to reduce the spread of the virus.
The impact on staff’s mental health and well-being is something we care about and review continuously. During this pandemic period, our staff have been and will be faced with difficult decisions, and may be asked to undertake tasks or witness distressing scenarios whilst dealing with additional challenges. It is vital we acknowledge that feelings of stress, confusion, anger or despair are all normal in day-to-day life. We are here to help our staff cope by reinforcing team working, providing regular contact to discuss difficult decisions and checking in on staff wellbeing.
Staff are also encouraged to use our Employee Assistance Programme which provides free, confidential 24/7 advice and support, covering a wide breadth of services, including access to a GP, as well as emotional, financial, debt and legal information and support.
Last but not least we must all remember to be kind.
Take care and keep safe.