If there is one thing that everyone in social care is acutely aware of currently it would be the recruitment and retention crisis. People who need support and their families are suffering due to the workforce crisis, staff are being asked to do more and more because of the lack of colleagues, and social care providers are being stretched to breaking point by the difficulties they are experiencing with staffing.
It’s people that matter
I’ve always maintained, it’s people that make social care. When my dad’s care home was taken over by a new provider in 2011, and the care dramatically deteriorated overnight, it was because the new owners prioritised aesthetics over the workforce. They didn’t want to invest in the fantastic staff who knew the residents, or in the equipment (like hoists and baths) that the staff desperately needed, they just wanted to make the home look like a hotel.
It’s experiences like this that have made me so passionate about working with social care staff to upskill them, make them feel valued and appreciated, and give them the support they need to evaluate, reflect and change their practices to keep up with everything we understand about what great care and support in 2022 should look like.
Whilst I totally agree that social care staff should be paid more and given additional bonuses and perks to attract the best people into the sector, I also passionately believe that the quality of training and mentoring that staff have access to can make a big difference to whether they come into social care, stay or leave. And training varies A LOT in social care.
Training for success
I’m fortunate that due to the variety of my work I have opportunities to provide training and mentoring both online and face-to-face, working with numerous different staff in different settings and with varying challenges. Many have only had limited training prior to our time together, and finding ways to inspire and engage them is a huge part of what I do. In fact, I’d say it’s more important than the actual information I provide. Why? Because we know that training like eLearning churns out a lot of factual information, but so much of it rarely sticks because it’s a format that doesn’t inspire and engage enough.
For this reason training that is more personal and practical is obviously preferable, but even that has its problems, most notably ‘the bump’. This is the way I describe the sudden uptick in the performance of candidates straight after their learning experiences, which though very welcome often doesn’t last. The only way to combat ‘the bump’ is to have a long-term follow up plan that involves candidates taking ownership of their learning, and being asked to describe how they are applying it and seeing its impact in the months afterwards. Ultimately of course, training also has to be kept up-to-date and repeated to keep minds fresh and engaged.
When you get it right as a trainer, you get lightbulb moments that make all the hours of preparation worthwhile. They come along for a variety of reasons, including:
- You’ve found a way of explaining or showing something that has just clicked with a learner.
- The person who’s doing the training in a professional capacity realises something that impacts them personally (perhaps because they are caring for a family member who is experiencing similar challenges).
- You’ve shared a resource or an idea that a learner really values because it will make a big difference to their practice.
Join the social care revolution
I’m biast of course, because I know the huge difference the amazing people who cared for my dad (some of whom I’m still in-touch with 10+ years later) made to his and our lives, but I love this sector for more than just my personal experiences.
I’ve made a life working for myself within social care because of how special, life-affirming and unique it is. Every day is different, and provides the chance to have a work life that (certainly for me this year) is sometimes happier and more fulfilling than your personal one.
Some of the reasons I love social care include:
- It gives its workforce the chance to make another person’s day better than it would otherwise have been.
- It’s an emotional rollercoaster like no other.
- It has amazing camaraderie.
- When you learn a skill, technique or way of working that can help you provide even better care and support it’s inspiring and exciting.
I can’t promise if you come to work in social care that you’ll get to work with me, but I hope you’ll find ways to access what I and others like me offer to the sector. We aim to give social care the added value that as a profession it needs to recruit and retain the most compassionate, skilled and amazing people that on a daily basis help our loved ones to live their best lives in their own homes, care homes, supported living, shared lives, or in the plethora of other services that make up this varied sector.
Join us, and make a difference like no other.
Until next time…