The last twelve months have presented a significant challenge for health and social care services to cope with the pressures of the pandemic. However, as the latest King’s Fund publication, “The road to renewal: five priorities for health and social care” highlights, the struggle over the last twelve months is just a continuation of years of underfunding and lack of support for this sector.
The King’s Fund publication “The road to renewal: five priorities for health and care” states
“Even before Covid-19, it was clear that the social care system is not fit for purpose and is failing the people who rely on it, their families and carers. There are also longstanding issues in how social care staff are treated, including low pay and poor terms and conditions.”The Five Priorities for Health and Social Care
Workforce Centre Stage
As the King’s Fund document highlights, the first priority is putting the workforce “centre stage”. Social care staff are essential workers but until Covid-19 hit, they were often treated by society as unskilled workers with little value. The last twelve months have made it clear that without this essential workforce, society as a whole struggles. They not only do the essential job of supporting and caring for those most at risk in society, but they do it with ever dwindling resources and increasing burdens.
Timian In Partnership (A case study)
However, even with the lack of support and funding, there are a huge number of well run, well organised and successful care organisations. Timian is incredibly fortunate to partner with many exceptional organisations including 1st Enable. With high staff retention, well trained carers and an empathic management team who put their workforce centre stage. Recently Timian has worked with 1st Enable to help develop staff in supporting a young man move into his own accommodation after years of struggling to find him somewhere appropriate to live. Historically, he struggled to settle due to his specific needs and behavioural issues. There never seemed to be the perfect place for him to find the appropriate support. Our involvement was to deliver a Timian Developing the Trainers programme and then support the team of in-house trainers to develop a specific set of strategies to enable his move. Although our input was only a small piece in a larger puzzle, we believe it was instrumental in providing staff with the confidence to support him during the transition into his new home.
Success despite the barriers
Despite the pandemic and the underfunding of social care, 1st Enable are just one example of an organisation who have supported a family in a caring and empathic way. The young man is now living in his own supported accommodation with a steady group of carers in support. These are the successful outcomes we should be aiming for. Organisations working in partnership, with appropriate training, supportive staff and empathic management teams working in coordination to provide the best outcome for individuals.
One of the things we’ve noticed as a learning organisation is how desperate most staff are for information and training. They attend courses, not just because they have to, but because they want to. We are increasingly seeing staff on our courses wanting to know where to get more information and wanting to develop skills beyond the scope of the training. Learning in health and social care has become one of the key pillars to staff retention. The better trained staff are, the more valued they feel therefore the more likely they are to stay. A stable well trained workforce has the benefit of being able to better support those who may present with behaviours that challenge. That workforce not only gets to understand the people they support, the people they support learn to become more trusting of those staff. This trust creates the right platform for supporting those in crisis.