Working as a business consultant supporting both the private and public sector within the health and social care arena, one of its greatest assets, is the staff that work within it. A large proportion of these staff are paid national living wage or wages not greatly in excess of national living wage. A large proportion of any care providers costs are spent on the staffing that they employ. Social Care relies heavily on people
Last summer I spent 2 days over the May Bank Holiday working as a volunteer at the Lincoln beer festival. One of my jobs on the Saturday morning was sweeping up the entrance outside, of unwanted cigarette butts etc. But as we know first impressions count and cleaning of even an outside space makes a huge difference to the overall experience. So with a broom and dustpan, the outside was swept and hopefully to the satisfaction of the festival manager.
However, what was disappointing was the number of other volunteers who walked past me and couldn’t even give me the time of day. Whether this was them as individuals or me just feeling sensitive, I will never know, but it got me thinking about how people are made to feel and if others feel cleaning is beneath them.
So the next time you are in a nursing home or a care environment, spare a thought for the cleaners, cooks and carers who are doing a wonderful job keeping the health and social care sector going. They are not just a number and are humans with feelings and take pride in their work. I know when my Mum was in a Nursing home, the smell of the home was the first thing I noticed as I entered the home and I always made a point of saying hello to the cleaner as I passed her on my way to my Mums room.
Without these staff, the cog of the overarching wheel would grind to a halt and the services ultimately break down. Without staffing to provide core services, then the business fails to operate and function.
Care providers rely so heavily on their staff and the roles that they perform, often going beyond the call of duty to provide increased outcomes for the clients that they support. This is not limited to the care staff, but the cleaners, maintenance staff, that ensure that the homes meet public health requirements and give that first all important impression that counts for everything.
I was honoured to be invited to the recent Linca Care Awards, as a guest of the Chief Executive of Every One Charity I support in my role of Director/Trustee. It was great to see so many staff working in the care sector attend and be recognised for the important roles that they carry out. Whilst not everyone was a winner on the night, to me anyone who works in the care industry is a winner and without you, the sector, would be in a far worse position than it is currently.
This month has seen Lincolnshire grind to a halt with heavy snow and front line services key to the health and social care sector would have stopped, had it not been for the staff turning in for duty. Stories abound of staff walking miles to work and even care home owners braving the snow to go and pick staff up in rural areas to try and keep services running. Value is often referred to in cost terms, but people going above and beyond what is expected is a great example of added value. The cost of time and money put to the back of workers minds and concentrating purely on maintaining a service to the end user.
The care sector is constantly having to provide more but with less resources. Providers finding it harder and harder to continue to trade as margins are slowly eradicated. A big pressure faced by many providers this forthcoming financial year will be the increases to
national living wage, pension reforms, inflation increases and these have to be found within existing care provider budgets. If contracts are fixed in price or on a fixed term contract, the fee paid by commissioners are not increased.
Ongoing negotiations with commissioners requesting annual increases are required to ensure that the enforceable changes are implemented. This is at a time where commissioner budgets are not always funded to meet the true cost of providing care, let alone providers asking for annual increases. A promise of £150m for adult social care this week hardly scratches the service at a local level, when you think there are over 150 Councils involved in Social Care in the UK.
The increase to national living wage should be embraced and staff recognised for the important roles that they carry out. However, these national increases should be funded properly and not left to local commissioners to decide whether the increases can be applied or not.