To engage and retain carers, you need to commit to their personal development
23 October 2019
High staff turnover is a key driver behind the UK’s shortage of carers, which is expected to reach 290,000 by 2030. To understand how care homes can boost employee retention, we conducted research in which we spoke with 2,000 carers and care-home managers nationwide. Based on our findings, in this last blog in the series, we outline steps that managers can take to support carers’ personal development.
Firstly, managers need to have meaningful conversations with carers about what they want out of the job and how they like to work. What kind of services have they provided before? Do they specialise in treating patients with a certain condition? Do they have any specific needs? What is their preferred working environment? Are they unable to work on certain days or beyond a certain time? These are the questions that managers need to ask to understand who each carer is, what drives them, and how they work best.
Next up is building resilience. Care work is extremely demanding – physically, emotionally and mentally. But despite doing one of the toughest jobs imaginable, carers receive very limited support and guidance to help them manage the burden. (Astonishingly, carers often receive less resilience training than people in 9-to-5 office jobs.) To equip carers to cope with the emotional and mental impact of their work, managers must build support networks and provide training on building resilience.
Another key ingredient is promoting collaboration. Many carers we spoke to told us about regular competitions between home managers, with a prize awarded for the home that achieves the best financial performance , for example. This kind of behaviour has a negative impact on carers’ engagement, because they care much more about service users than financial metrics. (As one respondent put it: “I don’t want to hear how much money you’re making, I want to know how the clients are developing.”)
Currently, many carers feel like they are in competition with the home down the road. Instead, they want to create an open, peer-to-peer environment in which they can ask for help or advice, share best practices, talk about their experiences and discuss how best to treat people with different conditions. By fostering this collaboration, managers can spur carers’ personal development and potentially raise care quality for service users.
Finally, managers need to celebrate carers’ success. Numerous carers we spoke to felt that their work was lowly and unimportant, yet many also shared heartwarming stories of how the right care can dramatically increase the quality of life for service users. For example, successful care programmes can help people who entered a home reclusive, stressed and violent to turn their lives around – allowing some to return to live in the community. By recognising and rewarding carers’ achievements, managers can help them feel proud of their work.