A smooth day-to-day keeps carer turnover at bay
01 October 2019
Sixty-one percent of carers entered the profession because they want to help people – so why are they leaving in droves? In this post we look at the measures to reduce employee turnover in the care sector, we discuss how care-home managers and operators can make front-line staff happier and more productive in their day-to-day work. The recommendations are based on our recent research , in which we spoke with 2,000 carers and care-home managers from across the UK.
Many of the carers we interviewed expressed frustration, because they felt that the organisational culture and environment prevented them from providing excellent care and spending valuable time with service users.
So, what tasks are getting in the way, and how can we remove or streamline them?
Top of the list: excessive paperwork. A growing culture of “If it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen” puts front-line staff under pressure to record details of incidents and service-user behaviour. Carers fear that failure to do so could expose them to disciplinary or legal action.
Record-keeping is critical to good-practice, but because most carers take notes by hand then type them up later, the process is extremely time-consuming. It’s no wonder that many carers we interviewed felt they spent too much time on paperwork and not enough with service users. (As one participant put it: “I didn’t take this job to fill in forms, if that’s what I wanted to do I’d go and work in an office and get paid double.”)
The good news is that there are many straightforward, inexpensive technology solutions that can streamline and accelerate the process of taking notes, giving carers more time to spend with service users.
Technology adoption shouldn’t stop there. Care remains a deeply traditional industry, and it has been largely left behind as other industries have moved with the times. As a result, there are a number of low-level admin tasks that could be accomplished more quickly and efficiently through digitisation – from organising rotas and managing care plans to measuring service users’ progress and outcomes. Care operators can reject new technologies because of the upfront investment. That could be a short-sighted approach, as these solutions offer a remarkably rapid return on investment.
Another major factor affecting carer satisfaction is lack of resources. As cuts to local-authority funding bite, carers are seeing the effects on front-line services. Many staff report frequent shortages of basic supplies, such as gloves, paper towels and wet wipes. One even told us that her employer’s failure to repair a broken washing machine had left her taking laundry home to do it herself. In addition, most homes have reduced the number of outings and activities for service users, and many have stopped them entirely.
Financial constraints aren’t going away, so how can managers help? By listening to carers, and ordering new supplies promptly when shortages arise. Critically, if managers request new stock or equipment repairs and there is a lead time, they must keep staff up-to-date on progress so that they know their concerns have been heard and are being addressed.
Finally, there’s rostering. Many carers look after relatives in their private lives – whether it’s collecting their children from school or helping their elderly mothers with the weekly supermarket shop. Whatever it is, managers need to be sensitive to carers’ commitments and plan around them. Fifty percent of carers we spoke with said that having regular or predictable shift patterns contributed to having a positive experience in their jobs.
Inevitably, things will come up and carers will sometimes need to change their plans. Managers need to give carers flexibility to swap shifts among themselves, without requiring them to navigate lengthy approval processes.