Geoff Edwards, Operations Director for the north of England, Care UK
Care UK has 18 of its 124 homes rated as outstanding by the regulators – more than any other provider of homes for older people. In the article below, Care UK’s Operations Director for the north of England, Geoff Edwards, sets out how the providers’ culture and philosophy around nurturing and developing team members has led to this achievement.
“From Aberdeen to Dorset, over 6500 families trust us to care for a loved one. They trust us to provide not just a safe, warm and comfortable place to live but a lifestyle that is tailored to each individual person’s needs and wishes. Families want to be sure that we will meet their love one’s personal and medical needs and that they will be treated with the same love and compassion they would give.
This is a challenge I know we could not deliver without some of the best trained and motivated teams in the sector and I am very proud of those teams.
Our success starts with recruiting and developing the right people. Over the past few years we’ve really raised our game on how we search, attract and retain the very best candidates to work for us; bringing the majority of our recruitment in house and promoting internally wherever possible.
Nationally, all social care providers are facing a challenging recruitment environment. This has led us to establish a ‘grow your own’ approach, developing and promoting deputy and home managers from within and enhancing our commitment to our apprenticeship scheme. We have more than 600 apprentices of all ages in a range of roles from care assistant to IT support. Our partnership with an external training provider, and the fact that we pay at least the National Living Wage for all apprentices, has contributed to a successful scheme that we are very proud to run. This scheme builds skills, develops leaders of the future and helps us retain the very best.
We also run development programmes for team leaders, clinical leads and deputy managers who aspire to become home managers. Each year, a cohort undertakes a comprehensive course, devised and delivered in house to equip them with essential leadership skills. Currently, 108 colleagues are enrolled on one of our leadership programmes, with 30 taking their level 5 care leadership qualifications.
We strongly believe that this focus on developing people translates into well-led, motivated teams that share our vision to deliver excellent care for every resident. To further enhance this, we’ve also developed a programme to help those homes that are consistently rated as ‘Good’ by the CQC or Care Inspectorate to achieve ‘Outstanding’. They are coached in how to produce the body of evidence of their already outstanding work and mentored to address weaker areas. The programme also gives networking and support opportunities in which we share learning from good, as well as not so good, experiences. All this led to a silver medal in the UK Employee Experience Awards last year.
I also believe that the recognition we have from the two regulators reflects our ethos of recognising, rewarding and thanking those who achieve remarkable things. We run a scheme that we call the Going The Extra Mile or GEM awards. Fellow colleagues, residents, their relatives and visiting professionals are invited to nominate team members that they feel have done something amazing that really brings to life our values of caring, passionate and teamwork. Each month, in every home and in our central support teams, GEM award winners are selected and given a certificate and a small reward.
Covid-19 has bought terrible challenges for our entire workforce, but I am constantly amazed at, and grateful for, the resilience, hard work and sheet determination that our teams have shown over the last 12 months. We’ve all had to find new ways of working and an inner strength to support residents, their families and each other through these tough times. As the vaccine hopefully leads us out of the worst of the pandemic, I sense that our teams, while tired and a bit battle-weary, have a renewed sense of pride in how they coped in adversity. Equally importantly, the pandemic has forced us to find new ways of doing things, like online training or better use of social media to keep families and residents in touch that I am quite sure will bring efficiencies and better care as we go forwards.”