Everyone has had their own unique pandemic experience but having spent 37 years working in the sector I feel confident in saying that there has never been a period of such personal challenge for those working within social care.
Going into the pandemic the word “crisis” was not uncommon within the social care sector, but the last 2 years have created unprecedented circumstances for operators. Providers have risen admirably to the challenge in dealing with the constantly changing guidance; masks, testing, self-isolation, visiting restrictions and more. Still the operating context continues to be amended.
As we look to brighter days it is timely to constantly question our approach to leadership in this new dawn – leadership needs to come to the fore.
If we have learnt one thing about leadership it is the importance of striving to create cultures which acknowledge and recognise every individual’s contribution in delivering great care in this new environment. To achieve this we need consistency, integrity and a constant commitment to clear communication to the entire workforce and beyond.
It is also key to remember that leadership occurs at many levels throughout an organisation and coaching and encouraging shift leaders and managers to personally, and regularly, thank colleagues for the shift they have just delivered goes a long way in building morale.
Social care is a people business – delivered by and for individuals. The range of personal experience and the variety of impacts experienced by individuals means that valuing colleagues and acknowledging their contribution has never been more important. As such leaders need to actively recognise how the past 2 years have directly impacted everyone.
The executive leadership in Ideal Carehomes have been very focused on enabling colleagues to feel appreciated for their efforts throughout the pandemic. This has involved a significant increase in remuneration in addition to regular communication from senior management recognising and thanking staff for their efforts. The last month has seen a whole program of events focussing on, and promoting the wellbeing of the workforce, and has been very well received.
As we shift gear again, homes re-open and enquiries build, all Ideal Carehomes homes are being supported to rethink how to bring back the sense of welcoming homeliness and great customer and stakeholder outcomes. Supporting this shift requires engaged and empathetic leadership.
Leaders in the sector must now rise to the challenge of shaping service delivery for the future and operating in a market which has more bed vacancies than ever before and more recruitment challenges than has ever been experienced. Put this alongside social care reform, which is just over the horizon, coupled with the inflationary pressures that everyone is feeling, and the need for clear supportive leadership has never been more crucial.
I have every faith that this sector is up for the challenge!