“We’re in the business of caring, so selfcare should be incorporated”: Care manager on how flexible working is making staff happier
Following interviews with staff across all levels, leading Scottish care group Renaissance Care, which employs 1,200 people across the country, has reviewed its culture, working practice, and its health and wellbeing offering across the board, as it responds to rising resignations of care staff across the industry on the back of the pandemic.
In response to feedback around long shifts within the care sector, which have historically been 12 hour shifts as industry standard, the care home operator will now offer staff a flexible approach to their working week. The move means that those who want to adapt shifts around childcare commitments, or want to cut down on long shift times can request to do so, while certain roles will have the option to support to a four-day working week.
Home manager at Renaissance Care’s Glencairn Care Home in Edinburgh, Jozi Stables, has seen a great uptake of flexible hours. Jozi explained that the move has meant something different for each person, including herself who has used it to spend more time with family and take up further study.
Jozi said: “You read about it, but I don’t think unless you work in care it is easy to understand how much the pandemic changed everything.
“It made us so much more reactive than we ever were before because we had to work within major constraints and time pressures. Situations changed so quickly and we would react to the changing needs on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. Of course, this is something we do every day within our role, however, the additional pressures of the pandemic meant this need became even greater.
“Now we’ve had a while to process everything and take a step back, I take great pride in what the care sector has achieved and continues to deliver. We endured long hours, incredible risks and fear which were unrivalled in any other sector, and we did this without question, and with the safety and care of our residents and colleagues as our main priority. However, the emotional stresses were evident as fatigue took its toll and it’s not surprising that so many people left the sector.
“All of this amounts to a clear reason some would want to look elsewhere for a new career where modern ways of working, and the silver-linings from the pandemic such as working from home, could be implemented. For me and my colleagues though, care is a passion, so leaving the sector for such reasons wasn’t really an option, so Renaissance Care bringing in these updated benefits has meant we’re able to regain some of that balance while remaining steadfast in our roles for those we care for.
“Renaissance Care has always been a fair employer and, because of that, we have incredible staff. The move to implement a cultural review as guided by its employees underlines the company’s determination to support its people whilst being mindful of their needs, and by listening and adapting where possible to create the work life balance we all deserve.
“To this point, the review included staff focus groups as a core component to the situational analysis undertaken. The survey has led to many different benefits for staff to help address the stresses and concerns which have been raised within the industry as a whole, and directly to the businesses senior leaders during the process.
“Amongst pay increases, health and wellbeing programmes, and increased training opportunities, the flexible approach to the working week has been the benefit which staff have embraced the most. It, almost immediately, gave people the power to regain some work life balance, and make their schedules work for them rather than the other way about.
“Because of the job we’re in, a four-day week can be difficult to implement, as when we’re needed, we’re needed, and we always prioritise those in our care. However, this more flexible approach means we are able to have conversations with each staff member to try and accommodate shift patterns and working rotas that meet the needs of the workforce as well as the home. As a manager, I want my team to be happy and feel supported – being able to offer this flexibility allows me to achieve this to a greater extent.
“This flexible approach means something different to everyone; for some it means catching a later and less expensive train, some potentially start and finish earlier so they can pick up wee ones, others can take extended lunch breaks or finish early to get some headspace and down time after a tough day. It’s empowering our staff to make the choices which work best for them and their life but understanding that resident’s needs will always come first; so it is flexible and a bit of give and take from both sides. When our staff are happy and healthy, they are able to provide even better care to our residents.
“I have been using flexible working to visit my family over the weekends – something I have been unable to do properly since the pandemic began, so it means a lot me and them.
“What would previously be a flying visit following a four-hour journey after work, now means I am able to spend quality time with my loved ones which has made me happier and given me more chance to rest and recuperate, allowing me to be the best I can possibly be for those in my care.
“I have also been able to use this time to take up further study – I will be starting an Honours Degree in Healthcare and Health Science this year – something I have always wanted to do, but not been able to find the time in my current schedule without taking leave from work.
“Other team members are also undergoing qualifications and the flexible approach to working hours gives them the option to take some time during quiet parts of the day to catch up on course work, or even start study groups to support each other, which in turn not only improves the level of care we provide, but has sparked an invigorated sense of team spirit.
“Everything we do here as a staff team, and throughout Renaissance Care, is about collaboration and trust, and our new ways of working is an extension of that. We know we can rely on each other to do the job to the best of our ability at every turn, and this will not, and has not changed with the rota adjustments.
“The care industry should be as agile and as forward thinking as any other business. By doing so, modern lifestyles and pressures can be taken into consideration which will result in a happier, more well balanced workforce, who, because they have cared for themselves, are able to share that love and attention in a more meaningful way with our residents.”
“If it wasn’t for this, I wouldn’t be able to still work in care”: care worker reflects on changes in the care industry over the last decade
Renaissance Care Group, which manages Meadowlark Care Home in Forres, has recently undertaken a review of its cultural practices with detailed input from staff across all disciplines.
The refresh has come in response to the exhaustion felt across the sector following the pandemic, and in order to retain and attract more talented staff into care. The group which currently employs 1,200 people across the country has implemented a flexible approach to working, as well as a host of health and wellbeing initiatives such as an exercise platform DanceSing, and a supply of period products in each staff bathroom.
Natasha Bagley, a carer at Renaissance Care’s Meadowlark Care Home in Forres, has worked in the care industry for over a decade and thanks to the changes has regained some work / life balance allowing her to pick her kids up from school, and tuck them into bed at night.
Natasha said: “As we neared the end of the pandemic, it was clear that increasing numbers of carers were leaving across the sector after the pandemic. The challenges we faced over the past few years, teamed with cost-of-living and fuel prices rising, as well as traditionally long hours resulting in a lack of flexibility, it was clear changes needed to be made within care to help keep staff within these very essential roles.
“If it were not for Renaissance Care’s determination to listen to what carers need as shown in the recent staff survey and cultural review, I would struggle to continue to work in care. For me, the new flexible approach to our working week has alleviated childcare issues, meaning I no longer have to count on others to help pick my kids up or put them to bed.
“Although Renaissance has always tried their best to be flexible with our hours, I often found that the industry standard 12-hour shift patterns left me missing out on important moments for my children. Now, I have the flexibility needed to be there for them whenever they need me. My son loves it now that I can pick him up from school and I can be there to tuck them in at night – it may seem like the small things but it’s these things which matter the most in life.
“Greater work-life balance is so important. As a working mum, my job does not finish when I clock out. I still have meals to cook or other household tasks waiting when I get home. Minor changes to my schedule like working split shifts allows me to fit these things into my day without adding to my load. The changes give us such a strong ability to be flexible with our time. If we want more hours, we can have them. We have reclaimed power over our schedules in a way that the care sector has never seen before.
“When I started in care, I was the youngest carer at my home by about a decade. But, with the care industry moving towards a modern way of working, I hope this will change. You can now fit a career in care around things like a college course or any other pursuit. This will only strengthen the development of the next generation of carers, bringing in fresh ideas and revitalising the sector for years to come.
“It is not just the working practices that have changed. Renaissance champions the idea that good care starts with self-care. Focusing on looking after my physical and mental wellbeing allows me to give the best version of myself to the residents I care for. The introduction of wellbeing initiatives like the new DanceSing programme is also great for us all in the homes, giving us a chance to have fun and let our hair down while continuing to deliver the best personalised care in the industry.
“The introduction of period products in bathrooms is also a huge help. Sometimes this job can be extremely fast-paced and stressful. It takes one less thing off our minds and allows us to focus fully on our residents.
“The one thing that has stayed constant about working in care over the last decade is how rewarding the job is. Being a carer is more than just caring, it is laughing and having fun with the residents, it is about forming relationships and brightening up each other’s day. Even on the hard days, I cannot see myself doing something different.”
Residents, staff and guests at seven Scottish nursing homes have been treated to highly-charged live performances by Celtic rock band Red Hot Chilli Pipers as part of the celebrations to mark Care Home Open Week.
The outdoor events took place at two sites in Edinburgh, East Lothian and West Lothian, and at a further home in Dunblane, which are all owned and operated by Randolph Hill Nursing Homes Group. The performances are part of a whirlwind two-day tour by the band, covering Randolph Hill’s seven nursing home locations across Scotland to mark Care Home Open Week 2022.
Dubbed ‘the most famous bagpipe band on the planet,’ the Red Hot Chilli Pipers drew international attention after winning the BBC talent show When Will I Be Famous in 2007. The Scottish-based outfit now travels the globe playing concert tours as far afield as America, Malaysia, India and Saudi Arabia.
Care Home Open Week, which takes place from 27 June to 3 July, aims to connect care homes across the country with their local community. The event provides care homes with the opportunity to showcase their facilities, activities and services. It also puts a focus on career opportunities and encourages communities to support and build connections with their local service throughout the year.
Peter McCormick, Managing Director of Randolph Hill Nursing Homes Group said: “We were delighted to welcome Red Hot Chilli Pipers to play at all of our seven nursing homes. As you might expect, these were highly-spirited performances which our residents, staff, and invited guests thoroughly enjoyed.
“We are really pleased to have the band’s support during Care Home Open Week. It’s an ideal way to mark the occasion, which celebrates the important role of care homes in the communities where they operate.”
This story was picked up STV News and you can watch a video of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers playing here.
Hawkhill House in Aberdeen recently celebrated Happy Carers Week, giving their carers a wonderful day of celebration and appreciation for all the hard work that they do. Graffiti wall were set up to show messages of thanks from residents and staff. Hawkhill would like to give a special thanks to their staff who helped in the event. The home cooked foods were amazing and home-baked sweets were delicious! Keep up the good work, Team Hawkhill!
Last Friday (2 June 2022), the staff at Suncourt House in Troon held Jubilee celebrations for residents in the home gardens.
Families, friends, staff and their families joined in the fun. All were treated to fabulous food and stunning cakes throughout the afternoon.
A right Royal surprise took place when the ‘queen’ arrived to greet everyone and honour a very special lady, Rhona Gibson – Suncourt Home Manager. Rhona has been awarded the British Empire Medal and will appear on this years honours list, for all the dedicated work carried out for charity.
The day was thoroughly enjoyed by all, made all the better with the sun shining and a merry sing along with a guest singer.
Check out the party below!
Care home royally treats residents with Jubilee celebrations
Residents at Edinburgh home welcome bumper weekend of celebrations
An Edinburgh care home is celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in style with a jam-packed events calendar – including a visit from a local DJ and themed cocktails.
To mark the occasion, residents at Cramond Residence will be treated to a themed party with family, friends and members of the community invited to a grand garden celebration.
The event will see a DJ and singer take to the stage throughout the afternoon, with an abundance of food and drink stalls, themed cocktails, home-baked delicacies and weather permitting, a garden picnic.
In the lead up to the main event, residents have been making Union Jack hand held flags and will enjoy a Jubilee themed quiz coordinated by the home’s dedicated Lifestyle Coordinators. Residents will also be invited to help decorate the home with banners and bunting ahead of the event.
Client Liaison Manager and registered nurse at the 74-bedroom home, Christian Daraio, said: “The majority of our residents can remember exactly where they were when the Queen was coronated 70 years ago in 1953.
“It’ll be a special memory for not just out residents but staff and the wider community which is why we wanted to mark it properly – what better way to raise a toast to the Queen than with a party?
“We strive to make sure that our calendar of activities provides something for everyone, giving our residents endless possibilities to enjoy all the things they want to do on their own terms.”
The celebrations will coincide the launch of Cramond Residence’s Garden room – an area that will allow residents to spend time in the fresh air and surrounding nature whilst also socialising with others.
Christian added: “The garden room will be a great addition to the home’s existing high-end facilities and can be enjoyed by our residents for the first time as part of the celebrations this weekend. Fingers crossed the sun will be shining!”
A tombola and raffle will also take place on the day to raise funds for CHAS and Downs Syndrome Scotland.
Alison Newton, Operations Manager at Cramond Residence, said: “The Jubilee party will consist of a number of family-friendly activities, including face painting, a ‘pin the jewel on the crown’ and even a DJ. On arrival, kids will also receive a Jubilee goody bag.
“We have staff volunteering to come in and help on the day – even though they should be on their days-off – which we’re really grateful for!
“It’s shaping up to be a really great event and we’re delighted to be able to welcome family members and the local community back into the home after socialising was limited for the last two years”.
Established in 2018 at a cost of £8m and spread across three floors, Cramond Residence provides a range of activities specially designed to give residents a richer and more satisfying life, with specialist facilities and trained staff on hand to provide support & relief.
Asides from its tailored activity programme, the home also provides bespoke physiotherapy sessions with boutique experts, as well as specialist dementia care which is delivered in an environment thatcombines luxury hotel living with the reassuring feeling of being in your own home.
Cramond Residence offers high quality care for up to 74 residents offering a small-group living concept in nine houses, with all residents enjoying an exceptional range of amenities and activities, delicious food and bespoke care from a highly-trained team.
Hawkhill House in Aberdeen celebrated Nurses Week 2022 (6 May – 12 May) in style with staff and residents taking part in many activities! Nurses have gone through a lot of challenges and difficulties in the past couple of years and the staff and residents at Hawkhill House wanted to make them feel special and appreciated on their special week.
As part of their celebrations, they held a festive lunch for all the nurses, residents hand-made Thank You cards, and together they played a game of bingo and online puzzles with the chance to win prizes. At the end of the event, everyone received a special gift, this was Hawkhill’s simple way to say thank you and show their gratitude to all their nurses for their continuous hard work and dedication.
Have a look at the pictures below to see everyone having fun and celebrating!
Last year Lochside Academy pupils designed and created a personalised Xmas card for each resident in 5 of our Care Homes – this was over 200 cards! We ran this as a competition too and used the winning design as our team e-card sent to providers, partners and colleagues. Scottish Care also provided a £15 Amazon voucher as a prize to the winner.
This was covered in local media:
This year, for Christmas 2021, we have 7 Care Homes and 2 schools (one secondary and one primary) involved:
- Laurels Lodge
- Maryfield West
- Cowdray Club
- Torry Care Home
- Tor na Dee
- Hawkhill House
- Eastleigh Nursing Home
- Lochside Academy (teacher contact: Corinne Millar)
- Stoneywood Primary (teacher contact: Megan Jewers)
325 Christmas cards were designed and created by the pupils and the contact teachers delivered them to the Care Homes 20-22 Dec. Our winners this year: £15 Amazon voucher to the winner of the senior school, Mija, S4 Lochside Academy and a £10 book voucher to our Stoneywood Primary winner, Amber, P6/7.
Megan Jewers, Lochside, was delighted to take part again this year saying “I had a lot more teachers keen to get involved this year than I did last year.”
We look forward to seeing how this initiative grows in the coming years.