With expert commentary from industry giants, we look at innovative approaches to staffing in care homes in order to empower caregivers and enhance resident wellbeing.

Innovative approaches to staffing in care homes have been emerging to address the challenges faced by the aging population and the increasing demand for quality care.

Understaffing in care homes has impacted everyone connected to social care services; from social workers, families and those requiring additional care and support.

The lack of support provided by the government to the social care sector and understaffing in care homes have seen the social care crisis spiral.

More families than ever before are struggling to find high-quality and affordable care for their loved ones – with one in ten people taking on unpaid caregiving responsibilities.

What’s more, social care workers are experiencing burnout more than ever before: with a lack of support, resources, and staff their workloads have tripled. Online searches for ‘carer stress syndrome’ have increased by 133% over the last 3 months.

With social care workers feeling overworked, we are seeing more care workers leave the sector than ever before. As a result, the quality and level of care provided to those who are more vulnerable has been impacted.

The Government must focus on boosting the social care workforce, rather than reducing the allocated funding for social care reform. From introducing a social care minimum wage, appropriately funded services and desirable career progression schemes, the Government can address the caregiving crisis and stop depending so heavily on the unpaid work of women.

Recently, the Care Quality Commission released the State of Care report, their annual assessment of health care and social care in England. The report highlighted the shortfall in the care available, whether that’s via emergency care in the NHS or waiting for bed availability at a care home, is because of the limited workforce, with poor staff retention, poor morale, and low pay.

According to the latest report, 86% of care home providers and 88% of homecare providers have experienced recruitment challenges. Over a quarter of care homes that reported workforce pressures were not actively admitting any new residents, either.

The care home sector has been in the spotlight like never before. After a turbulent few years with the pandemic, and recent delays in government social care reform, the later living sector needs continued support.

Chris Donnelly, CEO at Found CRM and Co-Founder of Lottie sees that there are positive signs that the care home industry has recovered from the pandemic, and many homes continue to provide the highest level of personal care for all residents: “Whilst the standard of care has improved across the sector, we must reward those working in care by offering a comfortable and safe workplace that offers a competitive standard of pay, especially now with the current cost-of-living-crisis.”

In Chris’s opinion, technology, alongside continued improvements in pay, will undoubtedly solve the staff retention issue facing the social care sector. Innovations, such as assistive technology, mean that residents and employees are feeling the benefits, with less time spent on administrative tasks, and more time spent on compassionate care.

Software in care homes is in demand more than ever before. Found’s new research has revealed that care home managers are actively seeking CRM solutions over the last 12 months, with a 50% increase in online searches on Google for ‘best care management software’* and an 53% increase in online searches on Google for ‘care home software’.

Along with software, keeping an eye on seasonal patterns surrounding staff and recruitment is an effective way to stay ahead of the curve, and there are a number of ways this can be monitored.

Chris believes that, firstly, they should establish a system for data collection and analysis. By maintaining a centralised database or software system, managers can track relevant information, such as recruitment numbers, turnover rates and seasonal variations: “This data will serve as a foundation for understanding and predicting patterns.

“What’s more, utilising a centralised database or software is helpful in analysing historical data and identifying recurring seasonal patterns. By examining trends over several years, managers can pinpoint specific times of the year when staff shortages, or increased demand, tend to occur.  With this insight, managers can develop effective workforce planning strategies to ensure their home is fully staffed all year round,” Chris added.

Chris sees that recruitment strategies should also be tailored to address seasonal variations by planning recruitment drives well in advance, and actively seeking temporary or seasonal staff for busier periods, such as the summer holidays, when demand for respite care is often higher.

Once you’ve onboarded a team member, retaining the right staff has never been more important. Working in care can be challenging, but also very rewarding, and giving staff the tools and resources to spend more time with residents can help.

Removing the barriers where staff feel burned out or stressed, for instance handling all new care enquiries or manually writing up all notes through an online centralised system, can help create an environment where staff want to stay.

To ensure what you implement is working, Chris highlighted how care home managers should regularly review the effectiveness of their approaches, seek feedback from staff, and make adjustments based on new data and insights, to ensure the delivery of high-quality care throughout the year.

Collaborative approaches can also work well to aid staff shortages and issues, with a combination of technology and person-led methods helping to reduce staff turnover in care homes.

With an ever-increasing pressure on care home staff to carry out all administrative tasks, there has never been a more suitable time to invest in technology to lift the workload. Staff are feeling burnt out, stressed and overloaded – leading to many quitting the social care sector.

Found’s research has shown care homes are struggling with the pressure of coping with new enquiries more than ever before, with 68% of all care enquiries not responded to by care homes, and a shocking 92% of enquiries weren’t followed up within a 7-day period.

From budgeting apps to care home software that tracks new enquiries, these types of technology can help to reduce the pressure on employees. Tasks that may have previously taken a few hours could be reduced to minutes, so care workers can focus more attention on resident care.

“Working with your team to ask for feedback on any new technologies they have found useful, require more training and support with, or have any concerns they’d like to share can create a positive working environment where employees feel fully supported,” added Chris.

We asked Chris, in his expert opinion, what advice he could offer to care home managers to market their care home as an appealing place to work. He explained how talking to current employees for honest feedback on what they enjoy about working at the home, and to find out their thoughts on any areas of improvement, will give you a true insight into how others view working at your home.

“It’s important to attract and retain people who share your vision and goals. For example, when advertising for a new role, consider what qualities or traits are most important in a person for the role, and make this clear in the advertisement.

“Consider what is truly important to your team and make sure, as an employer, you offer this. Whether this is work life balance, competitive pay, room for progression or training, and development, people are attracted to workplaces that reflect their own personal values and goals,” Chris finished.

Ultimately a care home that prides itself on a positive and supportive working environment often sees higher volumes of applications for open vacancies.

* Internal analysis created by Lottie via Google Keyword Planner over the last 12 months. Full data set is available on request.

**Internal survey created by Found in 2020. Full data set is available on request.