Which? way for Care?

Consumer magazine Which? has carried out its own investigation into Care Homes, sending in actors to pose as new residents. As with other media investigations the results give cause for concern.

They refer to standards that cite well-being, welfare and independence, but their concluding comment refers to a remark in a 2009 report that “People appeared fed up, disinterested in their surroundings and withdrawn”. Why, they say, “hasn’t anything been done?”

What can be done?

Unsurprisingly what can be done starts with recruitment and, pertinently, selection. Some of our clients report many unsuitable applicants while some others report difficulty in finding any applicants at all. Various factors influence this, geography being one. At first sight professional selection looks expensive but in reality it is the least expensive option. Employees who leave within weeks (necessitating further recruitment) or prove unsatisfactory after 12 months are the real source of cost. I’ve come across businesses (to be fair not in the care sector) that are so busy recruiting and re-recruiting that their managers have precious little time to do anything else.

The average interviewer “gets it right” about one time in three. With structured interviews and some simple selection processes that can be improved to two out of three. Not perfect, but a real improvement.

Supervision counts too. It can appear complicated to deal with poor attitude, indifferent communication and unreliable attendance – and especially if the failings are marginal. Employment law seems such a minefield. But in reality law simply provides a structure within which these matters can be addressed. Dealt with confidently they fade away. Avoid them and they tend to spread. Informal discipline, return to work interviews and good direction of employees all need skills, ones that can be under-used, and ones in which it is easy to be trained.

Of course there is a whole range of other skills in managing people that come from training and experience. They are not necessarily well “taught” in colleges –although other skills can be developed well in a college environment. Placing an experienced coach alongside a newly appointed manager can be immensely effective.

If there is to be time and resources for personalisation, independence and genuine care then there is a road still to be travelled.

I believe Employer Solutions helps its clients to travel it, but then I would say that wouldn’t I?

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