Caregivers have a major influence on care recipients’ health and well-being, from supporting them with projects and hobbies to helping them with their basic daily needs. The role a carer plays in the life of their patient can be much more than a full time position, and is incredibly demanding.

Much like becoming a nurse, teacher, doctor or fireman, qualifying and becoming a carer is a vocation. It’s something you do because you want to help others. This incredible selflessness is a gift to the care industry, but how much are we really considering the needs and wellbeing of those in care roles?

Around 1 in 8 million adults are carers in the UK. Of those, 61% of them said that they had suffered physical ill health as a result of caring for someone. Carers without a support system – including those working in residential homes and managed facilities – can suffer from:

  • Loneliness:often carers can feel an overwhelming sense of isolation. This can stem from feeling unable to talk about their caring responsibilities or share frustrations and fears.
  • Lack of appreciation:Day in and day out, the relentless tasks and emotional strain of caring for someone can lead to feelings of not being seen, not getting any recognition or simply not being heard if there’s a concern.
  • Feeling out of their depth:with inconsistent training, a lack of a support network and in some cases simply a lack of time, it can be very easy for a carer to feel like they’re undertaking tasks and carrying out duties they shouldn’t be doing. This is especially true if they work in an understaffed care facility where staff turnover can lead to existing employees having to ‘pick up the slack.’

Unfortunately, it’s an epidemic in the UK, but it’s one that can be improved with a bit more awareness and a lot more support from employers and other care groups.

What can you do if you employ, support or work with carers?

  • Manage resources:your staff are your best resource, so you need to make sure that you have enough of the right people, at the right time.

I review my staffing levels at least every three months and have flexibility built into my budget to increase above normal levels where required. This is about being responsive to changing needs, having proactive care planning approaches and being clear that you’re comfortably meeting the person-centred needs of current residents before admitting new people.”

– Jason Denny, Registered Home Manager, Old Hastings House (taken from Skills for Care’s ‘Good and outstanding care guide’)

  • Monitor your people:an effective service of care is only as good as the people that deliver it. How you manage staff and how you support carers in the UK will have a huge impact on the quality of the care that is provided. You can empower yourself as a manager with the tools youneed to give more to the people that require support. Invest in you and YOU will go a long way.

“As a registered manager I continually remind my staff of the importance of their role and encourage them with new opportunities to learn – which helps staff retention.”

– Beth Cheffings, Ridge House Residential Home (taken from Skills for Care’s ‘Good and outstanding care guide’)

  • Continuous improvement: Monitoring your staff’s care performance will show you what is working and which areas require improvement. This also enables you to ensure the service you provide is meeting the crucial needs of the people you are giving it to.

“There’s a culture of continuous improvement and organisational learning that’s now embedded throughout the organisation.”

– Cressida Rapela, Regional Operations Manager, Welmede Housing Association (taken from Skills for Care’s ‘Good and outstanding care guide’)

It all starts with that first step. Whether you’re managing a staff of carers, or you manage a charity that provides support to unpaid carers – giving others the tools to do what they do well is a powerful gift (that will keep on giving.)

“No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.” – Reid Hoffman, Co-founder of LinkedIn

You can talk to us at Me Learning about any development and training needs you might want to implement to develop this crucial service.

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