Caring for carers: practical ways to make a difference
Russell Pillar, director of care interiors at Spearhead Healthcare, advises how the right equipment and training makes a huge difference – to staff, residents and families…
All of us are aware that the care sector is burgeoning as our elderly population continues to rise. In fact, the Office for National Statistics has predicted a 36% growth in people aged 85+ between 2015 and 2025, up to 2million, and this is expected to lead to even higher demand for care home services.
Providing this care is of course reliant on carers, which means attracting and retaining staff is crucial to the sector. However, here there is a growing challenge, with some 110,000 vacancies in England’s adult social care sector at any given time and a 30.7% average annual staff turnover, according to Skills for Care.
Outstanding staff care, outstanding resident care
It’s unfortunately a common story in CQC inspection reports to see comments about carers being too busy to spend quality time with residents. Also, figures from the Heath and Safety Executive (HSE) show that carers have a higher than average risk of developing issues such as work-related musculoskeletal disorders and stress.
While care of residents is always foremost, the sector is becoming more aware of the challenges and risks the workforce encounters when fulfilling their duties – and the clear link between well-supported carers and the delivery of outstanding levels of care.
So what can be done on a practical level to support carers and raise overall standards?
Choose the right equipment
In a highly physical job, having the right equipment in place is vital to free up more of carers’ time to spend engaging meaningfully with residents, and also helps to minimise injury risks.
Beds that are adjustable in height for example, such as profiling care beds, help reduce the risk of back injuries. Sometimes a low bed is necessary, of course, but homes can opt for specially designed beds that rise to the same height as a standard profiling bed, such as Spearhead’s Encore Low Bed.
Providing the right moving and handling equipment such as hoists and slings in the bathroom, and by beds and chairs, will also help to ensure carers are able to move people safely and securely. Equally, the likes of toilet surrounds and seat aids help everyone by enabling residents to be less reliant on assistance.
Don’t neglect staff training
We offer a fit-out and room-placement service for care homes, which involves taking the furniture into the building, unwrapping, positioning and fixing it in place as required. While this saves handling by staff and ensures that everything is installed properly, it is not a substitute for training staff in how to lift objects safely. All staff should receive training in lifting and moving people and objects with everyone’s safety in mind.
When it comes to the vital matter of cleaning, certain chemicals may be necessary to kill harmful bacteria and viruses, but they can often be dangerous themselves if not used correctly. Training in what products to use, and how to do so safely, is absolutely essential. For precisely this reason we are seeing increasing demand for our Platinum Plan cleaning system that comes with detailed cleaning routines and wall charts, with every item is colour-coded for its purpose.
Retaining good staff is central to providing high standards of consistent care, as well as complying with regulations and passing inspections with flying colours. Based on our 30 years’ experience as a supplier to the care sector, we can certainly testify to the inextricable link between the health, safety and quality of life of carers and those they care for.