Home care teams work hard all year round, but at certain times the pressure really ramps up. Facilitating staff holidays during the summer and over Christmas are two particularly tight pinch-points for most home care agencies and can put extra strain on the whole team.
Here are 5 tried and tested tips for boosting and maintaining your home care team’s morale during busy times.
1. Remind carers that they’re appreciated
Small gestures can go a long way in helping your team feel seen and appreciated. Simply acknowledging that care professionals are under more strain than usual and thanking them for their hard work can make a big difference. You could even give a little bonus or gift to show your appreciation; perhaps a new coffee machine for the staff room, gift vouchers, or allowing carers to take turns finishing work early when the chance arises.
2. Respect holidays and annual leave
Employees who get proper rest and family time can return to work feeling refreshed and focused. Interrupting annual leave can lead to resentment and could even cause a rift between managers and the care team.
Put contingency plans in place, so you don’t need to call people back in when staffing is low. For example, keep a list of carers who are happy to step in at short notice and build links with a local care staffing agency you can call on in emergencies.
Some carers might want to take on extra shifts, so before someone goes off on leave, check whether they’re open to being contacted if you’re short (and respect their wishes if they say no :).
3. Plan for unexpected events
Working in home care, you know to always expect the unexpected!
Last-minute problems can be extra stressful when you’re already stretched to capacity. Make sure you have robust plans in place to deal with issues like staff absences or a sudden workload increase. As mentioned above - working with a home care staffing agency that can provide carers at short notice can be a lifesaver during busy periods. A solid long-term recruitment and retention strategy is a must, to help you avoid a staffing crisis when you’re already under pressure. (Read more about care recruitment here.)
4. Continue to support learning and development
It can be tempting to cancel all training during busy periods, but with careful planning, try to free up carers to attend if at all possible. Supporting employees in their career progression shows them that you value their job satisfaction and are committed to helping them reach their full potential. Of course, the benefits work both ways - a skilled workforce delivers better quality care and can accommodate clients with more complex needs.
You could also create a progression pathway to help motivate carers during busy times, with clear goals and rewards for hitting targets.
5. Check in with carers regularly
Nurturing a trusting relationship between managers and care professionals helps avoid a ‘them and us’ dynamic and encourages everyone to pull together during busy periods. Arrange regular 1:1 catch-ups with each team member, so you can see how they are doing and give them the opportunity to share any concerns or worries. You could also hold a team social once a month so that carers can catch up with one another as well as the management team. Bring in fancy cakes or a glass of something fizzy to make it more of an informal social event.
Ultimately, the best way to get through challenging or busy times is to plan ahead, be organised and have efficient processes. Birdie provides an all-in-one software solution that makes staffing, rota planning and HR a breeze - so you can feel in control, all the time.
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