The importance of professionalizing the service and providing a clear career pathway for carers

Janet Bill | Director of Nursing and Care - Sodexo

About this episode

Janet Bill, Director of Nursing and Care across four home care providers, discusses the staffing issues and shortages in the industry and emphasizes the importance of professionalizing the service and providing a clear career pathway for carers.

Episode Transcript

Hello, my name's Janet Bill, i’m the director of Nursing and Care and I work across four home care providers.

Carers are considered heroes if you ask the patients. They deal with very important matter and still we see a huge staffing issue and shortages today. What do you think causes those issues?

I think it's how we portray the role of the carer and there's been a lot in the press and from a home care association point of view about professionalizing the service.

So I think there was a lot of damage done when we say that people are unskilled because they're not unskilled.
If you think of what they do day to day and the number of tasks that they have to deliver, the things they need to understand and know. So they're definitely not an unskilled workforce.

But I think because that message is portrayed as being unskilled, that doesn't give a person
who wants to go into care an incentive actually, they look at it, they don't see a career pathway, they don't see the opportunities that they're all out there in social care.
And so potentially they look at other opportunities. Looking at the NHS or maybe other opportunities where they think that there's a better career pathway for them.

Six out of ten complains of carers or around internal communication
with the organization. How can we better retain those carers? What methods and what tools?

Really for me it's all around culture, it's around communication is making sure that they feel that they actually belong to a company, that we want them, that their views are really, really important.

So especially in the first 60 to 90 days, where they're unsure of the company, they don't know the systems. It's really important that we have some sort of mentoring systems and buddying system that we have a way of communicating to them, that we give them a channel that they can call in if they've got an issue.

So that's all around having a sort of an on-call system or a support system just so that if there are any worries in those first 90 days, they don't sit there and think about them, that they actually know that they can call up or that somebody is going to reach out to them.

We've got a budding system, so we will have an experienced carer who is allocated to that carer
at the end of their training and that they then buddy up with them and support them for the next three months.

That enables them to be able to ask any questions. They're talking to a carer that knows the business, that understands how we work and that can just give them some advice and guidance.

You do two things one, you give them the mentorship that they need, but also you show that there is a room to grow in the company, right?
You're creating a career path for them and promoting them. Is that the approach?

Yeah, absolutely. I think it's really important that they see that there is a pathway, there is a career pathway in the business.

We're digital in our businesses and so therefore we've got forums as well, so the carers can use the forums as an opportunity to ask questions, to learn to do additional training, additional learning as well.

So again, I think that makes the person feel part of the business, part of the culture of the business and is an area for retention.

Do you think every franchisee or every home care provider should implement technology?
And if so, what would be the first technology they should put their eyes on?

I do think they should implement technology. I suppose for me, the technology needs
to have the user and the carer at the heart. So what are we trying to deliver?

And for me, it's around improving the quality of the service that we're delivering, so some times, I think technology is implemented to solve a problem or to do a task.
So for example, you put a rostering system in just to make rostering quicker and more efficient,
but actually it's just one dimensional. Whereas if you actually look at implementing a system that's going to improve the quality of the service that you deliver across all areas, that's the best way of putting digital into your business.

How can business owner or care provider can also foster positive culture?
How we can examine it and actually execute it? So people like to come to work and they feel belong to something bigger?

Making sure that the culture that you've got goes from the top to the bottom. All of your leaders have got to have the same values, the same vision for the business, and making sure
that that is implemented all the way down.

I think from a carers point of view that they feel that their voice matters, their views matter,
their opinions matter, that they are introduced to the senior members of the team at early days.
So they don't feel that they can't ask the managing director any questions directly.

What would be your key tip to new franchisors and your business owners that want to start their way in the home care industry?

Make sure that quality is at the heart of what you do.
Obviously, we need to bring in money from a revenue point of view, but I would suggest you need to have a really good culture, really strong values and quality has got to be at the center of what you do.