What the survey found
It was discovered that over half of care home employees were unsatisfied with the reporting system in place at the care home they worked at. This was in sharp contrast with care home owners, who all stated that they were happy with their current whistleblowing policies. This is a worrying trend, as it shows a disparity between employees and owners on how comfortable they are with internal reporting systems, which can create staff friction in your care home.
The survey also found that 50% of care home employees would feel more comfortable reporting an issue if it was through an independent reporting system, whereas 75% of owners did not see a need. Once again, this exposes a matter of difference happening between the experiences of employees and owners in the care sector in England.
Interestingly, the study found that, when reporting a problem, a carer’s primary concern was with ensuring that the issue was dealt with, followed by concerns over keeping their job.
The benefits of understanding your employee’s experiences
Your staff’s first-hand experiences in the day-to-day happenings at your care home leave them well placed to offer guidance as to how any decisions you take may work in practice as what is going wrong in the care home. We do find that taking on board your employees’ concerns will help to promote a more positive workspace which in turn could improve your residents’ care. In the end, a happy workforce are going to be more willing to go above and beyond than a workforce who feel neglected.
Where we’ve seen problems
When we’re approached by care homes who are struggling with a lot of safeguarding/whistleblowing issues we often find that the issues come down to a lack of communication between management and ownership with staff on the floor.
The staff often feel their concerns are falling on deaf ears and no action is taken to address their concerns. There lose trust in the internal whistle blowing policy and start to call third parties within the care sector such as the Local Authority safeguarding team or the CQC.
How to have positive reporting systems within your care home
If you think your care home might have problems in regard to its reporting systems and ensuring that changes are properly implemented, here are a few tips:
- Choose a reporting system that works for your care home: Whether it’s independent or managed internally, you need to consider what is going to work best for your home. Ultimately, your reporting system is going to be at the heart of your ability to learn about any concerns your staff may have. This can be vital for nipping issues in the bud before they develop into larger problems that might be picked up on by the CQC. Ensure there is a way to make complaints anonymously internally directly and to someone above the manager of the home.
- Take action: investigate staff concerns thoroughly and take remedial action. Don’t wait until a second concern/complaint is raised.
- Effective communication: Having effective channels of communication is essential in promoting trust between yourself and your staff as well as improving the staff’s trust in the Issue/concern reporting system. Tell the complainant (if known) what is being done to address the concern. Reassure them that they will not be penalised for highlighting genuine concerns that could have a serious impact for residents, staff and the home.
- Be open and transparent – tell staff when things go wrong and how you are going to fix them. Take the entire staff team on board the improvement journey following a genuine concern raised about your care home. Announce the changes you plan to make to ensure the concerns don’t reoccur.
- Implement changes with caution: If you’re going to be making changes to systems and working practices at your care home, we recommend a three-pronged approach. Firstly, you need to ensure that management are on board with your decisions, as this will ensure a more favourable reaction to new approaches. Secondly, entrust certain members of staff to ‘champion’ your projects and be accessible for other employees to bring their queries to. Finally, invest in the care sector training if needed to successfully implement the changes
- Training: If you overlook the importance of staff training when implementing a change within your care home, confusion may spread between the carers and ultimately become unreceptive to the intended programme.
- Ask for feedback – encourage staff to provide feedback on the response to their concerns and closely monitor progress that all concerns have been addressed and targeted outcomes achieved.
If you would like expert advice on reporting systems, or in promoting better collaboration between yourself and your staff, please get in touch.