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Way Ahead Care, a family run business, provides homecare and support to adults of all ages and disabilities to ensure their independence is maintained. Providing services in Bath and the Taunton Deane and Sedgemoor areas of Somerset, they pride themselves on the level of care and support they provide, particularly in designing services for Direct Payments or those with a Personal Budget.
In addition to their direct provision of care and support services Way Ahead Care is commissioned by Local Authorities to deliver specialist services to meet specific needs or demands. These include an Independent Living Team in Taunton, providing immediate care and support services for those requiring assistance at home upon discharge from hospital, and Out of Hours Service in partnership with Taunton Deane Borough Council and the CCG preventing un-necessary hospital and residential care admissions. In addition they have their own training division “Step Ahead Training”. Way Ahead Care has evidenced its commitment to training and workforce development through its activities and continual ‘Investors in People’ recognition.
Way Ahead Care were part of second phase of the VBRT, starting their participation in November 2013, and since then have produced 188 PPQ reports, these were used with specific teams and all applicants for care positions. The focussed work with two teams aimed to improve their team working within and between the teams. Belinda Lock, Way Ahead Care’s Director of Training and Workforce described to the Evaluator the purpose of the two teams in their domiciliary care division:
Firstly their ‘Process’ Team who, as a team of care co-ordinators, operate a planning function, allocating staff to service users, setting up staff rotas and producing ‘blue prints’ for the forthcoming weeks’ operational shifts.
Secondly the ‘Duty Team’ who manage the blue print delivery in its actual week of operation, for example making adjustments to the allocation plans based on staff sickness/leave, changes to service user requirements and response in adverse weather conditions. This team works under high pressure, making tough decisions around service user hours at a fast pace. It is within this team, Duty team, that Way Ahead Care was experiencing retention and absenteeism issues.
Belinda explained they needed to do some ground work before they could identify and take forward solutions. They compared the profile of a worker within the Process Team with one of a Duty Team worker prior to reviewing their approach to recruitment. The VBRT enabled them to refine their approach to recruitment.
The profiles highlighted key areas of difference between a process worker role and that of one in the Duty team. For example : the teams work at a very different pace, a worker in the Process team works at a steady and consistent pace whereas the Duty worker has to deal with a high level of pressure and is decision making at a fast pace on a continuous basis throughout the day. This means the Duty worker needs to be able to respond well to challenges and be resilient to constant change.
Belinda fed back that “having an understanding and greater awareness of the role profiles has helped us make more informed decisions”. Having already moved away from the use of external recruitment agencies they recognised that recruitment and development of internal applicants yielded a higher retention rate. Having a greater understanding of the worker profile gave them the opportunity to further refine their internal approach to the retention issue. Key areas of success have been through using their internal vacancies “talent pipeline” to grow their own co-ordinators as they are more familiar with the business, its ways of working and therefore more resilient with the company itself.
With the use of the VBRT PPQ they have been able to use the opportunity to better match internal staff to the co-ordinators role profiles. They found this approach complimented what would of otherwise have been subjective recruitment judgements and enabled them to refine their training and development plans. This ensured that their programmes offered support where it was most needed. Whilst it is still early days their plan appears to be working with duty workers showing signs of better managing the high pressure role from the outset.
Belinda explained how they have also been using the PPQ as part of the induction stage for all care staff. Way Ahead new recruits start their development from the first day of employment and take part in a two week training programme before they move into the workplace. This allows time for their behaviour and practice to be developed and observed and for the provision of development advice. Sections from the VBRT were used as a component of their interview process, recruitment and early development plans.
Overall, Belinda reports that although Way Ahead Care have taken a cautious approach to embedding the VBRT it has made a “strong impact” on their retention programme and provides a complimentary approach, ratifying what would otherwise be subjective recruitment judgements.