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The best care for miles on the Isles

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Care and support, Communities, Recruitment

At the end of the summer, I was privileged to visit the adult social care team on the Isles of Scilly. Scilly was the only local authority I had yet to visit, so it marked a personal achievement for me since becoming Chief Social Worker for Adults in 2013.

They have experienced particular challenges in recruiting staff to social care services. However, the approaches they have adopted have been successful - quite an achievement given the geographical and demographic issues their location presents.

Aisling Khan, Scilly’s Director of Adult Social Services agreed to write this short guest blog about the recruitment and retention difficulties they faced and the solutions they found to overcome them.

Aisling Khan - head shotAisling: “On the Isles of Scilly we have seen effective use of the Improved Better Care Fund (IBCF) allocation towards developing the key priority of Enhanced Health in Care Homes.

The Council of the Isles of the Scilly directly provides residential and domiciliary care services as the size of the resident population does not support a sustainable private sector market.

The national picture for the recruitment and retention of a high-quality care workforce is obviously of significant concern. It is only heightened on Scilly with a small available working population, alternative and attractive employment opportunities offered by a visitor economy and the high cost of housing.

In March 2018, these recruitment issues and the significant number of vacant care hours meant that the Park House care home faced closure, with the prospect of often frail adults with highly complex needs being relocated to care homes on the mainland (28 miles away).

Research frequently shows that without a well-trained, permanent workforce, the risks to safe care significantly increase.

Action was needed, not least because of the was considerable community concern and media coverage.

The IBCF allocation (c£50k) was invested in a market forces supplement to enhance pay for care workers. This, coupled with a new approach to recruitment, partnership with housing providers to free up affordable housing for care workers, and a successful funding application for training investment, means that 12 months later the service is now fully recruited. Not only has Park House remained open, it has gone from strength to strength.

The service recently won the Outstanding Nursing/Residential Care Team of the Year award at the Cornwall Adult Health and Social Care Awards and BBC Spotlight came back to the islands to do a follow up story of the turnaround. An additional five people have gained NVQ Health and Social Care qualifications (30% of FTE workforce).

More recently, the Park House team were inspected by the CQC and I’m pleased to report were rated ‘Good’ in all relevant categories.

Lyn Romeo with Aisling and her colleagues
I had a great time visiting Aisling and her team. I hope to return soon to hear more about their work

The investment in a high-quality workforce means that staff have been able to focus on service improvement.

This has included the development of an integrated service with local health professionals such as medicine reviews with the local pharmacy, a new pathway round nutrition and hydration and new flexible step up/step down services to support people to remain independent in their own homes and prevent carer breakdown.

Work is now underway with funding from One Public Estate to develop a single service/single estate solution with primary care, Community Health and Adult Social Care under the auspices of Shaping our Future, the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly STP."

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