Fostering team spirit and flexibility could reduce care home staff turnover

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I love my jobSeventeen employees in the same Sussex nursing home have notched up nearly 250 years’ care experience.

The staff at Patcham Nursing Home, just outside Brighton on the edge of the South Downs, include nurses, cleaners, care assistants, and a chef, with a combined service of 241 years.

The home says the factors which it has identified could provide valuable pointers to a solution to the national care and nursing home crisis in recruiting and retaining quality staff.

Staff turnover in care homes averages 21%, nationally well above the UK average across all workplaces of 14.6%.

Patcham’s registered manager Sheila Kidd said: “We employ 41 staff and having so many who have chosen to stay for so long is down to a number of factors.  “Firstly, we’ve endeavoured to foster a strong team spirit, secondly we’re able to be flexible so people can work shifts that suit them, and thirdly, for many of our staff, we’re only a few minutes’ walk away from their home.

“Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we’ve worked hard to create a family atmosphere. Our staff retention statistics prove we’ve achieved this.”

Activities co-ordinator Angela Jones and laundry supervisor Lesley Knight are the longest serving with 24 years’ each.

Nurse Diann Knight has been at the home for 22 years, and most of the others have worked there for between 10 and 20 years.

Lesley Knight, 59, has been at Patcham since the day it opened in 1991, she has worked as a care assistant, cleaner, in the kitchen, and now as a laundry supervisor.

She said: “I was working at another care home, and I remember seeing the advert in the paper, and it was just round the corner.

“I had two young children so it was very handy. Patcham is a great place to work and my daughter went on to work here later!”

Angela Jones, previously a nurse at the former Bevendean Hospital in Brighton, joined the home when she returned to work after having a baby.

Also living close by, she was asked to stay on as an activities co-ordinator when she retired from nursing.

“It’s actually such a wonderful environment to work in that I miss it when I’m holiday.”

“I’m 69 now and I plan to retire next year. The residents keep me young and active, and I like to feel I do the same for them.”

The benefits of staff long service were highlighted in research by Skills For Care in 2013.

More experienced carers provide superior care, and know residents’ needs better while managers can match their strengths and interests to the residents’ needs more effectively.

The report said staff stayed longer where employers have good communication, training, approachable managers and involve workers in decisions such as rotas.

It also highlighted how often staff said their workplaces felt like “one big family”, showing a supportive and friendly environment.

Patcham Nursing Home, which is managed by Montreux Living, is centred on the historic Eastwick Barn, which dates back to 1296, and has been painstakingly restored to keep its original character.

The home also keeps a coop of chickens in its garden, and residents take part in daily workshop and social activities seven days a week such as singing, exercise, films, and themed events as well being provided hairdressing and chiropody.

After a recent inspection, the Care Quality Commission praised Patcham’s staff for their caring attitude and treating residents with “dignity, compassion and respect”.

Mark Goodman, Healthcare CEO of the Montreux Group, said: “It’s wonderful that Patcham seems to have found the solution to a pervasive problem in the care industry, and is such a highly-regarded place to work. Yes, this is good for the staff, but importantly it’s also highly beneficial for residents to have experienced, caring people who know each of them well.”

A 2015 National Care Forum report showed staff turnover in care homes averages 21%, well above the national average of 14.6%. About 60% of the staff who leave have worked for their employer for less than two years.

The full list of long-serving Patcham Nursing Home staff:

– Activities organiser Angela Jones: 24 years – Laundry Supervisor Lesley Knight: 24 years – Nurse Diann Knight: 22 years – Chef Cheryl Anscombe: 20 years – Cleaner Helen Knight: 15 years – Healthcare Assistant Linda Wright: 15 years – Activities coordinator Alida Moon: 14 years – Healthcare Assistant Toni Newland: 14 years – Healthcare Assistant Maggie Dyke: 12 years

– Cleaner Angela Ford: 11 years – Cleaner Asha Sewoogolam: 9 years – Healthcare Assistant Nicky Nye: 9 years – Healthcare Assistant Donna Dale: 8 years – Healthcare Assistant Sharon Lewis: 8 years – Healthcare Assistant Anni Toth: 7 years – Chris Newan (13 years) – Justine Taylor (6.5 years) – Gemma Teale (10 years)

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