A care home group in the South East, Forest Healthcare, has pledged to fight an industry-wide reputation for poor pay and conditions with a commitment to salaries above the living wage and career development packages via their Talent Strategy to attract and retain a higher calibre of carers and staff.
Forest Healthcare, which has 13 homes across the South East of England, has implemented the pledge for all care home workers across its homes.
“We are part of an industry that relies on bringing in committed, reliable and caring people to look after the most vulnerable people in our society – the elderly and those living with dementia and other disabilities – and yet, our sector has one of the worst reputations for paying minimum wage for an incredibly hard job.” comments chief executive of Forest Healthcare, Paul Musgrave. “Having been a carer myself I know that in our homes, the best staff are the ones who stay and live our vision and values – they bring an aspirational level of commitment and care for our residents, and that is what we want across all of our homes.”
The pledge comes at a time when a national debate rages over squeezes on local authority funding for social care whilst costs for providers are rising all the time.
“There is a false economy in paying low wages, as this brings with it increased absence and difficulties in filling roles – which consequently necessitates higher costs for agency staff. We would much rather pay those premiums paid to agencies when temporary staff are used to our hard-working staff, and work closely with our managers across the group to find creative ways of achieving this,” adds Paul.
The move is part of a programme of culture change across Forest Healthcare homes, which has seen three of its homes achieve the coveted Outstanding rating from the Care Quality Commission. The programme builds communities within its homes based on common interests between residents and staff, and uses innovative and creative activities and events in partnership with such organisations as Ladder To The Moon and The Centre for Creativity and Innovation in Care to stimulate and improve the quality of life of those living in our homes.
“In our country, we’ve got an aging population so the need for care is going to grow – and we must do whatever we can to create a sustainable system of high quality care and support. This inevitably means investing in our staff, and offering them career development pathways so that they stay and keep their knowledge and experience in this sector,” adds Paul. “As a relatively small provider, we have the flexibility to pioneer new approaches, and hopefully demonstrate long-term benefits that will improve outcomes for everyone in the sector and nurture the amazing people who work for us and we work for.”