From the outset, Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust’s (JRHT) main priority has always been the health, safety and well-being of both staff and residents. It was important that staff felt valued, safe and cared for during the extremely difficult times ahead.
Like many care providers, JRHT experienced three outbreaks within its services, which put increased emotional pressure on staff. The care management team identified that a proactive approach to supporting staff was required on top of the usual management support. Normalising seeking and receiving support. As a direct result of this experience two new Employee Support Programmes were introduced.
Our Head of Health & Safety led the setup of a proactive ‘Outreach Programme’ and supportive service of ‘Listening Ears’; these services were staffed by team members who weren’t front line service delivery and who volunteered from across Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust and Corporate Services.
Both the Outreach Programme and Listening Ears were established to recognise the emotional support staff needed to continue to deliver front line care services in a compassionate and caring manner.
- Outreach Programme – on occasions our care services were impacted by Coronavirus when this happened every member of staff was called by a member of the Outreach Programme team. The volunteers were always on standby to provide emotional support for colleagues who were working across our care services.
- Listening Ears – during the pandemic, managers, deputies, team seniors and nurses played a vital role in supporting colleagues as well as family members and relatives. It was important that these colleagues were also supported. In early April, a 24-hour support line was established.
In addition, staff were provided with free access to an online health & wellbeing hub which housed lots of useful resources from apps to help you sleep, meditation and healthy and nutritious recipes.
It was equally important to keep our staff and residents safe from the threat of the virus. The Care Management Team (CMT) immediately identified that one of the most effective ways of fighting the virus and protecting residents and staff was through rigorous infection controls and clarity regards the many messages which were coming from staff.
The care team devised an Infection control competency for all staff and also created both a video and a vlog to get these messages across. This went hand in hand with the priority that staff had access to suitable PPE, with a focus on staff training, to ensure the right equipment was in the right place, at the right time.
A dedicated procurement team was already in existence and this team was redeployed to focus solely on PPE. Throughout the pandemic, staff always had access to PPE, distributed from a newly created central hub via local distribution networks and using housing and maintenance staff to deliver this equipment locally to care sites.
In a recent staff survey, we asked staff if they believed that appropriate precautions had been made to keep them safe at work during the Coronavirus crisis. 85% of respondents agreed that appropriate precautions were in place to keep them safe.