Charity promotes wellbeing, strives for excellence, treats people with respect and keeps everyone safe

Friends of the Elderly, the charity which runs care homes, day care centres and home care services throughout England, has been hosting a series of employee workshops to discover, and put into action, how it can deliver better support and improve wellbeing in the workplace for all its teams.

The feedback from the workshops has led to the creation of the Friends of the Elderly’s Wellbeing Pledge, which outlines the charity’s ethos, values and future plans to ensure its team’s workplace wellbeing.

Commenting on the Wellbeing Pledge, Friends of the Elderly’s Head of Human Resources, Matthew Yates said: “The employee workshops gave us a great and valuable insight into our most important asset – our teams – on where they feel they need more support, training and guidance. We rely heavily on the experience, skills and talents of our employees and volunteers and need to ensure they have everything they need to continue to deliver an exceptional level of care to all our residents and service users.”

The wellbeing of its teams is the charity’s top priority and it works to achieve this by keeping everyone safe and respecting everyone’s needs albeit physical, emotional, mental and occupational. Through the Wellbeing Pledge, the charity hopes to underpin its respectful and safe environment which provides a space to share experiences and learn from each other.

The Wellbeing Pledge is based on the VIPS Framework developed by the Association for Dementia Studies, led by Professor Dawn Brooker at the University of Worcester, which promotes person-centred care.

Matthew continued: “The VIPS Framework has helped us to construct and support the Wellbeing Pledge. V refers to a Values base that asserts the absolute of all human lives regardless of age or cognitive ability. I is an Individualised approach which recognises everyone’s uniqueness. P is understanding the world from the Perspective of our residents and services users; and S provides a Social environment which Supports psychological needs. When these elements are brought together, they are a powerful approach for us to support and value everybody.

“By valuing everyone, we are reinforcing our culture where everyone is valued, feels safe and supported. It demonstrates how Friends of the Elderly treats its teams and volunteers in the same way that it treats all our service users.”

To achieve its aims, the charity has ensured it is inclusive and diverse in its approach. It is committed to promoting equal opportunities and treatment regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.

Jessica Stone, Friends of the Elderly’s Head of Marketing and Communications added: “Our objective is to become an employer of choice. We are continuously improving, developing and learning to make sure we are always inclusive and continue to promote cultural awareness.”

The charity has also adapted social psychologist, Tom Kitwood’s, ‘Flower’ which identifies the fundamental psychological and social human needs which must be met for everyone in order to maintain a good sense of wellbeing.

By adopting the five-petal flower model, Friends of the Elderly has additionally pledged to be committed to its team’s Identity, Occupation, Inclusion, Attachment and Comfort. This has led to the charity creating a refreshed wellbeing package that encompasses staff development opportunities, recognition, supporting mental health at work and focuses on inclusion, diversity and what is most important to each of its team members.

Jessica continued: “We are committed to treating everyone with respect and supporting their specific needs by being an understanding and flexible organisation. We provide individual training and opportunities for personal, vocational, and professional development, reflecting people’s individual interests and skills as well as celebrating their achievements.

“We want to ensure that everyone who works within Friends of the Elderly is supported in their work and has the right tools and support to ensure they feel valued. We recognise good practice and how important it is to reward people when they go above and beyond in their roles. By communicating openly and inclusively with all our colleagues and providing a space for everyone to share good practice, is key to people being happy and fulfilled at work.”

Work is important, but wellbeing is about finding a work-life balance, so Friends of the Elderly is committed to increasing its work-based benefits package to ensure that everyone is able to make the most of time with friends and families. Caring for others is so important as well as rewarding; however, it can also be very challenging and put a strain on mental health and wellbeing. The charity recognises this and has made it a priority to ensure that its teams feel safe in their roles, and their mental and physical wellbeing is looked after.

Support systems are in place to make sure that no one goes unnoticed if they are struggling, as well as training more individuals to provide psychological and mental health first aid, so that the tools are in place for additional support. Matthew concluded: “At the centre of the Kitwood Flower is the need to be loved and to love someone. These are extraordinary and unprecedented times, the likes of which none of us have ever faced before. They are scary and very present in our workplaces. Being loved and accepted is part of the human need for survival, from when we were born. Love can range from loving a person, an activity or a favourite food, to loving a god and feeling self-love. We cannot manufacture love, but we can support all our teams by laying the foundations to meet their needs.

“Our Wellbeing Pledge is just the first step in our wellbeing journey as an organisation and these are our commitments to our valued teams.”