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Rebuilding the basics of employee conditions

Care home group, Renaissance Care, has implemented a full review following interviews with staff at each of its 16 homes as it looks to overhaul the traditional operations across care home sector. Here, Louise Barnett, Managing Director, tells us more about the changes and why they are necessary not only for Renaissance Care but for the wider care sector too.

In recent years the world of work has changed at a rate that is, for lack of a better word, unprecedented. More people are working from home or adhering to new hybrid working policies, while many have looked to a complete career change following the pandemic as they look for a role that gives them more purpose or provides a better work/life balance.

In the care sector in particular, staff have been fighting against coronavirus for two long years. They are tired and overwhelmed with the challenges they have faced. They have been the lifeline for residents and families, providing care, support, connectivity and a shoulder to cry on. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that sector-wide we are experiencing a mass resignation. Care staff are considering what the future of the industry looks like, how that relates to their own career and whether the good parts of the job outweigh the challenges.

It was recently reported by Skills for Care that vacancy roles within social care have increased by 10% this month alone. Of course, this is not dissimilar to other sectors that are combating huge increases in turnover on the back of the pandemic. However, if we are to combat this within the care sector it is absolutely crucial that we revisit how we operate care homes across the country. That is why, as we look towards recovery and the future of social care, we have gone back to the drawing board to map out how the sector can properly reflect the needs and wants of staff.

Identifying the issues

We want to create an industry that is supportive of work/life balance and encourages an environment where staff feel valued and nurtured within their career.

To achieve this, we are putting staff at the core of a host of changes and, following interviews with all roles within the business, we are revamping traditional operations across the homes – something we hope will be replicated by our colleagues in the industry. Unsurprisingly, surveys and liaison with staff across the homes revealed that, after two years on the front line protecting our country’s most vulnerable, staff were feeling tired and suggested some positive initiatives for changes across the group to help with this. Staff were mainly interested in feeling seen, having their efforts valued and a better work/life balance.

We are a person-centred organisation at Renaissance Care and believe that to provide high-quality care for our residents, it is essential we ensure job satisfaction for staff, with individual care and progression plans that suit their needs as an employee. Therefore, we listened carefully to the survey results and have already introduced four-day weeks and flexible working patterns to allow our staff to work shifts which suit them based on their preferences and home life commitments, as well as a 5% salary increase across all roles in the business.

Moving away from the historical five days a week and 12-hour shift pattern for staff will make a career in the care sector so much more accessible to those whose family life may not have been compatible previously. It also gives us a chance to hold on to more experienced staff who are nearing retirement by offering a condensed workload to fit better with their own capabilities.

Making the change

As I said, the world of work has changed. Since the pandemic, people are less likely to take on a role which may sacrifice their mental wellbeing or personal goals. Not only is this something we want to encourage, but by making this an industry standard we will be able to retain and attract the best care professionals out there.

The staff survey showed us that as part of this, staff wanted more fluid and modern operational systems, as well as space for our care teams to connect, take part in further learning opportunities and foster a positive culture between staff.

As a result, we have not only invested in the staff rooms across the group but have also kicked off a project to promote inclusivity and security among our workforce. The project will see Renaissance Care supply sanitary items for female staff in all our facilities, as well as becoming a menopause-friendly workplace with plans to roll out training for staff later this year and will ensure an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ staff and residents with an understanding that identities can be complex.

We have also introduced a health and wellbeing package which includes free access to danceSing for all staff members – encouraging health and wellbeing through fitness classes with a saving of £400 per year for each individual. As an industry, it has taken too long for us to align our world of work with the rest of the business world. And although the pandemic set us back in so many ways, it has given us a golden opportunity to change things up and present a fresh business perspective which will benefit those in our employment, and hopefully, much further afield.

True culture change happens when it comes from the core, and when the behaviours, beliefs and mindsets change at every level of the business. I am pleased that Renaissance Care is driving this change, but I am most proud that we have been able to work with our staff to ensure that the changes we do instil are meaningful and will truly make a difference to their lives, as well as those of our residents.

Louise Barnett is Managing Director at Renaissance Care. Email:

About Louise Barnett

Louise has worked in care for over 30 years, beginning her career as a nurse. The working mum was soon recognised for her drive and commitment.
Louise started work with Renaissance Care in late 2018 as managing director. Her vision was clear and simple – treat people right and provide them with the support and tools to deliver great care. This ethos has been welcomed and matched by Renaissance Care which has utilised Louise’s experience to build a better culture and environment for staff and residents.
As operations director, Louise was acknowledged for her contribution to business and care with numerous award wins, including Outstanding Contribution to Business at the Woman Ahead Business awards in 2016, and National Care Awards – Operations Director of the Year (2016).

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