It is in the nature of a crisis to bring out the best of people and we have seen this time and time again from the stories of people who have been working in care and support roles during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The public is finally more informed about the care sector and there have been many stories of those who have gone above and beyond to look after the most vulnerable in society. As people lose their jobs in other sectors – retail, hospitality, aviation – there is an opportunity for the sector to grasp their talents and encourage them to consider a role in care.
Many are not aware that there are career pathways in care and it is a real challenge to show that the opportunities for career progression are there. The not-for-profit care and support sector has a strong history of investing in its workforce – and the National Care Forum (NCF) Rising Stars programme was designed to do exactly that.
Each year, the NCF Rising Stars programme brings together 10 registered managers – acknowledged by their organisations to be shining lights – and invests in their skills to help them develop into the next generation of sector leaders. The annual programme provides a year of mentoring, activities and events aimed at professional development, all delivered by key NCF partners.
Kicking off at the NCF Annual Conference 2019, Shaping the Agenda for Great Care, the most recent cohort of NCF Rising Stars were inspired by the enterprising stories from Paul Gaudin. A serial entrepreneur since the age of 22, Paul launched Care Rooms in 2017, and delivered an interesting and thought-provoking session. The following day, the cohort had the unique opportunity to meet with Sue Howard, Deputy Chief Inspector for Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission (CQC), where they shared their perspectives on care and support on the frontline and gained valuable insight into CQC.
At the conference, the NCF Rising Stars also benefited from the expertise and knowledge shared by the team at apetito by participating in a workshop on diet, nutrition and dysphasia plus, new for last year’s group, a focus on ethics and sustainability.
In July 2019, the then Minister of State for Care, Caroline Dinenage, hosted the NCF Rising Stars at her offices in the Houses of Parliament. Following a tour, they spent time with the Minister sharing their first-hand experiences and views as future leaders of the sector, and explaining some of the challenges in the sector.
September saw the launch of the Road Worlds for Seniors championship, an exciting global initiative aimed at getting seniors active. It is run by Motitech whose specially adapted bike, Motiview, is a motivational tool aimed at stimulating older people and people with dementia to be more physically and cognitively active. Through the NCF Rising Star Programme, Motitech reached out to care homes across the NCF membership, installing bikes for residents to participate in the championship. One of these was Cherry Garth, a Fremantle Trust care home, which NCF Rising Star, Kelly Hartley manages.
Vic Rayner, NCF Executive Director joined Kelly alongside Stian Lavik, Chief Business Officer at Motitech to host the launch of the Road Worlds for Seniors championship. This year, 194 teams signed up from countries across the world, including Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Australia, Canada and the UK. In total, the homes cycled the impressive distance of 108,412km during the 25-day competition.
Technology plays a huge part in care, and Person Centred Software (PCS) hosted a special event for the Rising Stars, diving into key technologies. Sessions included electronic evidencing, delivered by PCS; streamlining care co-ordination, responses and delivery, delivered by Ascom; using artificial intelligence for pain management, delivered by PainChek; and improving safety with electronic medicines management, presented by Invatech.
Rebecca Ogujor, Home Manager of Holt House, Salvation Army, said, ‘It was a great day, we are just about to transfer to digital care planning software, so the Technology Day was perfectly timed for me.’
In February this year, just before lockdown, the Rising Stars visited Altura Learning at their studios in Milton Keynes. Altura provided dedicated training on different situations that care and support managers might find themselves in every day, as well as when speaking with the media. This gave them an understanding of how they present themselves, successfully communicate, improve their customer service skills and build their confidence in difficult situations.
Kelly Hartley said, ‘We interview and are interviewed everyday – you don’t realise how often you use these techniques.’
The cohort continued to communicate through WhatsApp as the pandemic reached a peak. Never has it been so vital to share experiences and knowledge – what worked well and what didn’t – and moral support through the challenging times. In the meantime, the programme continued on, with activities scheduled for 2020 delivered online.
The final session focused on staff development with a session on recruitment in a post-COVID world with Neil Eastwood, author of Saving Social Care and an international speaker on this topic. Neil offered to run a virtual Zoom workshop to help master recruitment and retention best practices. He shared his approaches to attracting, sourcing, selecting and on-boarding staff, as well as the secrets to long-term retention.
Plans for the 2020-21 programme have been adapted as COVID-19 effected global change and brought significant challenges for the sector. However, the NCF team has been working to bring more to the programme for its fourth year, and there will be some exciting new additional activities when we start again later in 2020.
Throughout the year, the Rising Stars have been sharing their experience of the programme with CMM and you can read their stories on the CMM website.
You can read more about the NCF Rising Stars Programme and how our partners support it here.
If you would like to nominate a registered manager for the next programme contact firstname.lastname@example.org