By Stephanie Vaughan-Jones, Head of Healthcare at leading outsourced communications provider, Moneypenny (www.moneypenny.com/uk)
The adult social care workforce is the sector’s biggest resource. Before the pandemic, it faced many adverse issues including absenteeism, recruitment, retention and turnover. COVID-19 has made some of these issues even more acute and the HSE recently revealed that stress, depression or anxiety account for 51% of all work-related ill health cases.
A major stress-causing factor within the workplace is interruption – from constant phone calls and emails to deliveries or dealing with con- tractors and demands from family residents, it can quickly feel like you’re constantly being distracted from your role of caring for the vulnerable. Failure to get mounting interruptions under control could prove extremely costly – to both quality of care and employee mental health.
Sending an email, listening to a voicemail, answering an unexpected call – these are all interruptions that can disrupt the flow of work. Data from Berkeley University has revealed that on average, interruptions take 23 minutes and 15 seconds to recover from – even if the distraction is only a minute. This added pressure can cause already overstretched care workers to become stressed and anxious, particularly when they’re exhausted due to working extra hours. It’s a vicious cycle which leads to heightened absence and eventual attrition. Care providers that allow this to happen simply aren’t protecting their employees and run the risk of putting patient care and their reputation in jeopardy.
If there’s one thing the last 12 months have taught us, it’s that health is wealth and protecting a workforce’s mental state must sit at the top of every organisation’s agenda. Now is the ideal time to rethink company practices and the following tips offer a good place to start:
1. MANAGE TIME SENSIBLY
While it’s vital to ensure maintain strong internal communications, try to avoid unplanned meetings and those about non-urgent issues. When meetings do occur, always use an agenda to stay on topic, reduce delays and minimise interruptions later in the day.
2. OUTSOURCE COMMUNICATIONS
If staff know that external communications are being handled, they can focus on providing care without worrying about missing calls from worried families or new bed enquiries. Outsourced telephone answering support and live chat offer the ideal solution for keeping ringing phones from distracting staff from providing care, while maintaining quality care and communications.
3. OPEN DOOR POLICY
Caring for elderly or vulnerable people on a daily basis can take its toll – it can be emotionally draining and carers become attached to those they are caring for, which causes stress and upset if their health deteriorates further or they pass away. It’s important that care professionals have someone to talk to, so encourage employees to talk openly and support one another. Dedicated helplines can be set up to provide care home staff with a direct contact with HR teams, or indeed for families of residents seeking advice or information around COVID-19 policies.
For more information about solutions that can improve efficiency, reduce distraction and mitigate burn out, visit www.moneypenny.com/uk/healthcare-answering-services/