Christmas is Coming – But You Still Need to Carry on Caring

Christmas is just a couple of days away now and plans will doubtless be picking up pace in care homes across the country in preparation. One of the most important aspects of festive planning in residential care settings is staff rotas and shift scheduling. Having enough people on duty to keep residents and fellow staff safe, with all tasks covered is crucial, no matter what day it is. However, staff also want to take time off and spend at least some of the festive season with their loved ones too.

In order to establish the right balance between allowing people time off and ensuring you have all shifts covered, getting the planning right now is key. The more time you allow for scheduling, planning and making adjustments, the easier it will be to manage people’s expectations and maintain harmony among staff. Here are five ideas:

Clear expectations

We all react better to plans and requests of our time and effort when we understand exactly what is expected of us. So, when starting the festive season shift management and rota planning, make sure that you start by clearly laying out the daters and tines you need to have covered, how many staff you need for each slot and the duties they will be expected to take on. These duties may differ from people’s normal workloads, due to staff availability, increased likelihood of winter infections and illnesses amongst residents, changes to events and normal routines and extra visitors arriving to see residents for Christmas.

Effective planning

As with anything involving complex logistics, using the right planning tools can make a manager’s life a lot easier. Care Vision has shift management, staff annual leave and rota planning tools all integrated into the system. Staff shifts and rotas can be planned digitally, well ahead of time. The details are easily accessed by the whole team so that errors or clashes can be identified early and adjustments made. A digital care management system also enables managers to cross check annual leave requests with shift requirements. This means they can ensure that all working hours and tasks are covered before signing off on staff holiday requests over the Christmas period.

Sensible deadlines

Giving staff enough notice to work out what they are doing with friends or family and then putting in annual leave requests also makes for a more straightforward process. People don’t need to be rushed into letting management know when they would like to take time off, so they can take the time they need to work it all out. Early deadlines also leaves plenty of time for staff to discuss the issue between them and hopefully come up with some workable compromises to allow everyone at least part of the season off. It also flags up any potential problems to manager early, in case they need to book temp staff or change planned events or activities.

Attractive incentives

While most people are happy to muck in and ensure that residential care homes are adequately staffed over Christmas, people still appreciate knowing that they are valued and appreciated for helping out. Added incentives can make a huge difference when trying to encourage people to work over Christmas. These can be in the form of additional Christmas pay or bonuses. Or, they can be made up of non-monetary rewards, such as staff Christmas lunches or nights out, Secret Santa present swapping, hampers, time off in lieu and more.

Review for next time

As with any plan, knowing how it went and working out where it could have been improved is a valuable exercise for future success. Look back at previous years’ rotas and shift management notes on your care management system to see what happened and what worked well. Ask staff who were working for you last Christmas what they thought about how the rotas and shifts were planned.

Don’t forget to ask the opinions of your residents and their families too, as they will be in a great position to tell you how your care arrangements worked for them over Christmas. Find out if there is anything they would like you to add in terms of staff numbers, events and activities, special menus etc.

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