Care homes are, by their very nature, very busy places. What with new arrivals needing to be settled in and all residents requiring a full programme of health and social care, entertainment, therapies, emotional support and meals, there is always something to do to further their care. Then, there are the staff to manage, HR functions to fulfil, auditing and reporting duties to handle, budgets and procurement, marketing and social media – the list goes on.
For care managers, a large part of the job description seems to require multi-tasking skills and excellent time management. While this can make the job more exciting, it can also run the risk of making you feel overwhelmed and unsupported. Happily, there are several things you can do to help you multi-task and get more items crossed off your to-do list every day.
Switching your care home admin processes from manual, handwritten forms to a digital care management system can help save a great deal of wasted time. All records are kept in one place so they don’t get mislaid. Entries and updates only need to be made once as they are in electronic format. Sharing among those who need to receive copies, comment or add their own data is far quicker too. You can incorporate your HR, payroll, staff rotas and other admin tasks onto the same system as your care admin too, again keeping things in once place and easy to access when you need it.
Be SMART in your goals
If you have ever attended management training, you will doubtless have come across the ‘SMART’ acronym, design o help busy manager set more effective goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely’ – all key attributes of good goal setting. Be kind to yourself when working out your goals. Break bigger tasks down into smaller chunks to help you track your progress and work out how much time to devote to each stage in the process. Give yourself enough time to achieve your goals – with some wriggle room factored in for unexpected delays.
Multi-tasking works better when you know which tasks you have in front of you, how long each one will roughly take and the order of priority each one sits at. The secret to knowing all of this is to make lists. Write down all the details of what you need to do. From there, you can work out timetables etc. and plan how you are going to run your week Another great thing about keeping lists is the satisfaction you can feel when you cross off each item, eventually getting to the final one.
No, this isn’t a repeat of the goal-setting point above. Working smarter and not harder may seem like another instance of business speak, but it really can make a difference for time-poor people. For instance, if you group similar tasks together to complete together, this can save time compared to moving backwards and forwards between different types of jobs. This includes grouping jobs together that need to be done in one location, or using one computer, smart device, software or other piece of equipment.
Focus is key
The worst enemy of multi-tasking is procrastinating. Finding yourself not only doing too few jobs, but actually none at all will only make your situation worse and your to-do list longer. Try and avoid distractions by planning ahead. Tell colleagues when you need to work in your office undisturbed. Eat when you feel hungry so you are not interrupted by a growling stomach. Book a slot in your diary when you will check emails or update social media. Use headphones to block out conversations around you if you find them breaking into your concentration too much.
Be kind to yourself
Finally, go easy on yourself. No one person can complete all the jobs required to run a care home by themselves. Ask for – and accept offers of – help from your team. This could be a great chance to teach those coming up the ranks behind you some new skills. Have regular breaks and make sure you eat and drink properly to remain healthy, hydrated and energised. After all, you won’t be able to do any tasks at all if you allow yourself to become overwhelmed and stressed out – look after yourself!