Many care sector businesses operate more than one site. In some cases, this could mean two or more residential care homes catering for people requiring different levels and types of care. Often, care staff are expected to work at more than one location, crossing over between physical places of work several times per day. Care home managers, too, must juggle the different needs of residents and staff living in and operating out of different care home settings.
Multi-home care sector businesses must therefore deal with a very different set of challenges to those that only have one single location to look after. However, with some careful planning, co-operation and flexibility, multi-site working can prove highly efficient. Here are some top tips to bear in mind.
Set expectations early on
As with any job, the earlier you set expectations for your staff, the more likely it is that they will respond positively and be keen to make the necessary arrangements work out for everyone concerned. Ensure that new joiners know exactly where they are expected to work and how they are able to get there – is it walking distance, or will they need to drive or take public transport? Have you factored in enough time for them to physically move between sites, take the things they need with them to do their work and scheduled adequate lunch and break times? Do staff feel comfortable to speak to their managers about multi-site working and what they need to make it work for them?
Communication is king
This leads neatly onto the next top tip. Communication is particularly key when people are working at different sites. Do staff know what to do, when and where? Have they met and communicated with others on the same shift? Have they received enough training to feel comfortable working at each allocated site? Can they access their calendars and are they able to raise queries around timing clashes, request shift changes or book in annual leave? How do meetings work when people are based at different sites – is everyone conversant with tools such as video conferencing and group communications apps so they can stay in touch with the rest of the team?
Healthy boundaries mean happy staff
Remote working can mean less time in immediate contact with manager and the rest of the team. This can then lead to blurred lines when it comes to things like time-keeping, sharing out tasks equitably and retaining a health work-life balance.
If you are a care home manager who oversees staff at different locations, have you made the effort to get to know them, allow them to get to know you and how you like to run things? Make sure that everyone knows the procedure for times when they need to share feedback on their work, a resident they are looking after or a situation that they may be worried about at work.
Build a remote working culture
Even if people are not always physically working together, that doesn’t mean that you can’t establish a good working relationship with others, nor that you cannot encourage a culture of friendliness and support. Plan get-togethers that involve the whole team – held at each of the different sites in turn so that people can get to know all the separate locations. Encourage people to look after their own wellbeing and physical and mental health. Take regular breaks for mindfulness activities, meditation sessions, taking walks outside, sharing food together etc. wherever possible.
Provide the right resources to help
Finally, no job involving working at multiple sites can work effectively with the person being given the right tools and resources to carry it out. This can be all sorts of things, from training and equipment to care management software and mobile devices. Care Vision provides the ideal platform for multi-site care organisations, Staff can access the system 24/7 from wherever they are, provided they have an internet enabled device.
They are not required to return to ‘base’ to complete records or update files – data can be entered on the system on the spot and shared instantly with those who need to see it. This cuts down on the need for multiple records to be kept and updated separately. It also prevent errors from creeping in as information does not need to be passed on manually.