Sunny Raval discusses with M.Suhail Mirza
“Using Winningtemp’s real-time engagement platform can dramatically change the wellbeing of workers in adult social care”
M.Suhail Mirza has been involved in the healthcare sector for more than 20 years. He was co-owner of a family adult social care business employing 250 people, which was successfully sold in 2014 and has written on both health and social care markets for the likes of Health Investor, Caring Times, and Healthcare Market News.
Here Suhail details why he believes Winningtemp is a vital component to addressing the critical issues surrounding the adult social care workforce right now.
What attracted you to Winningtemp?
What I found really appealing about the platform was that it allows employers on a real time basis to connect and engage with their workforce. Monitoring mental health, and pre-empting in a productive manner, with interventions and support, which is really going to be very important.
A lot of engagement with employees, particularly in the care sector, is often reactive. Surveys which are incredibly useful and very revealing, are sometimes only done annually or quarterly.
But real-time questions that allow for engagement and for managers to proactively support their staff, I found to be a revolutionary concept that could potentially make a dramatic difference to the wellbeing of the adult social care workforce."
That’s why I was really motivated to learn more about the business and having done so to be able to partner with them and support their goals and visions within adult social care.
What are the key challenges within adult social care that Winningtemp can help with?
Within adult social care it is fundamentally well known that it is under tremendous pressure due to inadequate funding. This then plays down into the ability to deliver care and most crucially to be able to have the resources to retain and attract people.
The workforce typically accounts for at least 70-75% of the budget. If they are unable to attract and retain the right people, social care providers will simply be unable to deliver the care that they are required, obligated, and committed to do. And they certainly may not be able to deliver the care to the standard that they would normally be aspiring to.
So, for adult social care home providers Winningtemp allows for engagement and support while anticipating workforce requirements that will help longevity, which is the crucial issue. Because the turnover of staff in the adult social care sector is proportionally very high.
What are your thoughts on how Covid has impacted the adult social care sector?
The pandemic has had a pernicious effect at all levels within the care sector. From the basic human level of care home residents passing away from Covid, to the care workers that look after these individuals.
Care workers who are dedicated to continuity of care, building tremendous relationships with these individuals. The trauma of dealing with and witnessing people battling and sometimes failing in that battle with Covid. Then having to communicate that to relatives of the care residents. It is a cycle of profound emotional and mental health trauma.
The sheer worry around their own self-care. Particularly in the early stages of the Covid battle there were well documented irregularities in the supply of PPe to the sector and the availability of guidance on how to deliver care in these times. Many papers are being written around burnout and the Covid impact continues to - and will continue to - affect the wellbeing of care staff, even once it has been hopefully vanquished by the vaccines.
For care home managers they have tremendous worry from Covid. With high levels of sickness amongst staff they still must ensure that rotas are filled. Will they have enough staff in the right places, in the right areas to deliver the care that they are required to?
What can leaders do for their people right now regarding the mental health of their workers?
The paramount imperative is to realise that care, as the name would suggest, is a quintessentially human endeavour. And it doesn’t come from a rational place, it comes from the heart. So, taking that principal which, all care providers live by, what leaders now need to do, for themselves as well as their teams, is to lead with the heart. Communicate, listen, and understand the anxieties without judgement.
To give safe spaces for the people of the organisation to share their feelings, anxieties, and fears, and to reassure and communicate. Leaders in the home care sector are doing wonderfully well. So, continue to listen and communicate, but also, anticipate."
I think that’s where Winningtemp’s real-time ability to understand how people are feeling can play a huge role, allowing leaders to anticipate and intervene before things become much more challenging or difficult.
The adult social care sector has been quite rightly applauded and recognised during the Covid crisis for the unbelievable work that the workers do. Individuals who are often working at relatively low rates of pay, potentially putting their lives at risk to help vulnerable people.
However, the sector has traditionally been the poor cousin of the NHS. The government has produced an NHS People Plan to support the workforce of the NHS, which I fully support. But there is no such plan for social care.
Social care employs over one million individuals. Without an adequately and wonderfully working adult social care sector, the NHS would simply not be able to function. We must therefore bear in mind that the adult social care sector plays a fundamental role and deserves parity of esteem, in terms of funding, in terms of its recognition by politicians, and its workforce needs parity of esteem in terms of the recognition of the work they do.
It is highly skilled, and it is extremely demanding. It is intimate and hard work to help people in those settings. Therefore, any ability to support the wellbeing, the flourishing, the career development of that workforce must be applauded.
And any business that can provide a tool that can help in that, I think, has the chance to play a pivotal role over the transformation that’s been envisioned by policy makers for the sector over the next few years.
More about Suhail…
The author of the forthcoming LaingBuisson UK Healthcare Recruitment and Flexible Workforce UK Market Report 2021, he is also Chairman at Retinue Health, which partners with NHS Trusts and private healthcare business across the UK. In addition, Suhail is an inner wellness coach working with NHS Trusts and advising and supporting Diversity and Inclusion and Wellness Strategy. His coaching also helps listed and private staffing businesses.