Work for a care company that stands out from the crowd

It’s a challenging time for independent care providers (ICPs) in Wales, but Care in Hand is working hard to buck negative trends dogging the industry.

Central Government cuts to Local Authorities' funding have left them with no choice but to freeze the commissioning rates they pay ICPs such as Care in Hand (CiH) to provide domiciliary care on their behalf.

This freeze, combined with the introduction of a higher national living wage, means ICPs are finding it harder than ever to provide their staff with good employment terms and conditions, as they attempt to meet costs on a reduced income.

A research paper commissioned by the Welsh Government to examine factors affecting the recruitment and retention of domiciliary care workers, and the extent to which these factors affect the quality of domiciliary care, recognises the constraints low commissioning rates are placing on ICPs and the effect this is having on their employees.

The paper notes issues such as zero hour contracts, pay that doesn’t cover travel costs and lack of training as reasons for people leaving the care industry or dismissing it as a potential source of employment.

But it’s not all bad news. CiH employees enjoy a range of benefits and support that are increasingly rare within the hard-pushed care sector. While our staff care for our clients, we care for our staff.

88% of our employees are contracted, with the remaining 12% preferring to be on zero hour contracts because of other work or study commitments.

We mark travelling time separately from working hours, so staff can clearly see the time they have to travel between clients, and how much they will be paid for it.

In fact, all our carers are set to receive an increase in their travelling payments, thanks to a new method of scheduling travelling time we’ve recently introduced.

Company cars, subject to availability, can be provided to employees with transport issues so they don’t miss work and lose out on pay.

If our staff lose contracted hours because a client is in hospital or respite care, or has passed away, we top up their pay in line with their contracted hours.

Several years ago we introduced a minimum shift duration of four hours, with a view to putting a stop to unpaid gaps in shift schedules. We hope to increase this minimum to five hours.

When staffing levels allow it, CiH pays employees to be on standby to cover unplanned sick leave.

We operate an automatic enrolment pension scheme, with 98% of our workforce receiving a contribution of 1% of their pay that will rise to 2% in October 2017. CiH also offers annual pay increases. This year, pay rates increased by 3% following the introduction of enhanced wages on weekends.

CiH schedules and pays staff to attend bi-monthly meetings which are essential for good communication, team building and recognition. We also recognise our employees' hard work with quarterly awards, rewarding their valued contributions with certificates and cash bonuses.

We have our own City and Guilds accreditation and European funding, which has helped 44% of staff achieve a QCF or work towards achieving the accolade, improving their chances of promotion.

Our 32 senior staff range between 25 and 55 years of age and many of them are “home grown”, having started off as care workers for CiH before progressing their careers. We like to spot internal talent and encourage these dedicated people to develop. Because of this philosophy, most of our senior staff know CiH inside out and can empathise with the type of issues facing employees at every level of the company.

Our care workers and their clients are supported in the community by experienced field supervisors, while call monitors work from the offices, keeping track of staff while offering them a direct contact for comprehensive support.

We operate three regional offices - located in Saundersfoot, Pembroke Dock and Narberth - which open from 6am to 10pm and have their own dedicated management team.

We’re also in the process of renting meeting and staff room space in the Fishguard area, in response to feedback from our North Pembrokeshire team who found their designated base in Narberth to be too far away.

Giving the team a local base demonstrates our ongoing commitment to listening to and supporting our staff, especially those who work at a distance from our regional hubs.

CiH Managing Director Delan Umanee said it was of upmost importance that company employees are valued, properly paid for their time and have a good work-life balance.

“The Welsh Government's research paper notes that poor working conditions often go hand in hand with poor quality care. We offer employees a high level of support, and we place a strong emphasis on providing them with training and opportunities for career progression. By looking after our employees, they go on to provide a great standard of care to our clients. I would say to anyone who feels put off from entering the care industry by its often negative image with regards to pay, conditions and career progression, to think about working for Care in Hand. We’re trying to give our care workers a fair deal despite the challenges the industry as a whole now faces."

To read the research paper in full, click on this link.