Parity of Esteem

April 6, 2020 Case Study Theresa Shearer - Group CEO

As we start another week of the most complex operating environment any of us have ever experienced, I am pleased to report that ENABLE Scotland continues to work effectively at every level. Critically, our frontline workforce continues to deliver first class care and support to keep people healthy, well and safe.

Emotion creeps up on you in leadership through these times, as it can for all of us at the moment. CEOs are no different. Beyond all the metrics I see on a daily basis about absence rates, recruitment statistics, and our negotiations with local authorities, it is the small stories that help me know that we are doing the best we can, like this feedback we got from parents of a person we support this week:

 

Being elderly, we must stay away (what sad times, but we must try and protect ourselves). We want to take this chance to thank you all for the support you have given S. I would be glad if you could pass on our sincere appreciation to the care workers you employ. The saddest thing of all for my wife and me, in these troubled times is not being able to go and visit poor S. I feel quite emotional at just telling you that. Keep safe and best wishes to all.

 

For those of us in leadership positions, it is easy to feel inadequate at this point in time whilst our frontline staff are working so hard in our local communities, leaving their own families at home to go outside and provide critical care for others.

But keeping the machinery of the charity running in these difficulty times is also of critical importance to the well-being of the people we support. We need to be strong as an organisation so that we can be strong for the staff and the people we support in local communities throughout Scotland.

As we continue to adapt our working practices, our technology has once again been tested, as we held the first ever set of ENABLE Scotland and Piper Group Board meetings via Zoom at the end of last week.

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented care providers like ENABLE Scotland with challenges that are completely unprecedented in living memory. I have been a proud CEO to lead a team who not only have all the critical skills and talented teams, but also the right values, a combination that has come to the fore as we have put in place the measures necessary to ensure we can keep supporting some of Scotland’s most vulnerable citizens throughout this period.

Supporting our colleagues

We publish a daily update every day for all of our staff which contains a daily digest of the day’s updated Government guidance, and have stored all of this in a central portal which is accessible to all colleagues – including PAs – on the smart phones we issued to all staff as part of a successful IT refresh last year.

We have a dedicated Covid-19 webpage for our staff, people we support, members and their families, and these (plus our recruitment campaign) have meant that our website last week had the highest number of visitors in 9 years.

In an era where there is the potential for information overload, we have made it our mission to provide clarity, reassurance and accessibility of information for our staff through daily decision making on what the latest government guidance means for our organisational policies – the last thing we want is for staff to be worried about anything.

Our People Team have also stepped up and launched a new Helpline which is available to all frontline staff from 7am till 7pm, 7 days a week, to support and answer any queries from staff related to coronavirus and all the various ways this can impact on working practice at the moment.

Recognising true heroes

I’m incredibly proud, as I always am, of the efforts our PAs are making to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure everyone we support is safe at home – an absolutely critical role in alleviating pressure on our NHS when those staff need to focus their resources on the most serious cases of Covid-19. We truly are in this together.

Be in no doubt – our PAs are true heroes of the country’s pandemic response. Over the weekend, there is not one person working in social care who did not shed a tear at the news of the death of a member of the frontline social care workforce in West Dunbartonshire.

And so it is important to recognise their contribution not just with undeniably moving gestures like the weekly “#ClapForCarers”, but also by doing the right thing by giving them access to dedicated healthcare staff hours in supermarkets, and ensuring public funding is in place to guarantee no less than the Scottish Living Wage for every hour they work – and critically, right now, ensuring that there is enough PPE stock in the system for our staff to access, at levels which are in line with the Scottish Government’s own guidelines.

We are working hard through our networks to challenge the Scottish Government and others to make sure that social care staff get the resource they need – not just the recognition. I am sure that on the other side of this, we will never have to argue about parity of esteem for our social care and NHS workforce again.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed an awful lot very quickly – not least who we all recognise as the genuine key workers in our society and our economy. Let’s make sure that shift in perception translates into real action that recognises the vital role of Scotland’s social care workforce.

Theresa Shearer
Group CEO

Are you ready to step up in the response to Covid-19 as a PA for ENABLE Scotland? Do you know someone who has the values and dedication to support someone who has a learning disability to live the life they choose?

Click here to apply for a job with ENABLE Scotland today.

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