A wellbeing policy is a great way for a care provider to show that they take mental health seriously. It shows commitment to staff, their patients and all that visit. It also helps keep the focus on health when implementing other procedures.
Ideally the wellbeing policy should be central to the providers business plan and available to all from the start. If however you need to review existing practices, look no further.
It’s always a good idea to look at how things are currently going before making changes or indeed creating a wellbeing policy. Patient health is the primary objective of a care home, but it is vital to ensure that the mental wellbeing of staff are catered for as well.
Steps that could be taken prior to any company wide change include engagement with the staff. Mental health in the past has been a difficult subject for some to discuss so introducing an anonymous survey into the mix can help encourage insight.
Ask questions such as:
- Does the workplace currently support your mental wellbeing?
- Does your work impact negatively or positively on your mental health?
- What can the company do to improve your mental wellbeing?
The feedback from the survey will help you identify areas for improvement and begin the process of creating/reviewing your wellbeing policy.
If your staff are happy to engage openly, you can further add to these points through group meetings or one to one sessions. Any information you can glean from the workforce will make any transition easier.
Once you’ve collated the information focus on three main areas.
- How you will promote wellbeing?
- How you can encourage a good work/life balance
- How you can make employees feel safe
- How will you promote discussion about mental health internally
- How will you prevent employees experiencing mental health problems?
- What changes can be made in the workplace to make employees more comfortable
- What training or development opportunities will you offer
- How will you supervise or mentor employees
- How individual responsibilities to look out for each other will be communicated
- How will you support staff?
- What measures will you take to identify mental health issues
- How will you respond to someone that discloses mental health concerns
- How will you work with those who’ve taken time off work due to an issue to ensure a smooth return after the event
All answers show be recorded in the form of an action plan that can be refered to throughout the lifetime of the organisation. Review and update the policy regularly, particularly if you find that certain approaches haven’t been effective.
Taking the wellbeing of your workers seriously will ensure that they remain productive and happy. All aspects of the job and their work/life balance should be considered.
Keep a checklist of all points and review that as situations develop or new legislation is introduced. Simple changes in the workplace can have major benefits to an individual.
Your Wellbeing checklist can include questions such as;
- Do you provide staff the opportunity to talk, e.g. group sessions or one-to-ones?
- Do you have dedicated staff dealing with staff wellbeing?
- Do you know how to support an employee with a mental health problem? If not what training can you get?
- How do you help people return to work if they’ve suffered mental health issues?
- Do you encourage positive lifestyle choices, e.g. healthy eating and exercise? Can you offer incentives such as gym memberships?
- Do you have an equality and diversity policy? Do you offer equality and diversity training?
- Do your workers regularly take their allocated breaks?
- Do you arrange staff social events, inside and outside of work hours?
- Do you offer flexible working hours?
- How do you handle routine doctor or dentist appointments? Are staff allowed to make appointments during working hours?
- Are staff allowed to go home on time or are they expected to stay late? Are alternative arrangements made for those that stay late – i.e. come in later the next day?
- Have you made reasonable adjustments for people with mental health conditions?
- Do you actively measure stress levels in the workplace? Do you promote stress awareness to carers?
- How do you communicate any changes to processes or operating procedures? Is it done in a manner that reduces anxiety to those resistant to change?
- Do you have any lone workers in your workforce? Do you offer lone working training?
- Are employees involved in the decision making processes?
- Are employees clear of their roles and responsibilities?
- Do you motivate your staff to come to work?
- Are managers trained in how to identify risks and recognise problems?
- Are employees trained in mental health awareness?
- Do you have a policy in place to deal with bullying/harassment?
- Do you operate an open door policy?
The wellbeing of staff and the promotion of good mental health doesn’t need to be expensive. The key to managing the process is being proactive in your approach while allowing personal development alongside a healthy life balance.
The care sector isn’t just about the health and wellfare of patients. Those at their must vulnerable need dedicated and committed staff to help them live happy and full lives. Taking care of the carers is an integral part of ensuring a care home stays successful.