Facebook Live Q + A – September

Covid-19

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Where do you stand on visiting in care or nursing homes if a resident is approaching end of life? - Anne

Jas: Compassionate visits will still continue as long as people follow the guidelines. This is the way in which we have operated throughout Covid and we will continue to do so.

Margaret, Regional Lead – Fully agree with Jas’ response, it is important that we continue with visits for those residents who are approaching the end of their lives. It is vitally important that our residents and family are allowed to say their goodbyes. We really wish we could support more visits for our residents but we need to balance the benefits of the visit with the risk of potential spread of infection.

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What should someone do who has returned to the country? - Anne

Margaret, Regional Lead – When someone returns from another country they should make themselves aware of the current guidelines and follow them carefully. As the situation is continually changing it is important to refer to current, up to date information. Colleagues can contact their manager or a member of the HR team for advice.

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Many say that the pandemic has brought the best out in people - what has most impressed you about how Hafod colleagues have adapted? - Louise

Jas: A number of things first of all, human beings are much more resilient than we first thought. When people talk about change they say human being are instinctively adverse to change, it doesn’t come naturally, yet what we’ve witnessed as a society and as humanity is people’s ability to adapt.

What we’ve seen within Hafod is not just that resilience; I think the inter-departmental cooperation has improved. I think each of you, wherever you are in the organisation, is better versed with another bit of the organisation, or more.

Another thing that has impressed me is people just getting on with it. I can’t cite too many examples where people have said no I’m not doing it, it’s more a question of if I can’t do it can you help me to do it. Generally, the cooperation has been absolutely immense.

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The UK government has today announced a £500m support package for Social Care and Care Home providers, do you know if this is a UK package or if there are similar proposals by the Welsh Government? - Robert

Jas: Yes I heard that myself. I regularly talk to my colleagues in this field in England and there are a couple of things I will say about this. First of all, £500 million isn’t a great deal of money considering the size of England and the number of providers, so I think that’s important for context.

We have had a number of initiatives from the Welsh government and we’ve recently seen sight of a report on the economic implications in a review of future care. But I’m not aware of any measures that currently match the announcement from the UK government.

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How do you see office work changing after the pandemic ends Jas? Do you think home working will stay? - Michael

Jas: We have a group of colleagues who have been working on this and they will be shortly agreeing the policy which will guide this.

Our commitment remains in line with Welsh government’s advice which is that wherever possible you should work from home, obviously it isn’t possible for our colleagues on the front-line.

How long can we carry on like this? Well, when the pandemic began people said it had brought forward the idea of home working by five years and this was where the world was going. I think this is absolutely right.

Our working group has the task of working out how best we use St Hilary Court, being mindful of the need to social distance.

What happens in the longer term? Well, I think that remains unknown. I think that virtual working will become a more regular feature. Hopefully when the pandemic goes away we’ll be able to increase our presence but it’s unrealistic to think it will ever be like it was before.

Karen, Corporate Director: From a people perspective, it’s been part of our people strategy to have more agile and flexible working practices. Covid has allowed us to achieve our objective 2 years early. We are looking for a permanent solution where we can enable colleagues to work from home or to work flexibly if that’s what they want.

But we know from the survey that there are a small number of colleagues who do like to come to an office, who do like the interaction and the facilities that an office can bring. What we’re trying to do at the moment is balance how we can help those colleagues and also allow the colleagues who want to remain remote working to do that.

The future

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We’re seeing an increasing demand for homes for people living with dementia. Has Hafod thought about branching out to specialist dementia housing before the need for nursing care rises? - Sadie

Jas: We recognise the way the world is changing that there will be an increasing demand as dementia affects a growing aging population in the future. We want to respond to that and we definitely see this as an area for growth.

We’re a significant provider of care, including dementia care.  We are aware of the challenges that dementia presents and in response we have already trained hundreds of to become dementia friendly.

Margaret, Regional Lead: We are working with our learning and development team and the University of Worcester to implement a framework for dementia care. The framework is called Vips and there is lots of information about it online. This framework is suitable for use across care and nursing homes and homecare. Whilst this doesn’t fully answer your question, part of the VIPS framework considers the environment and assists us in improving our service for those who are living with dementia.

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With the environment under threat and carbon literacy big on our agenda... what is our vision for our 'homes of the future'? - Cerys

Jas: When we think about the current crisis we think about a pandemic and economic crisis, but the underlying crisis of our time is the crisis of climate change.

There is a danger of our climate being overlooked. So where is Hafod in this conversation? Probably not in the place I think we would like it to be.

Luke has done some work on costing to retrofit all Hafod properties, and I think the figure was in the range of about £60 million which is a conservative cost, possibly more. Even an ambitious approach would involve work over an 8-10 years period. I believe that’s far too long so we do need the hand of government to help us subsidise that.

Luke, Operations Director: Our decarbonisation challenge is not just to do with cost of the work to our homes but also helping people to change the way they live in their homes which is why we have signed up to be a carbon literate organisation. Most team members will have a day of training on understanding how our current behaviours and life styles impact carbon creation. Look forward to seeing you on the courses. Our vision for homes of the future is that people will have energy efficient homes but also have information on how their choices and behaviours will maximise their disposable income and reduce carbon production.

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How can we get better at communicating? - Hafod care

Jas: One of the things that we were told needed improvement was communication and I agree that it needed some work.

Colleagues have told me that the Hafod Facebook colleague site has been absolutely amazing. I myself spend some time checking updates on there and I believe it has helped bring us together. Facebook has been an incredible medium and we’re really happy with how colleagues have engaged with it.

The regular weekly communication is a rich source of information and has enabled us to be open and transparent. I appreciate that not everybody is interested in all the details, but I think it’s an incredibly important medium in keeping everyone up to date.

Additional topics mentioned

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Are we doing anything for black history month? - Lucy

Jas: Absolutely. We came out during the period of black lives matter and with a very strong position. We are absolutely committed and we are following the conversations that are happening. We have an internal working group made up of people across the organisation that have an interest in diversity and inclusion and have volunteered to take part.

Karen, Corporate Director: Rachelle Beasley leads our diversity and inclusion group and we have colleagues from all parts of the organisation represented. One of the things we have talked about is black history month and how we can mark it as an organisation. We have a plan in place to support the activities in a very authentic way where we will to share stories and information around Black History in our local area.

We are always looking for new members to bring their interests and perspectives, so if you are interested in diversity and inclusion we would love to bring more people into the group to help shape what we do as an organisation.  You are not required to be an expert in diversity and inclusion, your experiences and interests are enough; we are all on a learning journey.

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Communications with the Welsh government - Hafod manifesto

Jas: In the run up to the 2021 election, we have been talking directly with the Welsh government. Our board decided that it wanted to produce a Hafod manifesto. This manifesto was presented a meeting with senior representatives from all the major political parties in Wales, in which we articulated our vision for the future. We’ve been absolutely amazed at the positive responses we’ve had from each of the main political parties who have described our ways of working and vision as compelling.

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Brexit

Jas: Clearly the issue of Brexit has risen in the last couple of weeks. For us, Brexit is relevant when it comes to recruitment but also when it comes to supplies, materials and equipment. Marc (Operations Manager) and Gareth (Corporate Director) reassure us that we’d pretty much on top of that so we’d in a pretty good place as far as that is concerned.

Facebook Live Q + A – April

Welsh Government announcement – £500

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In regard to the £500 we have been told that the company have to pay us then they get it back from government , we were then told this is not going to happen because company finance at present the company cannot afford it. - Anne

Jas: We are waiting on an update following the announcement made by the First Minister, Mark Drakeford on 1 May 2020 regarding a £500 payment to care workers providing personal care. 

So far no further update has been given with the specific details, criteria or the way in which it will be paid. However, the supplementary budget announcement by Welsh Government on Wednesday 27 May included the allocation of £40m to provide frontline social care workers with a £500 payment.  

We are closely following Welsh Government’s announcements on a daily basis and will inform colleagues when we know more.

Gareth, Director of Finance and IT: We will ensure that those colleagues who are entitled to the £500 will receive it.  The pandemic has had a significant financial impact, we’ve incurred additional costs for PPE and IT whilst our income has reduced due to the number of vacant beds.  However, we have a well- designed financial governance framework in place which ensures that we remain financially viable.

Testing

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When will the staff at woodcroft be tested? - Elizabeth

Margaret, Regional Lead: The Welsh Government has recently changed its policy to test all care homes and staff. Woodcroft were tested on Sunday 24 May – we are led to believe that testing of services, all residents and staff will be undertaken regularly; possibly every 2 weeks. The guidance however does seem to change on a regular basis. 

It is important to remember that announcements relating to testing by the UK Government do not necessarily relate to Wales, this is because decision making in this area is devolved to Wales. 

We will keep you informed when key announcements are made in the weekly communications, or sooner.

We were getting tested today (Friday 22 May) but staff who tested positive were not allowed to get tested again? So there’s no system set up for regular testing. - Rosalie

Margaret, Regional Lead: There are plans for regular testing but if you have tested positive, you will not be tested again for several weeks. The DNA from the virus can give a continued positive reading for up to 39 days following an infection. During this period you could continue to have a positive result but will not be contagious as the ‘dead’ DNA will give a positive result.

Furlough, sick pay and contracts

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Were office staff furloughed? If so, why were carers not adequately supported during the pandemic? E.g. if we caught the virus at work, we had to take either statutory sick pay or use holidays. - Iveta

Alison, Head of Human Resources: The majority of our colleagues working in our head office have continued to work during the pandemic, albeit they have been working from home. The majority of colleagues who have been furloughed fall within the shielding category and are therefore unable to work for health reasons. However, we were able to redeploy some colleagues as Helping Hands in our care homes.

Working from home with children off school is really tough at times, greater flexibility is great but still, full time hours can be challenging with the pressures. Is there any plan to consider part time furlough or any other practical measure to help those with children or care related difficulties. - Danielle

Alison, Head of Human Resources: We understand it can be challenging to work from home when balancing childcare which is why we’ve encouraged colleagues to change their working hours and work at times that suit their own circumstances. In these unprecedented times where colleagues may be caring for children or taking on caring responsibilities, flexibility and adapting working hours allows colleagues to balance these new demands and maintain business continuity as much as possible.

Also, the current scope of the job retention scheme doesn’t include being able to furlough someone on a part time basis.

It is extremely frustrating that people can get up to £2500 on the furlough scheme for staying at home and taking no risks whereas us in care take all the risks and end up being financially penalised when we contract the virus and only get SSP. - Ceri

Alison, Head of Human Resources: The majority of colleagues who have been furloughed fall within the shielding category and are therefore unable to work for health reasons. We have redeployed some of our head office colleagues to work within Care as Helping Hands where possible but the majority of our head office colleagues continue to work remotely during the pandemic.

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As you probably know we are hoping to open our ground floor garden up to make a bigger space at Woodcroft. Would it be possible for us to have a small memorial garden for the residents that we have lost to this awful virus? - Heidi

Jas: This is a really great suggestion and something that we should look to do across the business to remember all affected residents. Over the next few weeks we will work through the best way to make this happen and will be in touch with the services directly to make arrangements.

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The government has stated that key workers who contract the virus through working on the front line are entitled to their full pay. I have not witnessed this within my care home as those staff have been either on sick pay or used their annual leave. This job is stressful enough and annual leave is essential not to be used at once in this circumstance. - Samantha

Alison, Head of Human Resources: Currently there haven’t been any legislative changes requiring employers to pay their employees full pay if they are off work due to COVID-19. However, the government has extended the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) scheme to pay SSP from the first day off work, not the fourth. We will of course comply with any legislative changes that are made.

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New start carers are started on a zero hour contract. This causes problems for many especially if they are single. They can’t rent or get HP etc with no guarantee of proper income. Is there scope within Hafod for such ones to be started on a proper contract instead of being started on zero hours with the option of applying for a full contract after? - Kerry

Alison, Head of Human Resources: Not all new starters join Hafod on a zero hours contract. We regularly recruit for roles with contracted hours as well as zero hours and applicants can choose to apply for contracted hours at any time, however we are aware that many colleagues prefer the flexibility of a zero hours contract.

Care home admissions

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Will care homes be receiving more residents soon? - Anne

Margaret, Regional Lead: We are now accepting new admissions into most of our care homes. The government changed its policy on testing and now tests every individual who is admitted into a care home. Together with a period of isolation for each new resident and a negative COVID test, we are able to reduce the risk to an acceptable level and adhere to the Welsh Government and Public Health Wales guidance.

It concerns me accepting new residents as it's really difficult to isolate on a dementia unit. - Tracey

Margaret, Regional Lead: It is acknowledged that on dementia units it is very difficult to isolate residents. Any new admissions would require a risk assessment prior to admission, this assessment would include the risk to our other residents and staff. All new admissions are tested prior to admission and should isolate for 14 days. If you have any individual concerns please discuss them with your manager.

Other

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Will Hafod be reconsidering a Flexitime system for St Hilary Court based staff now working remotely? - Nicola

Alison, Head of Human Resources:

We’re not intending on implementing a formal flexitime system as our preference is for Hafod to be an agile workplace that isn’t restricted by the rules of a system. We would prefer to empower our colleagues to work where, when and how they choose with as much flexibility as possible, so that they can do their best work.

Our New Ways of Working project is focusing on how we reimagine the work spaces and working methods to become more agile and allow colleagues to work to their best of their ability. If you haven’t completed it yet, it would be great to hear your feedback via the project team’s short survey by 5 June.

 

Home working is working great with the Customer Service team. Our manager has really kept us unified as a team. If we upgraded our IT systems to take live calls at home would there be an option to continue home working in the future? - Martyn

Allan, Head of IT

The ability to take live calls by our Customer Services team whilst working from home is currently being looked into as part of the New Ways of Working project, however the option to continue working from home in the future is subject to a much wider discussion at Executive level. 

The New Ways of Working project team are looking for feedback about colleagues’ experiences of working differently over the past few months. If you haven’t completed it yet, it would be great to hear your thoughts via the project team’s short survey by 5 June.

 

Can we choose our shift if we work nights and look after our children? - Elizabeth

Jas: I’m sure there is some flexibility if you speak with your manager but we can get further information from Margaret, our Regional Lead.  

Margaret, Regional Lead: Organising staff rotas is one of the most difficult tasks a manager completes. Trying to be equitable whilst recognising core staff commitments outside work is very difficult. We need to make sure that not only the right numbers of staff are on duty but also the right skill mix. Also if we need to support our teams with agency staff then we need to try to make sure that agency use is spread across the seven days and not have all agency workers in for unpopular shifts e.g. weekends. This is to ensure residents are cared for by staff who are familiar with their needs and give continuity.

However, the first action you need to take is to make an appointment to see your home manager. I am sure they will try to accommodate your requests, they will need to consider how this will impact upon other members of the team. Following this meeting, if you feel you need to, you could complete a flexible working request.

I am loving the new technology and the fact I can meet up with my team. Will Microsoft Teams be opened up to the rest of the company? - Tracy

Allan, Head of IT: Microsoft Teams will be part of the Microsoft 365 project that should be starting shortly. All staff who currently have company network access will need Microsoft 365 licences and will therefore have access to Microsoft Teams.

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When do you see staff returning to head office? - Ellie-Rose

Jas: Whenever that day comes, it won’t be the same as it was before. When Welsh Government gives companies the green light to open workplaces back up safely, doesn’t mean we have to and we won’t be rushing to do that.

Wherever possible, we’ll encourage people to work remotely. Colleagues who are set up to work from home, can continue to do that. Our purpose is to redesign SHC so it becomes a smart hub so it’s suitable for the way we want to work going forward.  

We’re also mindful that colleagues become accustomed to working in a certain environment and for them to be suddenly working from home can take some time to adjust. 

David, Deputy Chief Executive: There are a number of actions we need to take to ensure the safety of colleagues and visitors to the building before St Hilary Court can be opened for ‘business as usual’. 

We will communicate with you when it is safe to re-open and give you information on how this will work.  In the meantime you should continue to carry on working in the same way as you have been. 

The decision to re-open St Hilary Court will take into account all factors that may pose a risk to colleagues’ health, safety and well-being as well as government advice.

There is a lot of focus on how care and the value placed on it may change in future. Do you have any views on how funding for other areas of the business will be impacted e.g support, development and rental income? - Elke

Jas: What’s interesting is the UK Government is recognising that even in normal times there’s all sorts of problems and challenges throughout the care sector which is something that the UK Government and the devolved administration need to come together to work on.

The UK Government and the Prime Minister specifically says in their manifesto about investment for the social care sector and I think he’ll be held to account for that. Now, the pandemic has brought forward this work.