Care home employers face a mental health pandemic if they do not ensure they are looking after their staff in the wake of coronavirus, a leading expert has warned.
Claire Leake (pictured), people director at vulnerable adult support and services provider, National Care Group, believes the incredibly tough challenges faced by care home teams over the past eighteen months have the potential to be hugely damaging for staff, if employers aren’t taking care of their wellbeing and mental health.
She said: “With NHS data showing that the number of days taken off work by the UK public for mental health-related issues surged during 2020’s lockdowns, it has never been more important for employers to take care of their team’s mental health. This is especially relevant in the care sector, where staff have truly been on the front line of the pandemic and dealing with its impacts on a daily basis since early last year.”
National Care Group currently employs 2,400 people across England and Wales. Its commitment to supporting the mental health of its colleagues has seen it train one mental health first aider for every 24 members of the team, with the target of that being one to every ten by the end of the year.
Claire said: “Since May, we have started to see a significant reduction in the number of days of mental health related absence, which we believe is a combination of the number of trained mental health first aiders, as well as the work we have done as a team around Mental Health Awareness Week.
“Our focus on increasing the number of managers equipped with the knowledge and understanding to support colleagues with mental health related issues will hopefully lead to a continued reduction in mental health related absence, as well as ensuring proactive support upfront when warning signs occur.”
Among the measures introduced by National Care Group are Wellbeing Wednesday, featuring on-demand yoga and mindfulness sessions, and the Employee Assistance app, which provides a daily mood tracker to offer holistic support as well as a confidential advice line that provides access to counselling support.