Our Director of Operations Malcolm Hague reflects on the past 10 weeks of the pandemic

As we begin to emerge from what has arguably been one of the biggest challenges faced by the Care Sector on record it has been very interesting to reflect on not only the sheer brilliance of our team members in our homes but also on things that we now do differently, some of which surely will stay the same in the future.

When the Pandemic started in early March, like everyone else, we were quite worried about what the real impact was going to be on us. We completed copious amounts of planning which, at the time, was all done on a “just in case” basis, which in fact mostly turned to reality as we were all significantly operationally tested over the first few weeks, constantly thinking about what’s going to happen next and dealing with the enormous amounts of information and policy changes that were required. I think we got to COVID-19 Policy version 9 within a matter of days.

Being “confined to barracks” was also not that easy for us. We are a very field-based team and the thought of not being out and about regularly required a lot of adjustment for us all in the beginning. How will the team cope? Will we know what’s happening on the ground? were constant thoughts. 10 weeks on, we needn’t have worried as we found ways to communicate and get real time information from our teams in the homes.

I think this was when we realised that our role was one of “support” rather than instructing. Our Home Managers took the brunt of the changes and handled it incredibly well. Our role was to be on the end of the phone and to source and provide them with whatever they needed and be a point of advice and also someone to let off steam to, if that’s what they needed.

We have removed many unnecessary reports and requirements from the homes to allow them the time to operate efficiently and have utilised our time looking at smarter ways to collect and distribute information. Many of which have already been implemented and in final review stages with others.

Moving forward, we are clearly going to be a more effective business than we were when we went into this. A short time for change, indeed, but with a redirected focus of our time, its most definitely been worthwhile.

Communication, in my opinion, has never been better, swifter decision making and a more focussed approach to what the “real” issues are have been some of the benefits that we have realised, which don’t come easy when you spend a lot of time on the road each week.

I can’t praise our Homes Teams enough for the sheer grit and determination that they have displayed through this time and keeping our homes free of Coronavirus. I would like to think that we have supported that in some way by focussing our time on the critical issues that they just didn’t have the opportunity to focus on and taking the load wherever possible.

We have created Facebook groups, had virtual meetings, collected data differently, got creative and gone back, to a certain extent, to that old-fashioned method of communication “talking to people”. We have learned lots of lessons and things that we will imbed into our business, forever.

We will be forever grateful to our local teams who through adversity have demonstrated the values of the organisation Family, Integrity, Respect & Exceptional.

Director of Operations Malcolm Hague