Our Emergency Support Framework conversation

We hear from an adult social care inspector about one of their Emergency Support Framework conversations.

You can find out more about our new monitoring tool the Emergency Support Framework (ESF ) on our website.

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I have completed numerous calls with providers since the launch of the Emergency Support Framework (ESF) and have been fortunate enough to talk to some fantastic managers and staff going above and beyond during this crisis.

I have spent years building up relationships with the services I am responsible for and although the ESF prioritises calls based on risk, I use this alongside my own judgement based on my knowledge of the service.

One particular care home, although rated Good, I knew was going through a tough time. They had a history of staff complaints and my instinct told me something was not quite right with the culture of the home and they needed that little bit of extra support.

After a number of manager resignations and changes, there was a new interim manager in place just as we hit lockdown. They were trying to do their very best under such difficult circumstances and learning as they went.

Through our ESF conversation it was wonderful to hear they had done fantastically well to keep COVID-19 levels low, with a good supply of PPE and they were maintaining good staffing levels.

Having a call from your inspector, especially when you are new in post can be daunting, but I did my best to reassure them and make the conversation as relaxed as possible. It is never about judging but about listening and being there for someone. The record summary itself is not an inspection report, but something private for the provider.

The manager started to share their recent struggles with staff behaviour at the service. There had been incidents of shouting at residents and aggression towards senior members of the team. Most nights the manager would go home in tears not knowing what to do. They were overwhelmed and over-worked.

When trying to discipline members of staff they threatened to leave. The manager’s anxiety about how to manage COVID-19 without a full team was overwhelming. Their passion to fight the COVID-19 battle, to keep cases low and to keep residents safe had not dimmed despite such pressure.

I tried to comfort the manager as much as I could and highlighted resources available to help including the support offer for registered managers from Skills for Care which included an advice line, webinars, training guidance and local support groups. With the manager’s permission I contacted the service’s head office to make sure they were getting good support from their employer. I also contacted the Local Authority for their assistance.

As promised, a week later I gave them a call to see how they were coping. It was like talking to a different person. The head office had stepped up and helped by using the company disciplinary process and staff attitude had improved. The Local Authority had also helped the manager to access e-learning courses to develop leadership skills.

I will continue to be there for the home and will call every couple of weeks, and they know to give me a ring anytime they like. The ESF conversation sparked a chain of events which resulted in more joined up, collaborative working, and a manager who instead of going home crying is now gaining confidence, growing into the role and feels listened to.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

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