What Is Safe Staffing?

Safe staffing is about having enough staff, who have the right values and skills, to deliver high quality care and support. It involves: having safe staffing levels, including putting contingency plans in place recruiting the right people, with the right values, skills and experience to deliver safe care and support doing the right recruitment checks ensuring staff are competent and safe to do their role. Getting this right means far more than achieving a good inspection rating, it means that people receive safe and effective care and support that’s responsive to their needs. If you get it wrong, you could put your staff and the people you support at risk.

For example, staff shortages put services under extreme pressure and can mean staff have to choose what care can or can’t be delivered that day. This could lead to neglect and/or a safeguarding incident, a damning inspection and reputational damage. It can also impact your existing workforce. For example if you have good staff who routinely work through their breaks or have a poor work-life balance due to working extra shifts, it can lead to mental ill-health and decreased motivation in your service.

“If you don’t have enough staff you may put too much pressure on the existing workforce – asking them to cover more than they can, can cause people to burn out. My organisation manages over 600,000 domiciliary visits a year so it’s important we have trust in our processes and systems. As chief executive, I know every week how many hours of care we need to deliver and how many staff we’ve got to do this. We have a process of capacity planning so that I know how much flexibility we have with staffing levels each week. This helps me to identify challenging periods, such as school holidays, and ensures that we can respond to them” – Melanie Weatherley, Chief Executive, Walnut Care and Skills for Care Fellow.

Read the Guide to safe staffing

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