Across the healthcare sector, business and working culture environments have become central to employee wellbeing. Most recently, the challenges of the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis have forced workplace culture, and employee welfare to take centre stage as a critical investment in business strategy.
As we continue to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, public services, most notably health, and social care are battling against increasing pressures and rising demand as financial constraints, staff shortages and winter pressures continue to take their toll on the industry.
The fifth phase of a UK-wide study exploring the impact of providing health and social care during the COVID-19 pandemic, conducted by Queen’s University reported that 60% of healthcare professionals are feeling overwhelmed by pressures, and a further 37% have the desire to leave their occupation. At the same time, Statista reported that the biggest perceived problem facing the healthcare system in 2022 was not enough staff (56% of respondents).
However, there are health and social care organisations that are investing in transformational approaches to meet the unique pressures experienced by frontline workers. Provide CIC (Community Interest Company), a social enterprise with its headquarters in Essex delivers a diverse portfolio of more than 55 health and social care services to children and adults in NHS and community care settings across the UK.
Provide has built and nurtured a culture through its vision and values of ‘Transforming Lives through Care, Innovation and Compassion’ that aims to allow every colleague to have the practical support in place to meet the pressures of work and home, have access to wellbeing and financial support, and work in a culture that supports agility and innovation.
Through its investment in its people, Provide is bucking the trend and seeing record levels of engagement and staff satisfaction thanks to various initiatives. Its most recent staff survey in December 2022 passed the previous benchmark of 88% employee engagement, to an impressive 90% staff engagement with a further 90% of employees claiming they were proud of where they worked.
Recent research by The King’s Fund shows that NHS and healthcare professionals are 50% more likely to experience chronic stress, a known contributor to burnout. Factors such as staff shortages, high workload, and pressures to maintain high-quality patient care all contribute to burnout in NHS and healthcare workers across the country.
Provide Group Chief Executive Mark Heasman joined the organisation in June 2020. He says, “Caring for the well-being of our colleagues has always been a priority, but everything shifted in March 2020. Suddenly we had unprecedented challenges at every touchpoint and were having to make real-time decisions for our own people and those we care for.
“This is where our organisational culture of innovation really came through. As an independent organisation, we could be agile in our thinking and actions, and our colleagues knew they were supported in getting the job done.”
Within the first 48 hours of the pandemic, Provide colleagues had developed and deployed one of the UK’s leading test and trace Apps, and within a month had digitally mobilised hundreds of volunteers to support the most vulnerable people in the community.
In the following weeks and months, many critical services had been transformed to deliver virtual care. Provide delivered a self-referral triage platform for the Musculoskeletal Service (MSK), transformed access to Children’s Services and rapidly introduced Virtual Wards and digital access to healthcare.
Many of the collaborations and digital transformation delivered through Provide and its partners have been replicated as best practice in healthcare. The Bed Bureau, a one system-wide resource, with common oversight and acceptance criteria was developed by Provide Digital and rapidly introduced to reduce patient waiting times through a single community bed service. Collaborating with hospitals across the region, the Bed Bureau enables visible control to effectively manage all bed availability across the collaborative network efficiently.
Provide Community is unique as a CIC in the sector, with 99% of its staff (members) signed up to employee ownership, represented by a Board of Governors from across the organisation. Throughout the year, Provide Community reaches out to its members requesting nominations for charities and community groups that they feel would benefit from grants, donations and match funding. Since 2011, Provide Community has donated £3.5 million to local charities, organisations and community groups through Governor funding and its strategic community grants.
In 2020, Provide Community also launched its vision to ‘Transform Lives’ through its values of care, innovation, and compassion,’ with a people-focused strategy. Group CEO Mark Heasman’s ethos that an organisation’s infrastructure only works effectively if its people are supported, valued, and heard meant that the business strategy placed Provide’s workforce at its core.
A crucial element of the new business strategy included delivering adequate mental and physical well-being support for Provide colleagues and implementing a series of employee-focused initiatives. With more than a third of healthcare professionals reporting they feel overwhelmed at least once a week, a responsive and intensive result. To offer a solution to the unique challenges and stresses experienced by health and social workers, Provide Community launched its first Wellbeing Week in the summer of 2022.
The employee-owned organisation hosted a series of practical workshops, both in-person and online to suit the requirements of all Provide colleagues. Across the week the workshops focused on mental, physical, and financial wellbeing. The schedule for the week featured several ‘must-see’ workshops, including an exclusive cooking session with food writer and activist Jack Monroe, who brought their ‘Cooking on Bootstrap’ show to Provide headquarters.
As a direct result of Provide’s investment in its people and culture, the social enterprise emerged from the pandemic with one of the most comprehensive colleague development and wellbeing programmes in health and social care. Provide’s innovation and agility, driven by colleagues, have been recognised and replicated at a national level.
Provide is supported at every step by a strong leadership team, which includes a board of volunteer staff Governors that represent the voices of all Provide colleagues, who know values and culture by driving success at every level. Their strategic aim is to ‘grow in size and influence’ whilst staying true to a vision of ‘transforming lives by treating, caring for and educating people’.
The vision is that as Provide continues to grow, it can increase its social value, transform people’s lives and continue to nurture its culture for the benefit of its employees.
To find out more about Provide Community visit www.provide.org.uk