Christmas is fast approaching, with only 2 weeks left to plan and get ready for the festive period.
In my last column, I wrote about activities and entertainment, but I know first-hand that there’s a lot more to think about, from rotas to ordering supplies.
So, buckle up for my whistle-stop tour of the most important things to get ready before Christmas.
Let the preparations begin!
If you haven’t done so, get your rotas sorted and sent out to your teams – this will mean that staff can make plans over the festive season. Understandably, some care staff would prefer to spend time with their families than working, especially on Christmas Day, but understandably, social care is a 24-hour role, so someone will have to cover the shift. But you can definitely reduce the impact of this.
One of the best ways you can sweeten the deal would be enhanced pay. If this isn’t possible in your service, consider:
- Time off in lieu
- Alternating Christmas and New Year shifts
- Allocating annual leave
- Swapping shifts
- Noting who’s done what shifts, so next year the allocations can be different.
I always find these help people feel more valued!
Sickness and absence
Winter is fast upon on and as a result, you’ll likely see an increased rate of absence across the festive period with staff being ill, especially with the Omicron variant on the rise and many staff leaving the sector following the recent mandatory COVID vaccinations.
So, it’s important to have a contingency plan of who can cover and what you’ll do if this happens. One idea would be to have on-call staff, who are paid a retainer.
Now’s the time to dig out that contingency plan, do a dummy run and check everything is in place, and review as necessary. This should cover:
- Adverse weather, considering both hot and cold weather
- Building issues, such as lifts, laundry, catering etc.
- Equipment failure
- Fuel shortages
- IT and electrical failure
- Quality issues
- Staff absences and self-isolation
- Supplier failure
- Terrorist incidents
- Utility failures, such as boilers, heating, water etc.
As always, the list isn’t exhaustive.
Gifting and cards
It’s important to ensure that any presents and Christmas cards that need wrapping and sending are done so they arrive at their destinations with plenty of time – we all know what the Christmas post is like!
Visiting in care homes
I know many care homes are stopping or reducing visits with the increase of COVID cases. It’s important we do as much as we can to reduce loneliness and minimise the impact this has on wellbeing.
Some ideas could include:
- Allowing residents to go with their friends/family to spend Christmas at theirs
- Outdoor visits under cover (and a heater!)
- Visiting with a Perspex screen in between the person you’re supporting and their visitor
- Video calls, telephone calls, recorded messages etc.
Having worked most Christmases over the last 15 years, I have no doubt in my mind that there will be issues with communication and consistency over the festive period – but being prepared reduces the impact of this.
With several bank holidays across the festive period, lots of supermarkets and suppliers will be closed. So, be sure to stock up on all the things you need, like food and drink, PPE, COVID-19 lateral flow and PCR tests, activity supplies and first aid equipment.
Most importantly, don’t forget to order repeat prescriptions. Your local pharmacist is always your first point of call for this but if you need any advice, 111 is available 24/7, even on Christmas Day. If you’re supporting people in the community, it’s equally as important to make sure they’ve stocked up medication to see them through Christmas.
An ever-growing list
With so much to think about, it can be incredibly overwhelming to juggle everything (we’re all human at the end of the day). I always find prioritising what needs doing helps me keep on top of everything. I usually do this by:
- Having a list of all my tasks
- Identifying what’s important – what am I trying to achieve?
- Prioritising based on importance and urgency
- Avoiding competing priorities
- Considering effort needed
- Reviewing the list and being realistic.