In-home care MD launches smartphone app for wellbeing of carers
The long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic can be felt across multiple sectors - but perhaps none more so than the health and social care industries. With the relentless pressure put on those on the frontline to support the vulnerable members of society struggling to remain safe during the pandemic, it comes as no surprise that their mental health would come into question. With World Mental Health Day fast approaching – and a recent report revealing that the pandemic has caused 75% of social care workers’ mental health to decline1 – the care sector is crying out for more support for those on the front line.
Dan Archer, Managing Director of Visiting Angels UK, has utilised his years of experience as a leader in the industry to launch a revolutionary new initiative that promises to relieve the emotional pressure felt by care workers in the wake of the pandemic.
AngelCare, at its core, is a caregiver welfare programme that equips care workers with unlimited access to counselling, wellbeing and peer-to-peer resources. The new resource has been devised with the support of Psychiatric Consultant and mental health specialist, Ishbel Straker. Ishbel, who comes with a wealth of experience in working with NHS frontline workers suffering with the psychological implications of working in the healthcare industry on a daily basis, is keen to replicate this level of support for the thousands of people working in the care industry around the country.
“My interests are occupational health and mainly psychological stress and performance,” explained Ishbel. “One of the industries I’m really interested in and passionate about working in is the healthcare industry. I started to look at nursing homes and homecare around 12-18 months ago, just as the pandemic started to take hold because I was aware that the stress levels of the staff would be increasing - a lot of doors got shut in my face. Even though the recognition was there for the mental health strain on the staff, there wasn’t the investment. Dan connected with me on LinkedIn and we started to talk about his carer-centric strategy for Visiting Angels and it really sat well with me.”
Ishbel’s expertise, coupled with Dan’s passion for doing right by his carers, has meant the duo have been able to create a whole host of additional, complimentary resources that caregivers can access whenever they feel in need of emotional support.
“At Visiting Angels, our entire ethos is built around the fundamental need to put care workers at the heart of the business,” said Dan. “AngelCare is simply the next step in our fight against the misconception that working in the care sector is low-paid work for under-skilled individuals. We want our network of over 200 care givers to feel reassured that their health, wellbeing and sense of accomplishment are of paramount important to us – AngelCare is a real testament to this. We’ve invested significantly in creating the initiative to take pressure off our network as we continue to navigate this new normal.”
AngelCare encompasses a full range of free resources that care givers can access at any time. This ranges from group therapy sessions, to unlimited access to grief therapy – following the loss of a client – and advice on living a healthy and balanced lifestyle. AngelCare even encompasses a smartphone app that allows caregivers to anonymously speak with other caregivers around the nation about their own experiences, sharing a virtual hug and words of encouragement and support. The new initiative, exclusive to Visiting Angels, was unveiled at the brand’s national conference in August and is currently being piloted at the first UK office, based in Sheffield. The smartphone app and supportive materials will then be made available to all 20 offices from December this year.
“We’re confident that this initiative will have a long-term impact on the immense pressure felt by caregivers across the board, as we have often found that new technologies and strategies we devise at Visiting Angels are replicated by other agencies once the success of that particular initiative can be seen. What’s crucial to us is that the people within our network, whether that’s our franchisees, support staff or caregivers, feel supported during what is still proving to be an unsettling period. We’re very much looking forward to receiving feedback from our network and to witnessing the positive change AngelCare will make for years to come,” added Dan.
For more information about Visiting Angels, visit www.visiting-angels.co.uk/