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Processes to identify the numbers and patterns of staffing required to provide a person-centred, outcome-based service

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

NOTE: This page has been quality assured for 2023 as per our Quality Assurance policy.

For this assessment criterion, you will evaluate your own processes for ensuring effective staffing numbers and patterns, whilst providing person-centred, outcomes-focused care. Some of the factors you will need to consider include the impacts of funding, continuity of care, the importance of flexibility, varying skill sets, identification, and adaptation to changes and the use and management of agency workers.

Organising effective staffing numbers and patterns means having the right employees with the right skills in the right place at the right time. This is a requirement of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014: Regulation 18 – information about this can be found on the Care Quality Commission’s website. Many factors can influence staffing including those described below.

Impacts of funding

A report by the Economic Affairs Committee (2019) identified that the social care sector is “inadequately funded” and “around £8 billion a year in additional funding will be required for adult social care. More will be required in subsequent
years as the population of older and working-age people with care needs continues to grow.” Two years later, and with no formal response from the government, the care sector must continue to maximise the use of its resources with limited funds.

At the local level, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and local authorities tackle funding deficits by introducing efficiency measures such as reducing the number of services available or bringing in systems to improve productivity.

Within your own organisation, you will need to analyse your financial records to identify and reduce or eliminate any expenses that are not cost-effective whilst maintaining high-quality services. Whilst your staffing budget will probably be your biggest expense, it is important that you try to manage enough staff to carry out the work to the required standards without straining the budget with too many staff.

Investigating the cost implications of outsourcing services to the community or creating additional income by charging other organisations for services that you provide may help with this.

Continuity of care

Continuity of care is defined by the Royal College of General Practitioners as “…the extent to which a person experiences an ongoing relationship with a clinical team or member of a clinical team and the coordinated clinical care that progresses smoothly as the patient moves between different parts of the health service.

When you are managing staffing levels, you should try to achieve a level of continuity of care by ensuring that individuals receiving care have familiarity with their staff to enable the growth of strong relationships. It can be difficult for individuals to feel comfortable with their care if they have a new staff member every day, so planning with continuity of care in mind can help to ensure that services remain person-centred and outcome-focused.

Importance of flexibility

There will be a need for staff to be flexible in their approach to their role and this should be explained during the recruitment process as well as documented in their job description. This could be in terms of the services and settings that they work at or their working hours. This is essential because there will be times when team members are absent (e.g. sickness, annual leave etc.) and their shifts will need to be covered by others.

Varying skill sets

It is also important when planning staffing numbers and patterns that there is a mix of skillsets and opportunities for employees to train in other areas to provide cover when needed.

Identification and adaptation to changes

You will also need to plan for and adapt to changes in service provision. This could be because of new legislation or best practices or a change in the needs of the individuals that your organisation provides care services for – for example, if an individual deteriorates they may require more support. This may impact the number of staff that you require and their shift patterns.

Use and management of agency workers

Using agency workers can be more expensive than in-house staff but sometimes they will be a necessity to fill any gaps whilst maintaining a high level of care. Therefore agency workers are usually utilised on a short-term basis and so may form part of your short-term staffing or contingency plans. A good breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of agency workers can be found here.

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