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My Life Blog: Caroline Tomlinson: ‘Why investment in clinical support is essential in social care’

One of the key values of My Life is that we always offer person-centred, bespoke care for people who need support in their homes and day-to-day lives. Generic, off-the-peg assistance from a pool of ever-changing staff on minimum wage just doesn’t provide long term benefits for people and their families. We believe the outcomes we want to deliver for people and their families can only come from teams of motivated, skilled people who are invested in the care they provide.

And as we began to help people with complex needs, we realised there was a real need – and added value – in offering clinical support, not just for the people who need it most, but their teams of staff, too. Employing a Clinical Lead – which I have to say is not usual in our sector – has been one of our most important hires of recent times.

We often find, especially when dealing with funders or commissioners, that there is a push-back when it comes to budgeting for or employing additional nursing staff. But actually, it’s not just nursing skills that are required in a complex case, it’s a professionalism and ability to work with a family; even if technically a person doesn’t have continuing healthcare needs, the medication might be so complicated that it needs someone with the level and competence of a Clinical Lead to guide everyone through to a satisfying solution. They don’t have to be in the home all the time. But they need to be on hand when required to ensure high-quality care is being given.

And the rest of the time, of course, the staff need to be confident in the job they’re doing. This is a big part of our Clinical Lead’s role. Kelly coaches our staff to treat those we care for as people with lives rather than patients that need nursing. That requires quite a lot of nuance, adaptability and confidence, so Kelly will sit with our staff as they do their jobs and provide ongoing support and feedback to enhance the more formal training they will have already received.

Clinical Lead Kelly Robinson at work training My Life staff

Clinical Lead Kelly Robinson at work training My Life staff

This isn’t about scrutinising staff, although naturally we have very high standards and aspirations for all our teams. Kelly will be working on shift with them, being a positive role model and empowering people to build confidence, competence and a capability to do the role – and make decisions for themselves.

Which makes sense; many people who work in the care sector are visual, practical learners. You wouldn’t ask a plumber or electrician to do their apprenticeship in a formal classroom setting, and in my view it should be the same with personalised care – for it to work effectively you need to have staff with a skilled approach who can apply not just knowledge but good judgement to what might be a complex situation. Having care staff just logging hours providing basic support doesn’t help anyone.

What Kelly helps drive with her clinical background, professionalism and decision making are the values of My Life. When she steps back from a team, she is confident that they have the skills to provide the best package of care, not just the agreed hours. She is, however, always available to respond to the many challenges that complex care packages bring up – a busy role but one we’re so pleased to be able to provide.

All of which underlines that My Life doesn’t just offer people emotional or physical support; we have an understanding and appreciation of their whole situation and deal with it in a way that has a basis in both high-quality care and clinical excellence. The whole package, in fact.

Caroline Tomlinson, My Life Founder and Chief Executive Officer

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