Colleague engagement during Covid-19: How Exemplar Health Care is boosting morale during the pandemic

13 July 2020

A colleague with her thumbs up

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been challenging for many of us, especially colleagues who have been working in our care homes. Engagement and communication has been vital to boost morale and ensure that everyone is up-to-date with the latest guidance and advice.

Exemplar Health Care uses a range of tools and techniques to engage with our 3000+ strong workforce. We’ve been communicating with our colleagues regularly throughout the pandemic via our My Exemplar app, Above and Beyond Award, ‘We Care’ package of support and regular email updates.

My Exemplar – an app for Exemplar Health Care colleagues

My Exemplar is an app for all Exemplar Health Care colleagues that shares real-time updates and stories from our homes, as well as hosting our policies, information about learning and development opportunities and links to useful documents and guidance.

During the pandemic, we’ve used My Exemplar to communicate important information with colleagues, and have created new sections about testing and guidance for Managers, which have received almost 10,000 views between March and June 2020.

The app also hosts a ‘Share your story’ section where colleagues can upload photos and news from our homes. Since March 2020, over 1200 stories have been shared on My Exemplar, and this has played a vital role in sharing best practice and boosting morale.

For example, colleagues at our Neville Court care home in Barnsley shared a story about making ‘You are my sunshine’ cards for relative’s family members – which was a creative idea to share with other Activities Teams in different homes.

David Pancott, Chief Information Officer, says: “My Exemplar is an invaluable tool to engage with our colleagues, especially during Coronavirus (COVID-19). As well as posting important updates, it’s been great to see everyone sharing positive stories and saying thank you to each other. We’ve seen a massive increase in engagement on the app over the past few months, which we hope will continue beyond the pandemic.”

Above and Beyond Award – recognising key workers who go the extra mile

My Exemplar also hosts our Above and Beyond Award, which began at the beginning of the pandemic to reward colleagues who go the extra mile at work. Each week, colleagues can nominate each other through the app, and we randomly select 1 winner to receive a £25 Amazon voucher.

As an example, one of the nominations stated:

“Since starting as CNM at Yarningdale, Emily has bought happiness and positivity to the team. Her attitude towards both staff and service users is consistently brilliant. She is an extremely approachable, helpful and knowledgable leader who isn’t afraid to “muck in” and help when needed. Her management and leadership style is second to none and we couldn’t be happier to have her at Yarningdale. She really is an asset to us.”

This has been a great incentive to recognise and share the wonderful work that our colleagues are doing each and every day. A big well done to all of our nominees and winners.

'We Care' package of support

During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we introduced a ‘We Care’ package of support for our colleagues which includes:

  • free meals on shift
  • free takeaways
  • food ordering service with discounts
  • financial support for colleagues whose children receive free school meals
  • flexible holiday arrangements.

We hope that this extra support has helped to make our colleague’s lives a little easier during this challenging time.

Lynne Waters, HR Director, says: “I’m extremely proud of all of our colleagues who are doing all they can to continue to provide the best high-quality care. As a thank you for their continued hard work, we have launched this package hoping that it will make their lives easier at this difficult time.”

Regular updates for Home Managers

Communication with our Home Managers has been increasingly important during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

We send a weekly email update to our Home Managers and Central Support Services, which gives an overview of what they need to know that week, and includes messages, posters and guidance that Managers can cascade down to their teams.

During the pandemic, our dedicated Clinical Team has been in daily contact with Home Managers. They monitor Government and other guidance and make the required changes to our policies and procedures to ensure that we’re always following Government guidance to reduce the risk of the virus in our homes.  

They also host regular webinars and business update calls which summarise the latest guidance and explain how we’re going to put it into practice, as well as updating the guidance on My Exemplar - colleagues have really appreciated this blended approach to communication throughout the pandemic.

Keeping in touch with colleagues

As well as Managers sharing information with their teams, we’ve been sending a Weekly Coronavirus Update to all colleague’s personal email addresses, to share relevant information and guidance.

Several colleagues have got in touch to show their appreciation for these updates – one colleague replied to say:

“I just wanted to send my personal thanks for all you and your teams help and support at head office. And thank you for the recognition you give to all the staff on the front line, especially during these trying times.”

And another shared: “Thank you for continuing support and feedback to your staff especially during these scary/difficult times.”

Rewarding careers in care with Exemplar Health Care

We know that our colleagues are our greatest asset, which is why we invest in them. Read more about what it’s like to work with us, including our rewards and benefits, on the ‘Careers’ section of our website.

Our response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Read about some of the measures that we’ve taken to reduce the risk of Coronavirus (COVID-19) for our residents and colleagues, here.