With recruitment challenges, months of pressure and confusion regarding compulsory vaccinations and uncertainty regarding how the care sector needs to move forwards relating to covid, one company in Scarborough is facing it all head on.

Happy Futures Support Specialists Ltd provide independent living for individuals with learning disabilities, mental health and complex needs in Scarborough and Hunmanby. They provide 24hr care and support, seven days a week. They have ridden the rollercoaster of the pandemic, keeping all of their clients completely safe, with as big a focus on the safety and security of their staff. It has been a difficult challenge with the PPE that has had to be worn, additional hours worked due to staff self-isolating and some staff members simply becoming overwhelmed by it all and deciding to change careers.

Chief operating officer Lynne Taylor stated, ‘we have had larger volume of roles to fill than ever before. Where previously we may have two or three vacancies, we now have twenty, and are facing increasing competition with hospitality now paying better rates, who are also in crisis. As we were already paying higher than average wages, the increase from local authorities has had no impact or benefit whatsoever.

We also feel that the salary needs to reflect the work, learning disabilities and mental health is a skilled profession and it takes skilled staff/workers to perform daily tasks, for example PEG training, VNS, Positive Behaviour Support, Cerebral Palsy, Rett’s syndrome, epilepsy, Bipolar. All of these mean you need a workforce to provide the right care, at the right time, with a greater knowledge and understanding and a salary to reflect this level of intense work, it is a hard profession but with so many rewards.’

The care industry has also been heavily impacted by the previous request for all employees to have mandatory covid vaccinations, resulting in many already having left the sector. HR manager for Happy Futures, Minette Keyter explains, ‘We have already lost many valuable employees, who felt they had no choice but to change careers as they did not want to have the covid vaccine. It has been so unsettling for so many people and adding pressure to an industry that has had such a challenging time already.

Happy Futures however is doing its best to rise above these challenges and focus on how to improve the daily working environment for their staff, introducing a new wellbeing programme last year. Minette advises, ‘We introduced the wellbeing programme a number of years ago and have monthly updates for staff, often including goody bags. These focus on their mental and physical health, so have ranged from providing sunscreen and baseball caps in the summer, to a special raffle at Halloween with over £10,000 of prizes. These included vouchers, bikes, technology, and every single staff member won a prize. In other months we may just provide advice and guidance for staying healthy. We want staff to feel involved with the company and valued, and the feedback we have received so far supports this.

For 2022 Happy Futures are issuing all their employees with a wellbeing pack, containing everything from candles to hot chocolate and wellbeing advice books. CEO Angela Fletcher updated us, ‘We think it is so important to look after our employees, not just at work but their overall health. We are so proud of how the whole team continually adapted throughout the pandemic, and the Regional Covid-19 team heroes award we won shows their commitment.’

The wellbeing packs (pictured) will be issued at a Macmillan coffee morning on Wednesday 9 March, whereby the staff can call in and collect them between 11-3pm.