July Staff Forum Update

The staff forum met on Wednesday 31 July to look at the topic of Communication and Planning, review the staff survey and follow up actions from the last meeting and staff suggestions. The following attended; Adeelah Khan (standing in Astrid Stubbs), Alan Botterill, Amanda Evans, Claudia Cavanagh, Julia Murray Logue, Jo Best, Laura King, Robert Adams, Sharon Bridle, Sue Knight and Vanessa Hasted. The meeting was chaired by Julia Murray Logue with notes taken by Alan Botterill. Bee Harradine-Miles and Bernie Butler were unable to attend.

As Christine Virginie Communications, PR and Engagement Manager was joining the forum, we started with the topic of communication and planning. The members of the forum felt that the situation had improved since the topic was raised at the staff exchange last autumn. Staff appreciated the circulation of monthly and quarterly reports and were now better informed on how CSWS was performing against its contract.

Suggestions to improve communication discussed were;

  • To reduce email overload by ensuring non urgent communications are collated into the newsfeed to rather than cloud emails

  • The old format Newsfeed was preferred as it allowed staff to scroll down and skip items less relevant to them, a search facility would also be useful

  • Urgent ‘call to action’ emails are clearly identified in the title

  • Smaller circulation lists such as staff based in North / South or teams, so staff get emails more relevant to them

  • A process for circulating new and revised policies

  • ‘Goal posts’ in terms of service requirements were regularly subject to change such as changes to carers assessments, so it was important that systems are in place to inform and train staff so they can keep on top of the changes.

  • The ops team already regularly review activities across teams to avoid overlap and redundant activity

  • Desk top messaging when staff first log in would be a useful way of updating staff

  • Three staff exchanges per year were useful and felt to be the right number

  • An organisation calendar (possibly building on the training calendar) would be useful so training and meetings can be avoided in successive weeks which would particularly assist part time staff

  • SharePoint would benefit from a clear out of duplicate files, old documents etc. and a better search facility

  • The staff member contact list was useful but responsibility for updating and loading onto SharePoint wasn’t clear

  • An organisational chart with photos would be useful

Christine also took away the forum’s ideas for a core message for CSWS as part of wider work on reviewing external communications.

Julia updated the forum on actions from last meeting. There had been a very positive response from staff on the service related holiday which in future years will be added at the start of the holiday year. The Leadership Team had considered a proposal to buy and sell additional holiday but felt that it would be too difficult to manage with the current demands on the service. It would be looked at again as part of a wider review of benefits. The transfer to Workplace Options had gone smoothly and a communication would be going out shortly to remind staff and volunteers of the service. Vanessa Hasted had provided information on Wednesday evening and Saturday morning response line activity over the first quarter April to June. She explained that the evening was a WSCC contractual requirement and Saturday mornings had been introduced as a response to demand from working carers. Although the number of phone enquiries on Saturdays varied, the demand with web site enquiries was there so there were no plans to change the response line hours.

The forum then discussed the staff survey. Some felt the questions were less well understood and the forum felt it would be helpful to add a comment section after each question instead of one at the end. Also whether some guidance could be included. It was also agreed to look at any potential additional questions at November’s meeting prior to resurveying in December.  Julia explained the ideas discussed so far at other meetings to address the areas identified for improvement and the forum were supportive.  A number of members were unaware that older laptops would be replaced as part of the Window 10 upgrade. Some confusion is caused when leavers phone numbers and emails are recycled to new staff and staff would benefit from reissuing advice on synching new staff to their phones. Supervision was valued but members of the forum were keen to see more consistency across the organisation through a standard form and training for managers. Also more training both in specific skills/ information such as end of life but also behavioural training. The recent customer services training delivered by Debbie Stanford had been well received. Opportunities for individuals to identify and be supported to attend external training or complete qualification as part of their continuing professional development were also valued.  It would be beneficial to allow staff who are interested, the opportunity to shadow other teams. Julia said she would take these comments back to the Leadership Team for inclusion in the action plan.

The forum then discussed 4 suggestions from staff.

The forum were supportive of a proposal to allow part time staff working Mondays to work another day in a bank  holiday week for bank holidays over their pro rata entitlement. Julia would take this forward to the Leadership team.

There had been a request for a salary review for hospital staff which although outside of the remit of the forum would be considered as part of a desk based review of roles and responsibilities next year.

The forum had a suggestion for additional service related holidays after 20 years’ service. They felt the current amounts of holiday were appropriate at this level but liked the idea of a thank you gift. Julia said she would take this suggestion to the Leadership Team.

A suggestion had been made that each office should have a nominated ‘office manager role’ in terms of office equipment, supplies etc. Vanessa said that she and Kathy as Carer Services Managers shared that responsibility the office premises. Kathy had responsibility for Crawley, Vanessa for Littlehampton and they shared the Worthing office.

The final suggestion was for the forum to look at the topic of environment and sustainability which the forum supported and will become the first topic for 2020.

Under any other business it was raised that staff representatives were now management heavy. Julia reminded the forum that they had agreed in December 2018 to review how the forum was working after 12 months so it was agreed to review the makeup of representatives as part of this at the first meeting in 2020.


  • Update Leadership Team on Communication, Staff Survey Action Plan and long service gift suggestions JML

  • Reissue phone synching advice VH

Pending until new CRM established

  • Investigate hours worked / service demands AB / Leadership team

  • Look at feasibility of a desk based review of roles and responsibilities with the staff forum moderating to develop proposal for Leadership Team and Board NY / JML

Thank you as before to those of you who spoke to a staff representative or sent comments via the staff forum web page. We welcome comments and suggestions at any time either through a forum member, to the Staff Forum mailbox or anonymously through the staff forum page on our website

The next meeting is on the 30 October where the topic will be Training and Development.

These notes can also be found on sharepoint here https://carerssupportws.sharepoint.com/:w:/r/_layouts/15/doc2.aspx?sourcedoc=%7B7CA7AEF8-7D1E-43AD-8A77-830F56630158%7D&file=Staff%20forum%20July%20%20Highlights%20and%20actions%2031.7.2019.docx&action=default&mobileredirect=true&cid=ccf8d625-40b7-4599-8c64-b6d68152142d