Embrace HR Aylesbury Psychology of Case Management

Thank you to Dr Shabnam Berry-Khan for allowing us to share the transcript of her recent interview with Cecily Lalloo.

The Psychology of Case Management podcast with Dr Shabnam Berry-Khan, Director of PsychWorks Associates is intended to help Personal Injury professionals use psychological ideas to achieve more for catastrophically injured clients by maximising rehabilitation outcomes and achieving the best level settlements possible.

This particular podcast looks at managing care teams through an HR lens, and the expert eye of Cecily Lalloo, whose company – Embrace HR Limited located in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire – has a specialism in care sector HR, including case management. She talks to us about the importance of empathy, training, communication and relationships, working at the speed of the family, and sometimes having to let people go. Cecily is even writing a book on the subject.

Listen at: www.podbean.com/ew/pb-vwhjr-10fc130.

You can view all published episodes at: psychologyofcasemanagement.podbean.com.

The numbers below relate to the timing of where you can find the particular comments on the Podcast.

Season Two, Episode 5: HR matters in Personal Injury work, with Cecily Lalloo, Director of Embrace HR

Shabnam 0:05

Welcome to the Psychology of Case Management podcast: the show that helps you use psychological ideas to strengthen your relationship with your catastrophically injured clients and their professional networks, so you can achieve more for your clients and feel more fulfilled in your role.

Shabnam 0:20

Hello, and welcome to today’s episode. I’m Dr Shabnam Berry-Khan. And today’s topic is human resources – HR, if you will – and the role it plays in personal injury work. It’s not a union that I – before being a case manager or treating psychologist – would have ever thought would go together. But as I’ve progressed and done this for a number of years now, I realize that HR work, in the work we do in case management, is absolutely crucial to the smooth running of what I understand as being the single biggest component of any personal injury claim, which is the care. It is crucial that we get that right because it has an impact on rehabilitation. We all know that, but it’s the hardest thing to get right as well. So, with that in mind, and thinking about what are the factors that will help us manage – from a human resource perspective – our care teams for our personally injured clients? How will we get the best out of them? What is it that we need to think about? Today, I have Cecily Lalloo from Embrace HR, a company that I have worked with for a little while now, and I have a lot of respect for in terms of their HR support. And it’s a real honour to have Cecily talk to me today in the podcast. So welcome, Cecily!

Cecily 1:50

Hello, Shabnam. And thank you very much for inviting me.

Shabnam 1:56

Not at all, thank you for your time. Because I know you’re a busy lady running Embrace HR, which – now, correct me if I’m wrong – I believe is a specific HR company solely for personal injury clients, or for case management, if you will. Is that right? Have I got that right?

Cecily 2:17

We work with case managers and deputies and families. We do have a few long-term commercial clients, but not many that we look after. Primarily, our work is with personal injury: looking after families, case managers and deputies, and supporting them. But what is a very big part of the scheme of things is care, and the employees who look after our clients.

Shabnam 2:49

Yes, because – like I said earlier – it feels like HR and Personal Injury work isn’t necessarily something that I would – and I think our audience probably have worked this out by now – but it’s not a natural fit, for me, because I think of it as… HR has been something that’s linked to bigger organisations: you need lots of people to justify and warrant HR involvement. But ultimately, it’s really about – I think you said it to me earlier – it’s really about relationships.

Cecily 3:21

Absolutely. And wherever you are, there’s some sort of relationship, and what I say is, whether you’re working for a big corporate, or working in a small organisation, or very much as case managers and teams working with clients, there’s still that employment relationship. Whichever way you look at it, you still have the same issues, you still have the same obligations to the employees, whether they are working in the home, a private person’s home, or working in a big office or big warehouse, whatever it is. Those relationships are still there, they’re still the employee/employer obligations.

Shabnam 4:09

Yes, I think you’re right. Actually, as long as you’re employing someone, HR becomes relevant, I guess. And I suppose my question for you is: why personal injury work? Why case management? You could be an HR member of a massive corporate somewhere, multinational… I don’t know. And like I said, that’s my stereotype of HR, but it’s such a niche, specialist area. So tell me about your journey into HR, I guess, and then eventually into personal injury work. What’s your story?

Cecily 4:40

Right. Okay. I was an HR manager for a small company, local company, after I’d worked for lots of corporates, and working for a smaller company – started off with 20 people, grew to 70, and then came back to about 50. And I realized that the same issues are, as I mentioned before, in a corporate, the same thing happens in a smaller organisation.

By chance, I was actually contacted by a case management company. I did not know about case management: I didn’t know what it was about. I was asked to do an investigation for a case management company. And that’s my first route into case management. And working with that company, they asked me to do a little bit of HR. And I realized this is a sector that I didn’t know anything about. And strangely enough, a few months later, I had a phone call from an independent case manager, who said, “I need some HR help. Can you help me?” And through my work with a case manager company, I understood a little bit about what she was talking about: not completely, but a bit. And that’s when my eyes were opened.

One of the first clients she took me to was a family. And I think my heart went out to Mum, because I could see her point: the case manager was talking to her about how they can help her by getting staff to help her with her child, and she was saying, “Oh, but you know, it means that my home isn’t going to be my home. I’m going to have people here who I don’t know.” And it took quite a long time: it took quite a few weeks, maybe even months, to get her to understand that it’s to help her, because she was so tired. She didn’t have a lot of sleep, because she was looking after her child. And eventually, we did get started, started to get people in.

I was talking to her a lot about the type of person she wants, and what the person’s going to be doing, what they’re going to help her with. And I could see that maybe there’s something that I could help with. Maybe it’s something that I can… because I feel that HR is a very people-orientated place, and I felt a lot of empathy, I think. And through the case manager I worked with, I’ve been introduced to other case managers, and it’s just gone from there. And we now work with quite a few deputies, case managers and families as well.

Shabnam 7:31

That’s really interesting. So it’s something about the client group that you’re working with that is particularly appealing, or that hooked you in, from the sounds of it. You mentioned empathy: my stereotype again, and forgive me, Cecily. It’s because I know you well, I feel like I can say this… the stereotype of HR, in my mind, is quite cold, unemotional people who just – as you mentioned earlier, they have a… there is a framework that you’re working within, effectively. And that almost suggests to me that it’s not a place where you can express empathy, necessarily, that it’s kind of fairly clear-cut, in a way. So I’m really intrigued by this idea of you being actually hooked in with the ability to be empathic within your role as an HR professional.

Cecily 8:31

I think whenever you’re with people, when you’re dealing with people, it is about how people feel. At the same time, as HR people, we need to be able to understand the legalities about employing people, and that’s maybe where the ‘cold’ part comes in. We do follow process… and I know it can be frustrating for people like case managers as well, and families, because sometimes when you’re following a process, it takes much longer than you think it should take.

At the same time, I think that bringing somebody in, helping them to understand what the contract is about, setting expectations from both the family side, as well as the case manager, and then what you expect of your employee and making those communications, that builds every relationship very clearly, and it’s a continuous journey.

So I think you have to have empathy, because we work in a very sensitive area, and I think understanding who our clients are is really important for us.

Shabnam 9:50

Yes, relationships are key. I mean, I would say that: I’m a psychologist, and obviously a case manager, but relationships do feel like they’re key to the work you do as well. And I guess that doesn’t… HR is obviously the overall term for recruitment, and then supporting support workers once they’ve been appointed. But I guess that relationship-building starts from the beginning?

Cecily 10:18

Yes, like everything in life, there’s a cycle, isn’t there? There is a start, a middle and an end, and recruitment is no different. So we start when we decide we need somebody to help us and take them on as an employee; the middle is the actual management.

At the start, also, I think it’s about getting to know people. When you have a relationship, a personal relationship, whether it’s boyfriend, girlfriend, your husband, your family, relationships are things that you you choose – not everything, I suppose: not always family – but you choose a lot of your relationships. Whereas when you’re in a work situation, there’s the recruitment process, and you haven’t built up that ‘know, like, and trust’… you’ve got to take somebody on, because you need their help. And that’s where you start nurturing that relationship.

So I say very much the contract is key, because the contract helps with the expectations. It sets out the way you’re going to work, what you expect, and also what the employee can expect from you, as an employer. It says exactly what it is you expect them to do; it will help with training.

And I think building that relationship means making sure that you’re talking all the time. I very often say to our clients, we don’t always have to have an annual review meeting. Because if you have an annual review meeting, it means you’re only seeing somebody once a year, and you’re having talks about how they’re doing once a year, whereas if you have something more often, like maybe every six weeks or even less, you can start building those relationships earlier. If there’s any issues, you deal with them straight away: nip things in the bud, as it were.

I think that’s what the relationships are. And in a family home, it’s so important, because parents have already gone through quite a lot of trauma, before they come to start taking people on as employees, and the employees should be there to support them. And they will be able to support if they know what’s expected of them.

Shabnam 12:55

I think that’s so important. I’m really glad that the trauma context, the unfamiliarity of having people in your home (which is where I guess that empathy comes in), and so that sense of trust and needing to nurture not just your support worker… not just the employee, but actually the family as an agent within that relationship, and within that dynamic… It’s so important, and it’s great that that is how you frame any involvement. With all these ideas about trauma and the context of people being in a client’s home, where they would normally not have had other people in their home, and these people have a responsibility too… there’s a legal framework around them. I can see how it starts to make sense when you said that actually the frameworks and the processes that you need to follow can sometimes take quite a long time to go through, to implement. I’m a big fan of the saying “You’re only as fast as the slowest person,” and I suppose it’s not just about the side of the relationship that is our support workers and the people that we’re employing, but it’s also the family: that context, that trauma context and with clients who have already had a lot happen to them. They need to be brought up to… they need to be worked with at the speed that they are coming at, with all of this.

Cecily 14:30

Yes. And I always remember – going back to one of my clients, again – I went in with a case manager… and I do like going to meet our clients wherever it’s possible (and obviously it hasn’t been possible). And the more we work with clients, if they’re too far away it’s obviously a cost also for us to go and meet them, but we can do it via things like Zoom. etc. So the clients and I had a mum say, “Well, I can’t come down to my kitchen anymore – it’s not my kitchen – on a Saturday morning, and just be in my pyjamas and make myself a cup of coffee, because there’s somebody always in the home with us. It’s not as if it’s our place.”

And obviously some families have got a place where their care staff have got a separate area, but not as often as that. And, you know, when we are working with people, those are the things we need to take into consideration. So, for instance, if we need to speak to a care worker, a support worker, it may not be possible to speak to them in the home because other care staff are around, and you have a family around. And if you want to talk about something private, you’ve got to find a different way to talk about it. The same thing with parents: now, I had a mum and dad – parents – who used to say they used to go to sit out in their car when they wanted to have a private talk, because there was always somebody in the home. So they would have a little drive, or go to the shops, or something to that effect.

And these are things that, as HR – as I said before, we follow these processes – we’ve still got to take into consideration that sometimes HR doesn’t come high on the list of people in the home, of important things. But at the same time it’s our responsibility also to help to educate the case managers we work with and the family, where necessary, that there are certain things that we need to do.

For instance, let’s take something like DBS [Disclosure and Barring Service]: we need to clear somebody off their DBS before they can actually go into somebody’s home, and it sometimes take a bit longer than you think it is going to take, fetching documentation, maybe taking longer than you want it to take. But all those things are important to be able to comfortably say, okay, you know, we’ve cleared somebody: happy for them to go and work with you now.

From the beginning of a relationship, the more you talk to people, the more you have that communication. And what I find is that very often we have issues that have been because it’s not clear to everybody what needs to happen.

A family took on a support worker: lovely person, just the right personality to fit in with family, but once she started working, it was clear that she didn’t have all the skills at the level that it was expected. There were things that we could do – she was still in a probationary period, so we could have said, “Okay, this isn’t working. We think we should finish, bring our relationship to an end.” But the parents really liked her. She was a lovely person, and she got on really well with their child. And so what we said is, okay, let’s look at what she needs.

And we started working with her on a little training programme. She didn’t pick things up as quickly as we wanted her to. And we’ve given her a timeframe of what she needed to do and how she needed to do it. She had a lot of input from the team leader who was there at the time, and she didn’t seem to be grasping what was needed for the care.

This actually went on for a while, and she was there for almost 18 months. She would improve, and then she’d go back and she would drop down a little bit. And eventually we said to her, “We need to have a look at what’s happening now.” And in talking to her, we guided the case manager and found out that she was actually having personal issues. So although she was learning, she wasn’t taking things in. And by working with her through a performance management type of role, we were able to make sure that she understood what her expectations were, and she was provided with the right training. And eventually something clicked, and we were really pleased that she turned things around.

And it was very much because of the support she had from both the case manager and the case manager communicating with the team leader, as well as the family, that things turned around and she started to work really well, settled in, and she’s still there a few years later. It made a big difference. But it can be frustrating.

Shabnam 20:18

That’s a real success story, I feel: the performance management scenario, if you like, because it doesn’t always turn out like that, does it?

Cecily 20:27

No, it doesn’t.

Shabnam 20:29

And that’s when we need you, Cecily!

Cecily 20:33

And when it doesn’t, what I say is just follow the rules, or follow the way that you know you should manage, and you should be okay. Because at the end of the day, if you think about it, it’s how you do things and how you treat people.

I have worked with someone that we needed to terminate, and it was actually through a redundancy, but by communicating openly and as far as possible, as honest as you can, that person actually, at the end of it turned around and said, “Thank you, you know, thank you for being respectful of my feelings, and of how I felt.” And I think that’s part of it, we’re all people, and we all have got feelings, and it’s how we deal with them, and with people.

I know it can be frustrating, because sometimes when you follow the rules, especially if somebody has been with you for quite a long time, and maybe things aren’t quite working out where you want them to work out, in a small team, working with families, it affects morale. And sometimes you’ve got to take a stronger view. And it might be making decisions that you’re not comfortable making. And I always say: as a case manager, talk to your HR person, because they can help you through it.

Shabnam 22:04

Yes, and I would say, with that idea of managing expectations, and the fact that there are rules to follow, and the process can mean that it takes longer than one would ideally like it to take, there is that… I call it ‘funk’. There’s a ‘funk’ in the air that happens, and it’s not nice for the family, it’s not nice for the team. And I suppose that idea of managing expectations has to extend beyond the employee and the case manager, in that sense.

There is that bringing in, and I think you use the word ‘nurturing’ before, and I think that’s quite a nice word to apply to this situation. There is that sense of kind of nurturing the family into what’s going on: inducting them, and making sure that they’re aware of the process.

I think you used the word ‘education’ as well. There’s a lot of education: for the family, for the care teams – for the other members of the care teams, not the person who is in the spotlight, so to speak – but you can’t overcommunicate in some ways. That’s how I feel, having gone through sort of this type of process, and certainly with you, Cecily, and your team: it feels like you can’t say too much sometimes in terms of following the rules and iterating and reiterating what the process is.

Cecily 23:36

Right, and you know, Shabnam, I think working in the personal injury sector, it’s a very different organisation to a normal business. It’s not your normal organisation: you’ve got to take so many people’s views into consideration.

Shabnam 24:01

And that’s really tricky, isn’t it? Because the family isn’t the employer, but they are the context: they are the environment in which people are working. And often it comes up, doesn’t it? You know, “The family are interfering,” or the family almost are perceived as an unimportant part of the employment arrangement. And sometimes I feel, as a case manager, that needs to be balanced. Because actually, no, you’re right, on some level: the framework doesn’t almost consider them. I know we raise it in contracts and person specs and things like that. But in terms of the way we tend to think about them, almost the family is the weakest link, or the least important of the links. I don’t know if that’s fair to say, but that’s sometimes something I see. But that actually they are quite important in the case management role because obviously we’re working on behalf of the clients, with their families, so actually their perception and their position in the work we do is actually ranked much higher.

Cecily 25:12

This is something that I have noticed, Shabnam: that very often – because the family are so close to the employment – it’s quite difficult to draw that line, if you like, between somebody in your home almost every day, you’re obviously going to get to know them quite well. But at the same time, you are, if you like, in place of the employer: as a family member, you still have to be mindful of the employment obligations that you have on behalf of the employer. And it’s actually something that I’ve thought a lot about, and I’m actually writing a book.

Shabnam 25:54

Cecily, I know, I can’t wait. It’s going to be great! But tell us about it.

Cecily 26:01

It’s coming along much slower than I expected. But hopefully it’s going to be geared to case managers; maybe deputies would like to share with some of their clients. But looking very much at the family and helping them to understand, although they are not the employer, they have got an obligation, as I’ve mentioned, because they have people in their home who are employed. Helping them to understand the things that they need to be aware of.

It’s not going to be a very heavy book, but something that’s going to hopefully be a reminder. You know: what are the things that you need to think about when you’re recruiting? Because not everybody’s got a case manager; not everyone’s fortunate enough to have a case manager. So… things that parents need to think about. And I’m hoping that through the case managers that we work with, and the deputies we work with, maybe more people can get hold of this information.

Shabnam 27:03

Yes, I do think… it is really unusual, because I think the other thing is case managers are not… we don’t necessarily have the skills to do the kind of – not to say that we can’t develop the skills, but it’s not a natural skill set for case managers to have – recruitment, managing disputes, grievances, balancing all the expectations, and the family who are part of our clients’ sphere, if you like, whose priorities we want to uphold, and then the care team are thinking, well, the most important thing is our client, and what’s been set out in our contract… Everyone’s priorities, and everyone’s emphasis is that bit different. And so we as case managers have to kind of juggle that, while maintaining that rapport with our families, while maintaining what’s in the best interest of our clients, and while retaining this care team, who we know are possibly doing a great job, but they may be upset by something in the way that things are going as a result of being in a family home, etc. And so it’s a really, really tricky balance, I find, to juggle. And we have team meetings on a regular basis…

I’m just wondering if there are any other sort of mechanisms for that communication, which is what I pin the ‘managing expectations’ aspects of what you’ve said on. What does communication look like, from an HR perspective? What’s the range of things that we as case managers and Personal Injury solicitors can think about, when trying to manage a team?

Cecily 28:57

As I mentioned at the beginning, I believe contracts are so important, because that actually lays the foundation for what you expect and what the employees expect. And I think it’s a good idea to help the families understand that, as well. You can breach your contract, through different ways.

What we do is we actually spend a lot of time on contracts because we tailor them: every family does things a little bit differently. We have a template for a contract; we try to tailor it so that it actually reflects what happens in that particular home.

Part of the idea is for case managers and families to feed into what we’re doing so that they understand what’s in the contract. And so when something happens or say, for instance, take holiday. Holiday is one of the big issues: everybody wants to know what their holiday is. But in the care industry, it’s not as clear-cut, because we have many people doing overtime – working outside their normal hours; we have what we call ‘bank’ agreements, where you have casual workers coming in – they’re not employed; you have people who are on zero-hours contracts, but they are employed. So you’ve got to manage their holiday as well: their time off, plus their pay. And those are things that a case manager, or the family… well, they may not have the knowledge of how to do it. And that’s something that we can help them with.

So the communication is helping the employee also to understand, and what we’ve been doing with some of our clients is, once we take on a new client, we try to have a staff meeting at some stage, with the team, to talk to them about some of the things that are in the contract: things about absence – how do you deal with absence, because very often, we find that when somebody is off sick, they don’t really communicate as well as you’d want them to. And we talk through these things as part of the staff meeting. And, very often, the staff will come up with ideas of how they can do things.

We had one just recently, where one of our clients said that he was finding it difficult, because some of the staff weren’t able to stay away overnight with him, when he had to go away. And, talking to the staff, we found out that, very often, many of our care staff have got other jobs. So if they went off and stayed overnight it meant that they weren’t in time for their next job. And so those are things we need to take into consideration.

Shifts – the way shifts are managed: we can again help our case managers and families, and it’s about communicating, again. Because it can’t always be, in every team, where there are certain set days that people know when they’re working, or set shifts that they know that they work in, and so they can actually manage their own personal time, where it’s possible to set out clear rotas for specific people.

It’s helpful, both from the client and family’s point of view, because they have a pattern of who’s going to be coming in when; from the employee’s point of view, if they have, say, for instance, other jobs, or they’ve got childcare arrangements, if they know when they’ve got to work, then it’s easier for them to manage that time, as well. So again, that’s all part of the communication: setting the expectations in communication.

Training – I think, as a case manager, you have to have your paid training. But I think most clients we work with have regular meetings with their care staff; they have supervisions. And, wherever possible, I’d say, if something’s not going right, deal with it as soon as possible – nip it in the bud. If you’ve spoken to someone about it, but later it comes back to haunt you, deal with it again. And so long as somebody knows what the expectation is, and they know that “Okay, if I’m going to do this again, I’ve been told this is the second time; next time it’s going to be more formal.” They they’re going to change the way they do things – well, that’s what we hope.

If they’re not told, if they’re not informed that they’re not doing something the way you want them to do it, they’re not going to know. And very often I find that if something’s not dealt with, the molehill starts becoming a mountain: much more difficult to deal with, if not dealt with right at the beginning.

Shabnam 34:23

Yes, it’s not for the avoidant personalities is managing HR, is it? I think that’s a really good point: that you know, nothing should really be left until it becomes bigger, and you can’t bury your head in the sand. I think that’s one of the biggest challenges in case management: that everything has to be dealt with at the moment… the point of them kind of being revealed. And so it can be relentless, which is why I think your point at the very beginning, which was to think about the relationships at the point of recruitment and all the way through to the end, because you will be able to work out who’s going to be a better fit, I suppose, or who’s going to be a good fit for that client, and who’s going to ultimately make life a bit easier in terms of managing, because it could get very, very tricky.

So, Cecily, you’re writing a book. What are your three top tips for us, when working with Personal Injury clients and family members? What would you say would be helpful strategies, maybe, or tips for us as case managers and deputies and Personal Injury solicitors listening in?

Cecily 35:45

I would say from the outset – and you’ve just touched on it, Shabnam – is make sure you know who you want to bring into the team, and why. So I’d say very clear job descriptions, so that it’s much easier when you want to recruit.

Communication is the other thing. I think communication with the care workers, with the employees, with the families, and with the deputies, and with your HR people, keep them in touch with what’s happening, because sometimes, even if you just have a quick chat about something that may be worrying you, or even sometimes we find that we’re not always clear who the staff are. Because things happen, like say, for instance, you’ve got bank staff, it may be that you’re not using them very often, but we may still have them on our books. So, talking about these things, I think, keeping us informed about who’s there. If you have any issues with staff you’re not clear about what to do, pick up the phone and talk to your HR person, and they will be often be able to help you.

Make sure that your contracts are clear about what your expectations are, and make sure that your staff know what the expectation is. And a big one, I think, is: because of the arrangement of employment with personal injury staff, sometimes the staff don’t actually know who the employer is. They may think it’s the case manager, they may think it’s the parents, sometimes they think it’s HR. Because they may not realize it’s a deputy. So that’s something that’s also important, to make sure they know who their employer is.

Shabnam 37:41

Yes, that’s really important. I suppose it then raises the question of, “Well, if you’re not my employer, as a case manager, then why am I even talking to you?” And so that becomes another issue in itself.

Cecily 37:54

That’s it. And that’s why I think it’s really important, when somebody is taken on during that induction period, it’s very important to set the scene: to be clear about who’s who, and what is expected of them. All those little things, even about reporting, keeping in touch; when you need to contact your manager, who you need to contact, if you’re off sick. Do I contact the parent? Do I contact the team leader? Do I contact my case manager?

Those are little things, but in the bigger scheme of things it means a lot, and very often it’s the parent who needs to know first, and very often the case manager or team leader, because then they – say, if somebody is going to be off ill or not at work – they’ve got to get somebody to cover the shift. It’s about communicating what may be seen as little things, but it can make a big difference to the care team.

Shabnam 38:58

Yes, definitely. That’s very helpful. Thank you. I think there’d be a million more suggestions and tips that you, I’m sure, would be able to impart to us, but we’ll stop it there for now.

I guess I find HR, working in the Personal Injury world and as a case manager, and how complicated the HR processes are, I think, for me, as a case manager, maybe my fourth tip, if I were bold enough to say, such a thing would be about how we as case managers would do well to keep in touch with the deputies about why something is taking as long as it is – and then our litigating solicitors of course, as well – why things are following the process that they’re following. Because sometimes some of these issues just feel like they need investigating; they might need more evidence-building; they’re based on receiving information from colleagues, etc. And until I entered grievance procedures – which, Cecily, you’ve coached us through very well – I don’t think I would have even thought about some of the things that you have shared with us over the years.

So you definitely need an HR company involved: don’t try and do it on your own. I think most of the audience will probably have worked that out already. But like you said, it’s a massive responsibility. And I would say it’s really important that people – case managers and our PI professional audience – know that there’s HR, and then there’s HR impact in the Personal Injury world. And you are best off getting a HR company who understands personal injury. Because, as you say, the nuances and the context are just so different to working in the corporate world that we need people like Embrace HR, and Cecily. So tell me, Cecily, if we were wanting to get in touch with you, how would we do it?

Cecily 41:04

Okay. Our website is www.embracehr.co.uk and our phone number and contact details are on there. Just give us a call or drop us an email to hello@embracehr.co.uk.

Shabnam 41:22

Lovely. And your team is pretty stable, isn’t it, at Embrace HR? So you generally will either get you, Cecily, or one of your admin team, which is really great. And I know you’ve got a couple of other people working with you as well, at least, in terms of the core team, which is really good.

Cecily 41:43

We’ve got a senior HR Adviser, Misty; and Deana and Bridgette are our HR Administrators: very, very experienced people and they do a job-share, so there’s always someone around.

Shabnam 41:58

That’s amazing. Thank you. And, of course, look out for your book!

Cecily 42:02

Yes, eventually…

Shabnam 42:04

Eventually. We’ll definitely want to plug that because I think it’s a resource that’s like no other resource out there, so we would probably do well to look into that, when it’s out. Well, Cecily, look: thank you so much for your time. It’s been an absolute pleasure to speak to you, to have you on, and for you to share your expertise. So I guess it sums it up as ‘communications and relationships in managing expectations’: that’s kind of the name of the game. So, Cecily, thank you so much for your time today. It’s been really informative.

Cecily 42:40

Thank you, Shabnam, for having me. I really appreciate it, and if we can help in any way please do give us a shout.

Shabnam 42:48

Brilliant, thank you. We’ll put your details in the shownotes. Thank you all for listening. If you did like this episode, please like, share and comment on whatever social media platform you use, and we’ll see you next time. Bye for now!

Guest: Cecily Lalloo, Embrace HR

Presenter: Dr Shabnam Berry-Khan, Director of PsychWorks Associates

Editor: Emily Crosby Media

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Embrace HR Aylesbury BABICM Conference Image 2021

Last month, Cecily Lalloo and Misty McCrory attended the two-day 25th anniversary BABICM Conference at the Vox Conference Centre in Birmingham. Here’s what they thought!

“The talks were very interesting,” said Embrace HR Limited Managing Director, Cecily Lalloo, “though some of them did go over our heads as they were quite technical!

“I was amazed at the diversity of speakers and the topics covered, some of which were quite controversial. There are only a handful of neuropsychologists in the country, and they are all bringing their research to the table.

“One of the speakers talked about listening, finding out about the environment in which our clients live, and understanding their behaviours that may be associated with their environment. They talked about medication and how a change in dispensing medication should be high on the list.”

The second day included displays by clients showcasing their talents. And, overnight, a dinner with awards and naming the new BABICM Chairperson, Vicki Gilman.

Ben is a stand-up comedian and supporter of brain injury awareness. He suffered serious head injuries in a motorcycle accident in Croatia 12 years ago, when he was just 21 years old. Ben was in a coma after the crash and, after being flown back to Britain in a special air ambulance, the promising young sportsman spent 10 months in a specialist rehabilitation unit. Although his recovery has been remarkable, Ben says his brain injury can still cause problems. He has since dedicated much of his time to raising awareness of brain injuries by appearing at various seminars, stand-up comedy shows and even appeared in the Channel 4 television show ‘First Dates’.

Misty said, “Attending the BABICM conference proved to be an interesting two days, with some thought-provoking speakers. It was great to get out and meet people face to face again. It was clear that HR is not at the forefront of people’s minds, and this is something that needs to change. We learnt that recruitment of carers is an issue for so many – employers are finding it hard to find staff and the recruitment process is generally taking much longer than usual. There was also considerable interest in Cecily’s upcoming book!”

Cecily concluded, “We had such a fabulous couple of days at the Conference and we’re looking forward to the next one in December! We met many case managers and solicitors who we had not met face to face before – it was so good to put faces to names as well.”

You can find out more about the conference on the BABICM website.

Main banner image courtesy of Mike Beard – see if you can find Cecily and Misty!

Pictured below: Ben Shevlin, Cecily and Misty sharing a selfie at the awards dinner, and an image of the layout.

Embrace HR Aylesbury Ben Shevlin Embrace HR Aylesbury Cecily and Misty sharing a selfie at the awards dinner Embrace HR Aylesbury BABICM Conference layout

Embrace HR Aylesbury A new book by Cecily Lalloo

Employing people in your home does not need to be a hassle if you know how! Read this independent review of Cecily Lalloo’s new book guiding you through the things to know and do…

Book Review

For most of us, having to employ care staff for us or our families at home is not something we expect to do. It’s not something we are prepared for.

And because when we do have to do this, it will often come at a traumatic time – after a major illness or accident when the last thing we will want to think about is employment law and tackling red tape – we need help to come in a simple and digestible form.

That’s why Cecily Lalloo’s book will be a real godsend to families in this situation. Written in plain terms, it offers guidance and support for people who find themselves being the employer in their own home. Cecily herself has a wealth of expertise in HR and the care sector, so you can tell that the advice you’re getting is really valuable.

She takes things from the very beginning, explaining the types of employment, and different scenarios that you may find yourself in.

Working through step by step, the book makes it so easy to follow the whole employment cycle. Cecily explains in plain terms how to find the right person – she discusses considering both their attitude and their skillset, whether they will be employed on a permanent or casual basis, and how to advertise and keep within discrimination laws.

There are some interview questions you can use and at-a-glance top tips.

What I love about this book is the simple way it is laid out. There are useful checklists that make it easy to see at a glance what you need to do. Really useful when you are busy and stressed – the last thing you need is help that is complicated and convoluted! The case studies also help to put everything into a real-world perspective.

The same style is used throughout the book. Cecily explains how to make a job offer (not something most of us have ever had to do, I’m sure), and her advice makes it seem straightforward. Again, a checklist of what to include in the contract is laid out for you.

Cecily then goes on to explain what should be expected of a working relationship, how to deal with breaks, holidays and time off – even things such as maternity and parental leave. It is explained in such a straightforward and matter-of-fact way that it doesn’t seem at all daunting.

Of course, there may be problems along the way – and again, Cecily explains how to handle having to dismiss an employee, along with their resignation, redundancy or retirement.

Having someone working for you in your own home, especially under what can be stressful conditions, is not easy for many people, but with this book, Cecily gives ordinary families the tools to handle far more than they may ever have imagined. There may be times when you need an HR expert, and she highlights these throughout the book, but overall it is a guide that no family planning on hiring a carer should be without.

Further information on where the book can be purchased will be updated in due course.

Cecily’s Response

“I was so thrilled to receive this wonderful independent review of my new book – the first in my Employing Positively series. This one is particularly special to me – as it is aimed at helping families who are already going through a traumatic time: Employing Care Staff in Your Home.

“I am also hoping it will help me achieve another goal of mine – I plan to set up a sensory room for children with brain injury in my home country of Zimbabwe, so for each book sold, £1 will go towards that cause”


If you would like to discuss the book further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.

If you would like to receive our newsletter, please sign up here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.

Following a major consultation this summer, the Care Quality Commission has launched a new strategy for regulating healthcare and the social care industry…

Healthcare Regulation by the CQC

A new strategy has been launched by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which aims to have a positive effect on patient care and ‘regulating in a targeted way’.

The strategy has been pushed ahead by the pandemic, with digital systems being used more than ever, and is the result of extensive consultation with social care and health providers as well as the public, charities and other relevant organisations.

The new strategy has four main pillars:

  1. People and communities – the aim is for the regulation to be driven by people’s needs and experiences, concentrating on what is important to them as they use and access services
  2. Smarter regulation – the plan is to have a more dynamic and flexible approach to regulation, with up-to-date and high-quality information and ratings, and easier ways of working with CQC
  3. Safety through learning – safety will be an absolute key focus. The culture across health and care will ensure that people can speak up, and so share opportunities for learning and improvement opportunities
  4. Accelerating improvement – health and care services, along with local systems, will be encouraged to access support in order to help them improve quality of care where it’s needed most.

Local health and care systems will also be assessed differently and the CQC will alter how it addresses local challenges.

Central to the above four cores are two key ambitions:

  1. Assessing local systems – offering the public independent assurance about the quality of care within their area
  2. Tackling inequalities in health and care – pushing for equality of access, experiences, and outcomes from services.

The CQC also points out that in order to be effective and to help improve the quality of care, people’s feedback and experiences is going to be vital, and it seems that we will see more ways developed for the CQC to gather views from a broader range of people, including those working in health and social care, and improve how this information is recorded and used.

It will also mean that clients, their families and advocates will be able to easily offer feedback about their care and learn how this is used to inform regulation.

Another key part of the strategy is going to look at health and care services together, evaluating how they work with each other in partnership to provide a rounded service to the people who need them.

Any organisations offering complex care must be registered with the CQC – further details can be found at www.cqc.org.uk/guidance-providers/registration/what-registration.

Requirements for Case Managers or HR Managers

So, as Case Managers or HR Managers within the care arena, what will you need to consider?

  1. The CQC has said: “It’s time to prioritise safety: creating strong safety cultures, focusing on learning, improving expertise, listening and acting on people’s experiences, and taking clear and proactive action when safety doesn’t improve.’’ Looking at the culture within your own organisation, and ensuring that there are clear, safe and transparent ways for your workers to highlight any concerns, without fear of reprisal or disadvantage is going to be more important than ever
  2. Be aware that while on-site inspections will still be an important part of regulation, there will be a more flexible, targeted approach (rather than a set schedule of inspections). A range of methods, tools, and techniques will be used to assess the quality of your organisation’s services
  3. Know that any issues highlighted will be addressed quickly, so ensure that your teams and managers are aware that they will need to be flexible in order to make improvements
  4. Plan to work with managers to ensure the organisation is prepared for the new regulatory regime. In-depth assessments should be carried out sooner rather than later, in order to identify areas that need improvement
  5. Always consider the needs of your care workers. Karolina Gerlich, CEO at The Care Workers’ Charity, has expressed concern that the new CQC strategy doesn’t talk more about the workforce, their needs and wellbeing – especially following the pandemic. She stated that even before Covid-19, “care workers were burnt out and underappreciated, and now more than ever, their wellbeing must be prioritised’’. Something HR Managers can certainly focus on.

Some ways that we recommend to address point 5 of the above could be: regular 1-2-1’s and reviews – ensuring notes are kept of meetings concerning conduct or capability in order to target training and ongoing support. These actions will help address wellbeing or mental health concerns as it provides care staff an opportunity to discuss issues that may be affecting performance. And finally, use software to ensure personal information is up to date and kept secure.

What is the CQC?

The Care Quality Commission is the body that acts as an independent regulator for health and adult social care in England. Its job is to ensure the safe and effective delivery of health and social care services – focusing on compassion, high-quality care and constant improvement.

What is complex care?

Complex care involves specialist support for a client who has a long term or chronic health condition. The extra support enables them to manage everyday activities and their symptoms in order to achieve a high quality of life and as much independence as possible.

If you would like to discuss this subject further or need assistance to ensure you meet the new regulations, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited. T: 07767 308717 or contact us here.

If you would like to receive our newsletter, please sign up here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.


Multi Racial Women at Work Embrace HR Aylesbury Halo effect

When one employee is the ‘golden child’ it can have a negative effect on the rest of your workforce, and it needn’t just apply to individuals. So what is it and what can you do about it?

Positive Bias

You may not have come across the term ‘halo effect’, but you’re bound to have heard the term ‘golden boy/girl’. This may have applied to another pupil when you were at school, or even to one of your siblings.

The halo effect is an unconscious judgment of a person, company or product which subsequently influences their thoughts and feelings about him/her or it. It explains how our overall impression of someone, or something, can colour our perceptions.

For example, at school, there may have been that one child who seemed to be the model student in reception class – never told off, lovely neat handwriting, well ahead on their reading. Or they may have looked like an angelic child who is always chosen for every opportunity – such as sports events or meeting important visitors – throughout their school life. As you got older, perhaps you realised that they weren’t necessarily the best sportsperson, or best public speaker – and started to question why they always got chosen.

It was the halo effect. The teachers, in our example, recognised a child who looked as if they were the ideal student at a young age and never gave them any trouble in the classroom; they perceived everything they did as being at the level of this mythical model student.

If you can remember how that made you and others in the classroom feel – maybe jealous, forgotten, even inferior – you can now take those feelings and transfer them to your adult members of staff.

We know from first-hand experience that this still happens, even in today’s world, and must make every effort, if it doesn’t come naturally, to make a conscientious effort to look past the obvious to find the many positives beneath the façade.

The Halo Effect at Work

The same thing can easily happen in a work situation. An employee makes a good impression when they join the firm – maybe they offer up a clever solution to a problem or get great feedback from a client. They may just be incredibly enthusiastic. Or it could even be something more personal – a hobby they share with a manager, or that they were referred for the job by a senior member of staff.

This creates an impression that remains with them as they work within the organisation. They may not do anything else of outstanding value but if everyone thinks they must be good because the firm’s owner recommended them, or because they appear to be enthused and positive about the work, they are automatically in an advantageous position, when compared with other staff members.

This bias afforded them will, naturally, mean that other staff will not be viewed so positively, even if they are doing a similar job to a similar standard. This can of course lead to resentment, especially if our ‘golden child’ is receiving opportunities and perks that the others aren’t getting.

Interestingly, the opposite is also true. The reverse of the halo effect is referred to as the ‘horns effect’ or the ‘devil’s horns effect’. This is where an initial negative characteristic during a first impression spurs negativity bias, the subsequent impact of any negatives are then greater as a result.

It’s Not Just About People 

The halo effect can also apply to the service you are providing and/or your brand. As they say, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression and that equally applies in the care sector.

The client’s dealings with your organisation – even before a support worker or carer steps through their door – will also have an impact on their first impression. If they have received great customer service, and clear and transparent communication, they will be more likely to look upon that support worker favourably when they first meet them.

In addition to first impressions, the halo effect can be linked client satisfaction and fulfilment of their complex care needs. Often the quality of care is associated with factors such as cleanliness, maintenance, noise, and food.

What’s the Answer?

With respect to individuals in the workplace, the first thing is to train your senior staff and managers, so that they understand what the halo effect is, and how to recognise if anyone is receiving a positive bias. This often starts at the recruitment stage, with a bias leaning towards interviewees who have a common interest with a manager, or who excel in one particular interview test, which can encourage recruiters to gloss over other less-favourable traits.

This can also happen once the person is employed. If they, for instance, have great results in one area, there might be a tendency to overlook some of their less impressive performances – perhaps how they communicate with other members of staff or clients. HR needs to be aware of this so that they can be proactive when it comes to things such as disciplinary hearings and performance reviews.

In terms of your company and levels of service, do consider the following in respect of your client’s satisfaction:

  1. First Impressions – could your communications be improved? Think look and feel, tone of voice and presentation.
  2. Cleanliness – you’ve heard the expression that cleanliness is next to godliness? Never has a truer word been spoken in connection with care! Cleanliness should be always at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
  3. Maintenance – ensure tools and equipment are maintained, not only in terms of operation but cosmetically too.
  4. Noise – consider how your carers conduct themselves and where they spend time and communicate when on their breaks, including the volume of their voices and any mobile devices.
  5. Food – remember that, in your clients’ eyes, presentation and delivery are just as important as meeting their dietary needs.

Further Reading

You might be interested in this free ebook entitled: The 17 Proven Strategies to Improve Patient Satisfaction & Experience. Although predominantly aimed at hospital care, it may offer some useful insights.

If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.

If you would like to receive our newsletter, please sign up here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.

Embrace Antiracism

With awareness of racial issues more prominent than ever, now is a good time to ensure that you are fully conversant with the relevant rules, regulation and legislation, as it applies to the care sector as it does any other…

Recent government figures show that a large proportion of ethnic minority workers make up the healthcare sector [GOV.UK: Employment by sector 15/5/20] that includes public administration, education and health so it is vital that anyone managing staff in the care sector handles any matters surrounding racial equality in the correct manner.

Protection against discrimination due to someone’s race is provided by the Equality Act 2010. Race discrimination, which has been illegal in the UK since 1976, occurs when someone is unfairly disadvantaged for reasons related to their race – this includes for their colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins.

Factors at work that are protected by the Equality Act include:

  • recruitment and selection
  • promotion
  • training, pay and benefits
  • redundancy and dismissal
  • terms and conditions of work.

First let’s clarify the two types of discrimination: direct and indirect.

What is direct discrimination?

This is when a person is treated in a less favourable manner because of their race, when compared to others. For instance, if a care assistant or support worker of the same experience was paid less or expected to work less sociable hours, because of their race.

What is indirect discrimination?

This is when a particular provision or criteria puts a person of a certain race at a disadvantage, For example, if staff who don’t work on Saturdays are not eligible for promotion. If you have Jewish staff who observe the sabbath on Saturdays so are unable to work, that could be seen as indirect discrimination, as it disadvantages a racial group.

Changing attitudes within your organisation 

Organisations that promote an open culture of respect and dignity for their employees, and who are shown to value difference are more likely to have acceptable attitudes among their workforce.

It is important to show by actions that you will address any racism in the workplace – deal with any matters that come to your attention as soon as possible.

Create an anti-racism culture by:

  • Making it clear what your organisation’s values are, and also ensure it is clear that there is a zero-tolerance policy on racism
  • Tackle ways of working across your organisation, from people management to operational matters, to ensure systemic racism is stamped out
  • Ensure that any sustained action to challenge racism is shown to come from the managers and that it is clear that there is a commitment to change
  • Carry out a critical appraisal of your people management system
  • Ensure there are safe spaces to talk, to complain, to share experiences and so on
  • Be transparent in what you are doing and ensure that there is the opportunity for two-way communication.

Claims of racism in the workplace

As an employer, you are responsible for making sure that discrimination does not happen in your workplace. If a member of your staff is accused of racism, be aware that you can be responsible – it is called ‘vicarious liability’.

The law requires you to do everything reasonably possible to protect your staff from racial discrimination. If an employee feels that you have not looked after them under your ‘duty of care’ towards your staff, and that they cannot continue to work within your organisation, they could have a case for constructive dismissal.

You must investigate any claim of harassment or discrimination, otherwise you could find yourself subject to an employment tribunal. By taking the claim seriously you send out a clear message that racism will not be tolerated, that employees can expect to be helped if there is a problem and show that you make the workplace a fair place to be.

It is also prudent to note that employers are liable for acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation carried out by their employees ‘in the course of employment’.

Best practice

It is also good practice to ensure that your staff are aware of any racial issues when it comes to caring for their clients and patients. ‘Race Equality in Health and Social Care’ from the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland is a useful document to review.

If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.

If you would like to receive our newsletter, please sign up here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.

Embrace Right to Work Checks

From 1 July, the rules surrounding the right to work checks for EEA (European Economic Area) nationals have changed. Make sure you are up to date…

Right to Work

Updated guidance has been released by the government when it comes to right to work checks. Within the care sector there is a high proportion of workers from outside the UK, so it is vital that the correct checks are carried out to ensure you, as the employer, are not liable for a civil penalty.

Please note, these checks must be carried out before day one of the employment start date.


  • Employers can be subject to a civil penalty of up to £20,000 for each employee who does not have the right to work in the UK, if the correct checks were not carried out.
  • Note that companies need to have a sponsor license to hire most workers from outside the UK. Find out how to apply at www.gov.uk/uk-visa-sponsorship-employers.

What has Changed?

From 1 July 2021, EEA nationals (and workers from Switzerland) will have to demonstrate their right to work. This will be done using the Home Office online service – and it will be relevant to their immigration status, not their nationality. An online check is required for workers who only have digital proof of their immigration status in the UK. This applies to most EU (European Union), EEA, or Swiss citizens.

From this date an employer will no longer be able to take ID cards of EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens as proof of right to work.

Note that employers will not have to carry out retrospective checks on employees who are EEA nationals and who were employed on or before 30 June 2001. This applies as long as the initial right to work check was undertaken in line with right to work legislation and the Home Office guidance.

Case Study

We recently interviewed a Turkish national who works in the care industry. They had entered the UK six months ago on a self-employed visa.

So with these new laws in place, were we able to recruit them?

Turkey is neither an EU or EEA country. (The EEA includes EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. While Switzerland is neither an EU or an EEA member it is part of the single market. so Swiss nationals have the same rights to live and work in the UK as other EEA nationals.)

The ECAA 1, the self-employed Turkish Businessperson visa, allows Turkish citizens to form a new business or join an existing business. This visa requires the individual to show that they have the funds necessary to cover their living and business expenses, as well as any expenses of their dependents.

In essence, the requirements mean that the individual will not seek benefits to cover their expenses. The Turkish national we interviewed could have worked with our client as a self-employed person under HMRC rules, However, our client needed a full-time person who could cover various shifts, including nights. The Turkish national had other clients and would not have been able to commit and withdrew.

Find out more about the rules for recruiting workers from outside the UK at www.gov.uk/guidance/recruiting-people-from-outside-the-uk.

If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.

If you would like to receive our newsletter, please sign up here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.

Embrace Misty McCrory

We think it is high time you learn more about our fabulous team here at Embrace HR Limited. So we are kicking off our team spotlights by introducing our newest member, Misty McCrory, who joined us earlier this year….

Introducing Misty McCrory

Q: What is your role at Embrace HR Limited and what qualities will you bring to it?

A: I have joined Embrace as the Senior HR Adviser and I’m bringing with me 20+ years’ experience to the role – I really have dealt with all manner of HR queries! I am really friendly and approachable and have experience in all aspects of HR including managing disciplinary and grievance procedures, policy development and recruitment. I can provide advice and support to all management levels on all manner of employment law issues.

Q: When did you start at Embrace HR Limited?

A: I joined the company on 12 April 2021, initially for 2 days a week, but from the 4 May full time.

Q: Why should someone listen to your advice?

A: I am Chartered MCIPD and have spent the last 15 years working in Higher Education. Prior to that I worked for a Pub company as an HR administrator and learned a lot of the basics there. There is nothing I haven’t seen or heard!

Q: What does Chartered MCIPD mean?

A: Chartered MCIPD means that I am a Chartered Member of the CIPD – the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development – a professional body for experts in people at work. As a Member, the CIPD recognises that I am an experienced people professional working operationally while thinking strategically; and I deliver people solutions that drive change within organisations and/or the profession.

Q: What do you like best about working within Human Resources?

A: Good question! For me it’s because I like dealing with lots of different people and being able to problem solve. I enjoy the variety of problems that can come about, no day is the same. I enjoy talking to people and helping where I can.

Q: What are you looking forward to most as a result of joining the Embrace HR team?

A: Given what I enjoy about HR, it’s the variety of clients and queries, feeling like I am making a difference and meeting lots of new people. Also working for a small team – the three other members of the team are so lovely and have made me feel very welcome and comfortable in a short space of time.

Q: What challenges do you envisage with your new role?

A: I’m looking forward to learning how the Care sector works, meeting lots of different clients and understanding their different ways of working. I’m used to working within a company where they must take my advice and don’t always want to, whereas being in a more consultative environment, my advice doesn’t have to be agreed with or followed through!

Q: Describe your typical day

A: Well it’s still early days here at Embrace, but presently I’ll check emails first thing, write a to-do list, (I love a good to-do list!) do the school run, catch up with the team and, if it all goes to plan, work through all that days’ tasks. In the afternoon, I’ll catch up with the team again, do the school run in reverse and try to finish off anything outstanding. Sometimes I have to scrap the to do list from the morning, as the day rarely goes how you plan it, especially if it’s taken up with numerous telephone calls and virtual meetings.

Q: And finally, what makes you happy?

A: That’s an easy one! My husband and two children. I have a 10-year-old daughter who loves dancing, in particular Irish dancing, pre-lockdown I would have been travelling around the country to Irish Feis dance competitions! My son is 14 and plays County level tennis, so we spend a lot of time taking him to tournaments. Both of them make me so proud as they are dedicated to their art sport and always work hard.

You can contact Misty, by email at: misty.mccrory@embracehr.co.uk, by telephone on 01296 761288 or contact us here.

Look out for future team spotlights on the other members of our team!

If you would like to receive our newsletter, please sign up here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.

Embrace HR Mental health awareness week

As we enter Mental Health Awareness week, we take a look at how supporting your employees  can help with staff retention…

Mental health might be a bigger issue within your team than you think. With one in four adults in the UK experiencing a mental health issue at least once during their lifetime, you need to consider that a quarter of your workforce could be affected at one time or another.

Mental health covers a wide range of conditions – from depression to anxiety and personality disorders. And the ways to support affected staff can be varied and far-reaching.

Of course, nobody expects you to know how to treat these conditions, but supporting your employees can be beneficial, both to them, your wider team and to your company. According to the Mental Health Foundation, an alarming 70 million work days are lost each year [Mental Health Foundation: Mental Health in the Workplace] due to mental health problems in the UK, which in turn costs employers around £2.4 billion per year.

However, it’s not just about work days lost – employee retention is another key issue. According to research by healthcare provider Benenden Health [Benenden Health: Mental Wellbeing Report 2020] nearly half of UK businesses have seen an employee leave because their mental health isn’t supported.

If you have paid to train a member of staff, who is valued by your clients, losing them can be a real blow to your organisation. So it makes sense to offer support in order to reduce staff turnover and absence.

Your legal obligation

According to the Equality Act (2010) you, as the employer, should make reasonable adjustments for people with mental and physical disabilities, ensuring they have the same access to gaining and keeping employment as a non-disabled person. In this case a mental impairment is defined as having a substantial long-term impact on their daily life.

What can you do to help?

  • Open the conversation: Make sure you send a clear message to let staff know that, should they discuss their mental health with you, you will be understanding and offer help where possible. After all, if someone came in with a broken leg, that is what you would do – and mental health issues are no different. If employees are too afraid to speak up for fear of discrimination, a reduction in hours or responsibilities, they are more likely to take days off or leave. To that end, it is also important to provide the opportunity to talk. When people are busy or perceive that their manager is too busy, they may not want to ‘worry’ them so remain silent.
  • Keep it confidential: Your discussion about someone’s anxiety or other mental health disorder should go no further and you should make it clear that you will treat information in a professional manner. Employees who are worried that their colleagues will gossip about them, treat them differently, or resent any special treatment, are likely to be under more pressure.
  • Show them the signposts: As we said previously, it is not your job to treat an employee who is struggling, but you can aid them by recommending that they seek professional help. Give them any support they need to do this.
  • Listen to them: Don’t assume that one person suffering from depression will need the same support as someone else with depression. Everyone is different. Listen to them and find out how you can cut down on their stress in the workplace at least.
  • Be prepared to make adjustments: They may benefit from a change in their shift or working patterns or responsibilities, while they are getting help. Try to make things easier where you can – such as re-organising their work to cut down on travel time or avoiding busy times, or by arranging for them to have support with their workload, training and/or 1-2-1’s. But let them lead the way on what help they need.

Aim to be part of the solution, not a part of the problem.


If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.

If you would like to receive our newsletter, please sign up here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.