Faye Spalding provides an overview of your responsibilities to your staff.
During a discussion about the retail business on Radio 4, one manager, when asked ‘Who are the most important people in your shop?’, answered ‘The staff’. His rationale was that if the staff weren’t happy, then they wouldn’t provide a good experience for the customers. This could equally well be applied to your setting. We know that the children are important, but if you don’t have the right staff with the right attitude, then the education and care those children receive will be less effective. One of the responsibilities you have as a manager is to ensure the safety of all those on your premises, and that includes your staff. So what should you be doing?
Keeping them safe from accusations
Child protection training
Keep staff aware of new legislation and any changes to procedure. Having had a basic training, they should undertake regular refresher courses. Check with new members of staff to find out when they last underwent any training. Keep a record to show who has attended a training session – and when. Remind staff of your setting’s safeguarding procedures each year.
You should have clear guidelines on what is and what isn’t permissible. At the start of every year go over this. Check that everyone understands and means the same thing. Minute the meeting and list those present.
All of your staff should understand that as a professional this is implicit – they will treat all information as confidential and will not discuss matters outside the setting, or in the hearing of non-staff members.
Giving medicines and drugs
You should have an emergency procedures policy in place that sets out clearly what staff can and can’t do in terms of giving medication or other emergency care, the rights and responsibilities of parents, and what will happen, stage by stage, in a medical emergency.
Safe from injury
Your building and equipment risk assessment should identify any areas that could pose a risk to staff. You need to ensure that staff are aware of this and have received appropriate training.
All equipment should be well maintained and safe. Faulty equipment should be disposed of safely or sent for repair. Label items awaiting repair, to warn staff.Staff handling food should receive training in food hygiene.
Only staff with valid certificates should carry out first aid. Post their names next to the first aid box. Delegate daily responsibility for checking and replenishing its contents.
Use of ladders, handling heavy goods etc
Training is available for these situations. Talk to staff about keeping safe, when moving furniture, putting up displays, carrying heavy bags of sand to replenish the sand tray etc. Supply stepladders of appropriate heights for your display boards and high cupboards and encourage staff to use them.
If you have children with special needs who need lifting onto changing mats or wheelchairs, you should be able to get advice and training from the physiotherapy department who care for the child.
Make sure that all staff know your fire routines and practise them with the children.
You should have procedures and guidelines for staff when they are alone in the building. Talk to your staff about this and together draw up a list of safety measures, such as: Always lock the door behind you.Have a mobile phone on you at all times.Consider the lighting outside – are your staff vulnerable when they are getting in or out of their cars? Are there overhanging bushes that someone could hide in?
If a parent or other adult abuses a member of staff verbally or physically you should have an agreed procedure to respond to this. Discuss this with all of your staff, to brainstorm ideas for ways to respond that suit your specific needs. Let parents know that you won’t tolerate violence and have notices up where parents can see them.
Safe from stress
This is a difficult one, as what stresses one person could be a welcome challenge for someone else. Have a broad approach that encourages your staff to work as a team and to share responsibilities and authority, to support each other as formal mentors and professional friends. Assess their emotional needs as well as their professional development. If you show them that you value them they will be more likely to accept challenges and enjoy the rewards of achievement. Individuals can help themselves remain free of stress by adopting a healthy lifestyle, plenty of rest, regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Some staff may have personal problems and may be prone to stress. Be as supportive as you can, re-delegate responsibilities if it is a passing phase, be available to talk to this person and watch for any danger signs.
To sum up
These issues should be part of the induction of every new member of staff, at whatever level of competence or authority, including work experience students and those in training. They should be contained in induction packs and staff handbooks. Summaries should be in your prospectus and posted where parents and staff can access them.
Faye Spalding is the owner/manager of Fairway Child Care Centre, Stisted, Essex.