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Deputy makes life easier for Ascot care home staff

Surrey, UK
healthcare industry Healthcare

At a glance

  • Cut payroll processing time from 160 to 8 hours per month
  • Staff are clear about pay, schedules, and communication
  • Deputy is now promoted as a benefit to attract new staff

The Story

Family-run since 1979, Ascot Residential Homes has a heritage that stretches all the way back to 1860, when, as owner David Tanner explains, it was purpose-built as a site for people “to escape the London smogs and breathe the fresh air of Ascot in Surrey, UK.” Today, the business operates a nursing home and a residential home and also offers in-home care.

Ascot Residential Homes prides itself on a different environment from traditional nursing homes, providing a “unique and loving way of life” amidst 40 acres of woodland. And with that unique way of living comes great service from the staff. In fact, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which regulates health and social care in England, awarded the Ascot facilities “Outstanding” ratings.

David and his family take a people-first approach to the business, with a particular focus on ensuring staff are happy. “The core thing in any care home is staff,” says David. “You need to remove any impediment to their happiness. Little things can make the difference between a member of staff staying with you or leaving. If you can focus on those small things, it’s more likely they’ll stay.”

“The core thing in any care home is staff. You need to remove any impediment to their happiness.”

The Challenge

That quality care and outstanding service is dependent on Ascot’s staff — and their happiness.

And confusing timesheets and messy payroll were disrupting the order. ”It was quite literally the most laborious exercise you could ever imagine,” says David.“We were manually drawing up the hours of a schedule two or three times a day, adding up total hours each week, and cross-referencing against rates of pay.”

At one point, the business spent 40 hours a week just on managing its payroll. Inevitably, there were errors with so much paper-based manual work, leading to 20-30 queries a month from staff.

Scheduling was difficult for everyone, too. The weekly rota was published on a laminated form, with an accompanying “gap list” showing staff where shifts were available. It wasn’t working.

“People would put their signature next to the gaps, but never show up because they either forgot or changed their mind,” says David.

Even when the business moved to spreadsheets and a clocking-in system, visibility was still a problem. Staff couldn’t clearly see how the hours they worked translated into pay. And in an industry that traditionally has high staff turnover, this is one of the “little things” that can make the difference between people leaving or staying.

“At one point, we were spending 40 hours a week just on managing payroll.”

The Solution

Using Deputy transformed payroll and scheduling at Ascot Residential Homes. David was inspired to look for an app-based solution after an earlier staff survey had revealed that almost all staff, even those over 60 years-old, owned a smartphone.

With an older workforce, David worried that there may have been some resistance to app-based scheduling and timesheets, but his fears were unfounded. Staff love Deputy. Ascot Residential Homes even promotes it as a benefit to attract new staff when the business is hiring.

“We always make sure that potential recruits know that we have an app-based rota and communication system,” says David. “I asked the person in charge of scheduling what she would do if we took Deputy away. She had a two-word answer: ‘I’d resign!’”.

Since Deputy was implemented, the time taken to manage the payroll process each month went from 160 hours — to 8 hours.

Being a people-first business never stops. “We’ve been making good use of the time and money we save using Deputy,” says David. “David notes that he has been able to make good use of this saved time: “The hours we save go back into extra pay and staffing.”

Deputy also has a valuable role to play in helping Ascot Residential Homes to demonstrate its high standards to the CQC. Deputy acts as source of truth for presenting evidence of staffing levels and showing that there has been clear communication with staff. Managers can ask staff to mark whether they have read a message, so it’s clear who has seen important communications, like new COVID-19 or infection control processes.

David has no doubt that Deputy helps Ascot Residential Homes to maintain their high level of service. “Deputy is the core part of a good foundation to run a high-quality care home,” he says. If I’m ever asked by others in the industry whether I have any ideas about better efficiency, I’ll always point them in the direction of Deputy.”

“I asked the person in charge of scheduling what she would do if we took Deputy away. She had a two-word answer: ‘I’d resign!’”

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