1. Will our working practice stay the same?Your Terms and Conditions will stay the same, protected by TUPE. The care delivery won’t change as it will be as per the care plan for individuals. We will review policy and procedure over time and would consult with you if any changes necessary.
2. What about the Training, how will that work?We are planning a two- and half-day induction for you all. Usually new starters with Athena do a 5-day induction, which covers the Care Certification, which staff transferring don’t require. During the induction you will learn a lot more about Athena. There is a CQC requirement for us to provide induction. We use a system called Your Hippo for E-learning.
3. Will our eLearning transfer over the Athena?We won’t make you re-do all your training if it is in date. Someone will look at where you are at with your training. You will then get notifications by email when training is due. We have mandatory and required training. We all do the same training regardless of job role with support from the L&D Team.
4. Is there classroom-based training?
There is a schedule of training courses every month. We keep a training calendar, and we also ask the homes to provide us any specific training requirements they have.
5. We book our holiday through Cascade – how will that work?
We don’t have Cascade at Athena, we currently use People Planner, but we are having a full systems review. Your holiday will transfer to Athena, CHS will provide us with the information. For a while we may have to use a manual system. If you have holiday plans, I advise you to get that booked and approved now.
6. Are we getting a chunk of our annual leave in the new year?Your holiday year runs differently to Athena so we will allocate annual leave for the period January to March 2024 and then from the 1st April 2024 you will come into line with Athena’s holiday year. We will probably give it to you all in one go so that you can book your annual leave to the end of March 2024. The overall amount of holiday you get will not change but the holiday year will.
7. What happens if I have already requested annual leave for 2024 which has been approved?
If annual leave has already been booked and approved Athena will honour that.
8. What about resident care plans – we use Nourish will we still have that?
The plan is to retain that for the time being. Athena are in talks with Nourish at the present time but as previously stated we are currently undertaking a systems review and will need to wait for the outcome of that before we decide what systems we will retain. ,
9. New pay date – how will that work?
Athena cut off date is the last day of the month; you get paid everything you are entitled to for the month on the 14th of the month (relating to the previous month). We won’t change the pay date straight away, probably won’t be until sometime in 2024, avoiding Christmas period. When we make the change, we will help people with the transition.
Payslips are emailed to personal email addresses, so please ensure that your email address is up to date in Cascade prior to the transfer. If no email address, then the payslip will be printed off.
10. How long will we be on our Terms and Conditions?
You cannot be worse off under TUPE. If, in time, there is anything that we want to change, then we would be required to consult with you about it. There is no set timeframe.
11. Will new people joining be on Athena Terms and Conditions?
Yes, they will. We haven’t figured all of that out yet. We obviously need to take account of the recruitment market and cost of living in Cambridge.
12. What will the rate of pay be if we work extra hours?It will be the same as you get now. If overtime is available and you pick up extra shifts. Overtime is not guaranteed.
13. What happens about annual pay awards – will you try to level it?The pay rates at CHS are currently more than we pay in our other homes. We do a pay review every year; we are not going to be looking at harmonising pay rates. We will need to look at the pay rates across all our homes. This year everyone got the same % increase.
14. What if there are new people on different rates to us and that impacts motivation?We would have to manage any issues that may arise. Candidates will accept jobs on the terms offered and we do not envisage that there will be huge gaps in pay rates.
15. Uniform – who wears what colour?Purple tunics – Care staffPink tunics – ActivitiesBurgundy tunics– Housekeeping/DomesticWe will need to decide on who wears the Teal colour and the Black as they are worn by different roles in our nursing homes. You have Team Leaders and Lead Practitioners.Our policy is for black bottoms (not jeans) and black shoes, preferably with a black sole too.Catering staff wear whites and checked trousers in some homes and all black in others.Management Team do not wear a uniform, unless they are required to work on the floor and then they wear a grey tunic.There is a uniform for Admin staff – but it is not compulsory to wear it.Everyone wears a magnetic name badge with just first names on.We provide staff with enough uniform that you need depending on your contractual hours. Generally, it is 3 for full time staff. We don’t charge for uniform.There is no summer uniform. Jewellery – policy of nothing below the wrist, we do allow a plain band. No facial piercings. This is about infection control.No nail varnish, including gel nails.
16. Will there be some improvements to the building?Athena is looking at a schedule of works and will prioritise. Our services have a maintenance person and gardener on site. We have annual competition “Athena in Bloom.” Twice a year head office staff go out to the homes and support with the gardening. Part of sustainability plan is that we plant 5 trees for every resident. There is nice garden space here for developing.We have cafes in our homes, there are some spaces here which would lend themselves to that.
17. What about personal development courses?We have an L&D Manager; she is great at sourcing lots of career development learning . If there is anything that you want to do, then put it forward. We like to be part of the community and build community connections, we have a resident who goes to a Day Centre, we share training with them.
18. Are there Champion roles at Athena?Yes, there are, such as Dementia Champions. There are bespoke resources for our champions.
19. What about Job Descriptions?Your current job descriptions will be reviewed and should it be deemed necessary to change any aspect of them you will be consulted about this.
20. What if I am on a student visa – will there be sponsorship going forward?We haven’t got a sponsorship licence for these two locations, but we have at our other sites. We are looking into sponsorship licence. 10% of our staff are currently sponsored. There is a possibility to transfer to one of our other sites where we have sponsorship if we do not obtain a licence for Alex Wood or Langdon House
21. Are there plans to turn our homes into Nursing homes?No such plans.
22. What about the Annexe at Alex Wood House, will that be incorporated?We are not sure yet what we will do with it. It is a big space which we will want to utilise.
23. Are there 12-hour shifts?There is a variety of shift patterns. If your hours work as they are, we don’t have plans to change them. We understand that sometimes people work some extra time. We understand that a lot of you live locally and walk/cycle to work.
The only things we plan to change at the point of transfer are as set out in the measures letter.
24. Will you change the staffing levels?Possibly, they won’t go down, but they may go up. We use a dependency tool, if there are heavily dependent residents then levels may increase. We have more night care hours than you do currently. We will review the staffing levels.
25. Where would we have to go for training?Possibly to our other locations in March or Peterborough for some specialised training but we have regional trainers that come out to site.
26. Do Athena use home cooked food?Yes, we do.
27. Are there opportunities to grow and develop?Yes! We’re really passionate about supporting you to achieve your goals. We look at the structure, what people need. We do pay for development courses, and we put in place Training Agreements for courses that we fund for individuals.
28. What about resident’s wellbeing?We have a lifestyles team, there is someone in every unit. Lifestyle is a separate role to carers – they wear the pink tunics.
29. Do you have to do separate training to be on the lifestyle team?There are courses, but it is about the passion and enthusiasm.
30. How do you communicate vacancies within the homes?Via the staff notice boards. We have monthly staff newsletters, which is also a great way to share success stories. We send to personal emails, and we have about 80% readership.
31. I am worried about the pay date change and impact to Universal Credit.We have dealt with this before, we can let UC know and we will work with people on individual basis and go through individual assessments.
32. I am currently studying for Level 2 Qualification – can that continue?Yes, it will continue.
33. I am currently contract to Nights but may need to transfer to days for family reasons – will I have to go on to Athena Terms and Conditions?No, we won’t insist on that. You would stay on the CHS payrate if you are being TUPE’d. For jobs which we advertise, they will be on a different rate.
34. Will there be Shift Coordinators?All current roles will remain in situ.35. We now have Atlas system for medication will that stay the same?No point in us introducing iCare when you have a better system that works.
36. Will we still have paid breaks?Yes, your Terms and Conditions are protected under TUPE.
37. What about sick pay?CHS sick pay is more generous than Athena, your terms and conditions are protected under TUPE. New people joining will be eligible for SSP only.
38. I have worked for other organisation where some people were TUPE and it caused friction.New team members accept the terms and condition of the job offered to them. We don’t want there to be conflict, you should be sensitive to others should the subject of T&C’s come up.39. Increase for costs to residents – how does that impact on wages?Cambridge is committed to paying an enhanced rate for placements if the staff are paid the National Living Wage.We must take account of geographical factors; we need to look at what rates of pay we will pay for new staff.
40. What benefits do Athena offer?We are looking at our benefits package. We pay for all team member’s Blue Light Cards, plus the renewals.
We are looking at our Wellness Strategy and delivering Well Being Workshops. Looking at everyone as individual and what they need. We employ a lot of women, so looking at Menopause workshops and other important issues that affect our team members.
41. What about Christmas holiday – how does that work?There is no strict rule. Whatever you have in place now will remainIt is decided per home. .It should be about fairness. It is not automatic that you get time off.
42. Is holiday a use it or lose it policy?Unless it is for exceptional reasons, we don’t allow holiday to be carried over.
43. I am from another country, what if I need emergency time off to travel overseas?You have to have special permission from our Regional Director for leave over 2 weeks.
44. Will Bank Holiday payments stay the same?Yes, if it is in the contract it is protected by TUPE.
45. Will there be support between Langdon House and Alex Wood House?I understand they run as separate business now, but we still want you to work together as you do now.
46. Are there any thoughts to change the names of the two homes?No.
47. Do you have chefs in the kitchens?Yes, we have a variety of job roles. Some have a Cook, Kitchen Assistant. We will look at the structure.
48. Are staff allowed a meal on duty?We do provide meals for our staff who are on 12-hour shifts. Your current practice will remain in place.
49. Will residents still get a Christmas present?We celebrate important days in the year and we want to continue with good practices.
50. Will we be required to complete timesheets?Yes, for now, may change in the future.
51. Why do Casual staff have to complete all the forms, why isn’t the information held by CHS being transferred over to Athena?Casual workers do not automatically transfer to Athena, therefore CHS has sought consent to share your contact details so that we can contact you directly. As you will not TUPE transfer to Athena a recruitment process needs to happen, the forms are necessary to gather the information.
52. What are the support teams to connect with?We have a really big support team, Quality Team, Regional Team, Group Operations Director, Regional Admin Manager. We have a team of four in HR. We have marketing, sales and hospitality. We use a weekly locator form so everyone knows where you will be. We spend a lot of time out on sites.
53. Where is Athena Central Support Office?It is in Essex, near Basildon.
54. Will you bring any new equipment in?Our Estates team have been round looking at what you need. It is not about bringing in everything new. We want to learn from you.55. Will the culture change?We are two different companies so the culture will probably change. There will be certain things that Athena do that CHS don’t and vice versa.Athena is a fun place to work.We do annual team awards. We recently had a “pie face competition” which the residents loved. This was a charity event and raised around £700.00.Athena currently has 700 staff. It will be nice for you to be part of a business that only focuses on Care Homes.It is a period of change, and we know that some will find it difficult, but we do have enough people to support and help you.If you’d like to see what else we’re up to, take a look at our Facebook pages.We are very excited about you all joining our team and looking forward to working with you.