By Samantha Culverhouse, Recruitment Manager at Hightown Housing Association
It’s no secret that recruitment in adult social care is a problem across the country. According to a recent report by Skills for Care, there are around 110,000 adult social care vacancies in England at any one time. Given the factors against us, we decided to trial a complete overhaul of our process.
Some of our rural care homes, where service users need more personal care, had been struggling to recruit for quite some time. We focused on four of these schemes to test a new way of recruiting.
Taking the agency approach
Before we started, we visited the schemes, spoke to staff and met the residents so we were well placed to talk about what the jobs involved.
We took a similar approach to a recruitment agency. Rather than our usual application form, we simply asked for name and contact details and a brief CV so we could call them for a telephone interview. We had around 70 applications per job. The phone calls gave us a good sense of whether people were genuinely interested in the job.
We called back candidates within 24 hours so they were still interested and unlikely to have already been offered something else. We made sure they understood the role, what personal care is and which shifts they could do. By speaking to candidates at the beginning, we built good relationships which meant they were still keen once they were offered the post.
Looking beyond a CV
We can’t just rely on recruiting people who already have care experience, there’s simply not a big enough pool of people out there. We need to bring new people into care and the competition isn’t just from other care providers, it’s on the high street and in the supermarkets where, admittedly, you can sometimes earn more money.
Despite some negative stereotypes of working in care, the emotional reward is powerful and marks it out as different to many other jobs. It’s that aspect we tapped into and emphasised in our advertising and recruitment materials.
Sometimes people have cared for a loved one or had a life changing experience which made them reassess their life and want to work in care. Often, this won’t be included on their CV or in an application form and we only discover this when we speak to them over the phone.
Digital by default?
We’re in an era where we’re often told we need to be ‘digital by default’. But this exercise taught us that technology isn’t always the answer. We want our care workers to be caring and good with people – tech-savvy isn’t the most important thing.
Therefore, changing the way we advertise roles which aren’t formal or office based, made sense. Why force people to fill out a long online application form just because it suits us?
Quick, easy and personal
The new approach has been working. By making the candidate journey quick, easy and personal, in the last six months we’ve trebled the number of recruits in the Bracknell area which has helped fill 17 of the long-term vacancies we had. It can be resource intensive but as the number of vacancies reduces across Hightown and given the success we’ve had, we’re looking at expanding this approach into more areas.