Rethinking Recruitment within Older Peoples’ Services
Rhiann McLean – IRISS Associate
I met a support assistant about 2 months ago (in my life outside of work) who said that her position in care was a privilege; her pride and her calling. She said that she couldn’t imagine doing anything else on earth. I briefly googled human cloning before abandoning that idea in favour of reshaping recruitment to help people find people like her…
Recruiting and retaining committed staff is a huge challenge for the independent sector. Each recruitment cycle is a huge drain on resource; from the cost of the ad to the time spent shortlisting and interviewing participants. A number that is often cited as an estimate is that it costs over three thousand pounds per position, including induction and training.
Independent care at home organisations are experiencing increasing pressure to grow and meet demand; not surprising, giving the national drive for older people to stay at home longer. Some of these agencies are in a constant recruitment process, finding it difficult to find the right staff and keep them.
This in turn affects the stability and continuity that the people who access these services value, and also makes it difficult for providers, as employers, to invest in their staff’s ongoing development. It’s also difficult for staff, who may not be able to establish robust team working – and may lose morale.
Values can be the common thread that links employees, employers and people who use services. They bridge the worlds of ‘informal’ and ‘formal’ care. They are vital to building and sustaining relationships with people who use services.
The way in which support is shaped and delivered is changing (for the better!) And providers are looking for staff with the values that are needed to embrace their changing role. This means:
- Finding staff who want to enable and empower the people they work with (do with, not for)
- Finding staff who want to work with people in an outcomes focussed way
- Finding staff who can listen to and take lead from the people who use services
- Finding staff who can support increasingly complex needs amongst older people – becoming experts in dementia and palliative care
- Finding staff with integrity, adaptability and imagination.
And knowing that the financial rewards for this line of work are not overwhelming, we need them to find this type of work rewarding (and create an infrastructure which does this as well)
Where do we start?
This project is focussing on the redesign of recruitment to focus on supporting providers to get in touch with their own values, and then recruit based on these values. We hope that this will help them retain a committed, effective workforce that is ready to respond to the changing needs of older people at home.
This project will challenge providers of care and support to think:
- What are our values?
- What are the values of the people who use our services? (will these change over time?)
- What values are we looking for in staff?
- How and where do we find these people?
- How will we make this work rewarding for our staff?
The rise of fair employment practice has brought continuity, equality and diversity to the care and suport sector. It has made employment more fair and standardised, and safer for people who use services.
However, I cannot help but get the impression, when reading down a 2 page job profile… that the values that employers may be looking for are lost in translation .
Sometimes it’s nice when preparing for the future… to look to the past:
War propaganda has to be straight to the point and effective to meet desperate needs. It was designed to reach every household and deliver a very simple, very clear message. This poster directly appeals to its audience and answers the key questions detailed above:
- What are our values? duty, personal responsibility, commitment, work ethic
- What values are we looking for in staff? The uniform suggest professional skill (but doesn’t allude to any specific skill which may alienate workers), the woman’s gesture/posture suggests enthusiasm and the backdrop suggests duty and responsibility
- How will we make this work rewarding for our staff? The ad suggests that the role will be rewarding because it supports the larger war effort, doing a greater good for the country. The woman drawn on the ad also looks proud of her personal accomplishment.
I would be happy to see providers really get to the root of what they are looking for, and really plan out their future workforce.
I’d like to support them to find a modern, interesting way of conveying this to their audience. And by being clear and transparent about what their values are, starting a dialogue with their service users about what matters most to them and conveying this to staff- they are likely to find a ‘match’, who will stay and grow with their organisation.