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Recruitment and retention of staff

Skills for Care estimates that around 390,000 people leave their jobs every year – that’s over 1,000 every day - and approximately 110,000 vacancies at any one time. This means we need to increase the size and skills of the adult social care workforce and stem the flow of wasted resources on recruiting people who aren't going to stay in the sector. Recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce, who have the right values, can help care services to deliver high quality and consistent care and support.

Department of Health Recruitment Campaign.The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is running a national recruitment campaign to drive applications into the adult social care sector. The campaign launched on 12 February with national and regional media engagement. Advertising will go live in stages, starting with Google paid search and social media advertising followed by more on websites, job boards and on local radio from later that week. From 25 February, providers may see outdoor posters near their services. The adverts feature care professionals and the people they support. Case studies on the campaign Facebook page will help to showcase the wide range of rewarding and varied job roles in adult social care. All advertising will point to the campaign website which then directs users to DWP Find a Job to search vacancies. Providers can keep updated on the campaign at

How can providers improve the recruitment and retention of staff? In order to find and keep people with the right values to work in adult social care, according to Skills for Care, services must adopt a values-based approach which will help services to improve performance and turnover. Recruiting people for their values and behaviours ensures that services get the right people to work in their organisation, who know what it means to provide high quality care and support and are more likely to stay. This approach involves establishing strong workplace values and ensuring that the workforce matches them. Doing this will help to reduce time and wasted resources in recruiting the wrong people.

Use of apprenticeships Speaking at the Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Employability and Skills Conference, Brendan Kelly, managing director of Heathcotes Group said “It annoys me that care workers are constantly referred to by the government and media as being ‘low skilled’. They are not. “Care workers require a wide range of skills, including medical knowledge, finance and budgeting, dynamic risk assessment, positive behaviour support and food hygiene to name just a few. Calling them low skilled is impacting on recruitment in the sector and turning off school leavers from entering the profession.” At the conference, Kelly also revealed that the Apprentice Levy had driven a culture change in apprenticeships within Heathcotes Group. He explained: “We are using the Levy as a tool to develop the workforce rather than viewing it as a tax. Older workers are using apprenticeships to upskill which is enabling us to plug skills gaps. However, our priority remains to recruit young people to the care sector.” Heathcotes Group has partnered with national apprenticeship training provider Learning Unlimited Group to jointly introduce sector-based work academies offering short courses, including Health & Social Care qualifications and employability skills. The partnership has produced some exceptional results for Heathcotes with an 82% increase in apprenticeship starts between 2013/14 and 2017/18. Heathcotes’ achievement rates are also well above national average: 74% for Health & Social Care roles, compared to 66.9% nationally, and 68.8% for Care Leadership & Management compared to 63.8% nationally. In Business & Administration Heathcotes’ rate is 100% compared to a 71% national average. Since 2013 the Heathcotes Group has recruited nearly 600 apprentices. In an effort to further increase local apprenticeship participation, Heathcotes Group has recently joined Chesterfield Apprenticeship Ambassador Network, which is part of the Apprentice town initiative.

Summary Social care services continue to face severe problems in trying to recruit and retain staff. A problem that has now been given recognition by central government. The launch of a national recruitment campaign will shed a sharper focus on the problem and may encourage more young people to seek a career in social care services. Skills for Care highlight the importance of a value-based service, and Brendan Kelly is right about not referring to care workers as low skilled in what is ultimately a highly skilled and demanding job. Nor should we forget the valuable contribution made by apprentices. Albert Cook Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy

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