Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage talks exclusively to CHP about the Government’s national social care recruitment campaign following its launch in February.
What are the root causes of the national crisis in social care recruitment?
1.47m people work in adult social care and demand is growing as people are living longer with increasingly complex health and social care needs. There are approximately 110,000 vacancies across England at any one time and we need to help fill this recruitment gap and support the sector in its local recruitment activity.
What are the key aims of the national campaign and how does it intend to overcome these challenges?
Our campaign aims to drive job applications now and in the future, and support providers’ own successful and sustainable recruitment strategies. Specifically, it aims to attract new people with the right values to the sector and increase interest in adult social care as a vocation, equipping the sector with the marketing tools to support the campaign and advice to recruit and retain the right people.
What tools are you providing to equip providers to help support the campaign?
A campaign toolkit has been developed so providers can use the national recruitment campaign to support their own local recruitment efforts. The aim is for the toolkit to live on the campaign website for providers to access, alongside materials such as posters and leaflets.
How is the campaign seeking to overcome the poor image of the social care workforce as a low wage and low skilled vocation?
Adult social care careers can be hugely rewarding, Skills for Care found 96% of people working in the sector feel their job makes a difference. Our advertising uses real care workers to highlight the positive, rewarding moments in ways which make people think differently about working in the sector, and crucially, demonstrate variety and opportunity.
How is the Government helping to make social care more attractive as a career package in terms of salary, skills and training, and career development opportunities?
Alongside this campaign, we’re working with our delivery partner Skills for Care to provide a range of resources and practical toolkits for providers to help attract, train and retain staff, including advice on recruitment and retention. This highlights the excellent career progression and development opportunities that are already out there.
What were the key learnings from your pilot campaigns and how are these feeding into the national campaign?
The pilots showed communications plays a key role in converting those interested in working in the sector by overcoming barriers, such as not knowing what qualifications are needed. Putting the workforce and the people they support at the centre of the campaign was also key; case studies are the most effective and engaging way to tell people what it is really like to work in the sector, and so we are using these in the national campaign. We also found that online is the most popular route for job hunting, but employers play a hugely important role too. Speaking to an employer during the search process more than doubles the chances of people applying. Whilst the pilots ran for too short a timeframe to be able to measure applications, we asked providers to post their vacancies online and saw 140% more vacancies on DWP Find a Job in Tyne and Wear during November, a fantastic testament to the positive local engagement with the pilot.
Can you highlight any successful case studies from the campaigns?
The pilots only ran for four weeks, which isn’t long enough to cover the length of a jobseeker’s pathway, however, for the national launch we have built up a collection of case studies of brilliant social care professionals who showcase the value of a career in this sector. Our adverts also feature real social care professionals, and the people they care for. For example, one advertising image features care worker Jacqui with her client Sally, who has Down’s Syndrome, cooking dinner together, highlighting how every day at work makes a difference for both of them.
How does the campaign aim to attract young people into the social care workforce?
First and foremost, we are trying to attract people with the right values to work in social care. The aim is to attract a diverse range of people but the campaign will have a focus on men and women aged 20-39 years old as research indicated that this group were the most likely to consider a role in adult social care in the next twelve months. Separate to this, across England our ‘I Care…Ambassadors’ are helping people, particularly young students, to make informed decisions about their careers by visiting schools, colleges and Jobcentres to run a range of careers activities.
How are you using social media to reach a young audience of potential care workers?
The campaign’s Facebook page facebook.com/everydayisdifferent is hosting a variety of content, and we have also developed two new quizzes which encourage users to reflect on their values to see if a job in social care is a right fit for them, or present scenarios to those actively considering a job in social care to see how they would react. This will help ensure the right people are recruited with the right values.
What role are care providers and care organisations playing in the campaign?
They play a vital role – we need their support to make this a success. We have been consulting throughout the development of the campaign with an Advisory Group made up of key national representative bodies and networks such as ADASS, the LGA, Skills for Care, CQC and UKHCA amongst others. I encourage local providers to work with and keep an eye on communications from their local representative bodies about the campaign. We want employers to post their vacancies on DWP Find a Job, share their case studies with us, follow the Facebook page and share our own content.
How does the Government aim to achieve an integrated health and social care workforce?
Strong relationships and joint working across health, social care and other public services are crucial to delivering high quality, seamless care and the Social Care Green Paper will set out the Government’s ambition for better integrated care. Currently, our Better Care Fund, which requires Local Authorities and CCGs to pool budgets and jointly plan for the purposes of integrated care, is improving joint working – with 93% of local areas agreeing that it did so last year. Additionally, in areas such as nursing, our new Nursing Associate role and the Nurse Degree Apprenticeship will open up routes into the registered nursing profession for thousands of people from all backgrounds and allow employers to grow their own workforce in both health and care.
How does the Government aim to ensure continued access to EU care workers following Brexit?
I am committed to ensuring the social care system has the nurses, carers and other health professionals that it needs. We value the contribution of the 104,000 EU nationals working in social care jobs and have been clear that we want them to stay working here in the UK after we leave the EU. The EU Settlement Scheme has launched, offering EU workers in the social care system the opportunity to secure their long-term future in the UK, and we continue to monitor and analyse overall staffing levels across adult social care, with work across Government to ensure there will continue to be sufficient staff to deliver the high-quality services on which patients rely following the UK’s exit from the EU.
How else is the Government supporting access to overseas workers to support the national recruitment drive?
The Government is engaging with stakeholders on the design of the future immigration system, which will focus on the skills someone can bring rather than where they’re from. This will be in place from January 2021, and will apply to Europe as well as the rest of the world. Our future immigration system will prioritise skilled workers and the Tier 2 visa cap will be abolished providing health care employers with continued certainty that they can recruit as many overseas doctors and nurses as they need.
Provider case studies and stories from their organisations are being used across the campaign, such as for local PR activity and for the campaign’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/everydayisdifferent. Interested providers can email firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information on how to get involved. Providers are also encouraged to advertise their vacancies on Find a Job on the Department for Work and Pensions website at https://www.gov.uk/jobsearch. For more information, go to the campaign’s website at www.everydayisdifferent.com