Raj Sehgal, Managing Director of Armscare, is on the frontline of the care home recruitment crisis.
Armscare operates four homes of 25-39 beds in rural areas of North West Norfolk.
“There aren’t the people to recruit in the local area,” Raj told Care Home Professional.
“Everybody’s competing for the same staff.”
The difficulties of local care home providers in attracting and retaining suitably qualified staff were starkly highlighted for Raj by the recent closure of Four Seasons Courtenay House Care Home in Kings Lynn (see Recruitment issues take toll on another Four Seasons home).
“Courtenay House is right on our doorstep,” Raj said. “We are seeing homes close all the time. It’s frightening.”
Around five years ago, Armscare became licensed sponsors of an overseas recruitment scheme but increasingly stringent criteria made its continued participation untenable.
Combined with this, Raj has seen Eastern European staff head back home because of Brexit uncertainty.
As a result, the managing director has become increasingly reliant on agency staff.
“We are expected to improve quality and you can’t improve quality when you are reliant on staff that come and go,” Raj stressed.
“The higher the staff turnover you have; the lower the quality of care you provide.”
Staffing problems have forced Raj to put a 30-bed extension of one of his homes on ice.
Higher staffing costs are also forcing the care home provider, which currently provides three-quarters of its beds to local authority, to increasingly favour private payers.
“What we need is a fairer recruitment policy,” Raj told us.
“The Government has to reduce the barriers to enable small employers to recruit people freely from overseas. There aren’t the local people that want to do this sort of job.
“We need some political changes that allow us to do our jobs properly, not money that seems to disappear into the system.”