INDUSTRY INSIGHT: finding and keeping care home workers

Sharon Allen

With around 60% of care homes’ running costs being poured into staff, the challenges of recruitment, retention and training cannot be more critical. Sharon Allen CEO of Skills for Care and National Skills Academy for Social Care, explains how investment in people is every care home’s greatest opportunity.

Our annual Size of Structure of the Adult Social Care Sector in England report tells us that there are now 1.55 million jobs across the adult social care sector, which is an increase of 3% on the previous year and broadly in line with the workforce projections we undertook back in 2009/10.

We know that we will need to fill hundreds of thousands of new job roles over the next decade and when I meet any employers the one thing we are guaranteed to talk about is their struggle to find and keep quality workers. This never ending pressure means it has never been more important for us to help employers find, keep and train people with the right skills, talents and values to work for their organisation.

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When I took over at Skills for Care, I made it clear we needed to support employers, but when I was the CEO of a major social care provider in the North of England, I was well aware of the huge amount of information and material bombarding my managers.

I knew from my own experience that employers wanted a simplified route to information in one place, which can then support them with their own very unique recruitment and retention challenges. There was also a clear need to create a one-stop-shop, which would present hard-won knowledge and experience from across the sector in an easy to understand way that busy employers can use in their day to day practice.

Finding and Keeping Workers is a new online resource that helps to capture all of this information and experience in one place. Hosted on the Skills for Care website, the resource acts as a useful signposting tool that can support your efforts to attract more people, take on the right people, foster talent, increase skills and keep good people when you have recruited them.

By categorising information through these four key themes it has allowed us to create a clear and easy way for employers to find solutions to the some of the most common recruitment and retention challenges. Employers can also search for specific resources by using the central resources library Resources to Help You, which includes a range of useful videos, documents and websites.

Finding and Keeping Workers was developed in partnership with the Department of Health recruitment and retention group and is based firmly on real life experiences that will make a real difference to adult social care employers across England. It is key to supporting the implementation of the Adult Social Care Workforce Recruitment and Retention Strategy 2014-2017, and we have consulted with employers at every stage of its development.

As well as capturing important information from across the sector, finding and keeping workers also allows us to highlight some of our key recruitment and retention initiatives such as I Care…Ambassadors.  Our ambassadors play a key role in helping potential care workers to understand what it’s like to work in social care by visiting schools, colleges and job centres to share what they love about going to work and the challenges they face. We know that sort of straight talking works because 33% of people who talk with an ambassador report that they think more positively about pursuing a career in social care and 88% say they knew more about the range of jobs on offer in social care.

Finding and keeping workers has been designed to help employers identify with this type of initiative and to understand how this could be integrated within their existing recruitment and retention practices. Leeds City Council’s We Care Academy is a prime example of how employers can use this resource to support a flexible approach to recruitment and retention.

As well as being an awarding winning I Care…Ambassador service, they have used this resource to gather more information about values based recruitment and retention and regularly used our pre-interviewing personality profiling tool, A Question of Care.

I know this approach works having met Lucy Horton who is one of the academy’s recent graduates. Having secured a full time job through the academy she is now sharing her story with others as part of her ambassador role. She is a very impressive addition to our sector and proves that with the right tools and information we can find the right people to work in social care.

Skills for Care are committed to sharing best practice from across the sector to support common recruitment and retention challenges. This can never be a one way street so we need employers of all sizes to contribute to the future development of the resource. You can do this by sharing positive examples of what’s working for your organisation.

You can also help us improve the resource by providing feedback as part of an on-going evaluation. All you have to do is give us your views by completing a short questionnaire which can be accessed via our website.

To access the resource go to

Tags : Finding and Keeping WorkersRecruitmentRetentionSkillsSkills for CareTrainingWorkforce
Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder

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