Those who work in the care sector have huge levels of responsibility and pressure put upon them, often in return for relatively low levels of pay. When combined with continued uncertainty over Brexit, it comes as no surprise that some care providers are facing a recruitment crisis.
Steve Sawyer, director of Access Health and Social Care, part of the technology specialist, Access Group, argues that, with no end in sight for the current recruitment crisis, improving retention levels and increasing the productivity of the current workforce is imperative for care providers.
There is an increasing gap between the cost to deliver social care and the actual budget available, driven in part by increasing demand and the ever rising number of adults needing care for complex conditions. This, along with the ageing population, means that the demand for social care workers is at an all-time high and that service providers need to improve their processes and working conditions to ensure they continue to offer the highest levels of care.
Employers are facing huge difficulties in finding and keeping the best talent within the sector. CEOs and managing directors are finding that, although some workers may have a gleaming CV and great experience, their personal values may not be up to the standards required to work in the care industry. One factor for this is that the care industry often comes up against less demanding and better paid work, such as retail, which can be more appealing for job seekers.
One method being used to combat this is the increased use of psychometric assessments in the recruitment process. These tests can reveal far more about a candidate’s soft skills, such as resilience and adaptability meaning that, not only are candidates demonstrating their skills during a traditional interview, they are also highlighting the skills which cannot be put on paper, ensuring that they are the best fit for the job.
In a reassuring move, The Department of Health and Social Care is launching a national recruitment drive with television advertising among a range of marketing outreach designed to showcase the care sector as a more appealing career choice. Although this is welcomed, there are doubts over its potential impact as a similar campaign by the Department of Education hasn’t managed to solve the shortage of teachers even with more attractive salaries advertised – something that the care industry doesn’t have to offer at this time.
Encouragingly, many of the carers who leave their jobs are not leaving the care sector all together. Instead of turning their back on the industry, they are making lateral moves, to other care providers or care homes. Skills for Care estimates that the staff turnover rate of directly employed staff working in the adult social care sector was 30.7%. This means that just under 400,000 people leave their jobs over the year, with many staying within the sector. Figures reveal that 67% of recruitment in social care is from other roles within the sector, as opposed to taking on totally new staff with no industry experience.
These statistics suggest that if service providers can generate a high level of employee satisfaction, then they could benefit from high retention levels as the staff aren’t wanting to leave the care industry all together. What this also suggests is that the vast majority of staff have a genuine passion for care, meaning that customers should receive outstanding levels of service.
Among the advantages of using technology which can enable staff to spend more time on the higher value parts of their jobs, is the reduced amount of admin and office work required from carers. As well as allowing employees to spend more time offering the valuable face-to-face care that most staff entered the sector to provide, technology also is proven to increase productivity in general – something that is crucial during this current staff shortage. The Access Group’s health and social care division has also recently acquired iCareHealth, a move that will provide new software solutions to caregivers, meaning their work is the best it can be.
In order for employees to utilise new technological advances to their full potential, employers will need to ensure that they provide the best tools for staff to complete daily tasks. One simple way of doing this is for employers to provide each staff member with an up-to-date smartphone or tablet complete with software that allows each carer to directly access rotas, expense management and client care plans.
This is particularly useful in the domiciliary care sector, where the latest technology can reduce the number of unnecessary visits to the office and instantly access useful and up-to-date information about their clients. In turn, this can help carers with staff retention across the sector as it will enable staff to perform their jobs with minimal frustrations, allowing care homes to retain their best talent.
The majority of people who enter the care sector do so in order to provide vital face-to-face care to those who need it most. Whatever we can do to ensure that the challenges they face are minimised is key to increasing employee satisfaction, which will then directly improve the retention levels for care providers. Whilst we search for a solution to the current staffing crisis, it is critical that productivity remains as high as possible, with technology playing a key role for carers to maximise the returns from their current resources.