Rob Martin, Managing Director of Care Services, Anchor
Despite the challenges that COVID-19 has presented globally and to the care sector specifically, the pandemic has given care providers a unique opportunity to encourage people to consider a career in care.
Anchor’s research has revealed an upswing in respect and admiration for the social care sector with half of the UK public having a higher opinion of the sector than before than pandemic and 73 per cent demanding parity of esteem with the NHS. To tackle recruitment challenges, care providers have a responsibility to build on these positive conceptions of care and highlight that choosing a career in care and making a positive difference to the lives of residents is rewarding. It’s also our responsibility as employers to show the many different career paths available and give colleagues training, support and recognition so we can retain our workforce.
Part of this includes tapping into a diverse and varied talent pool. At Anchor we are proud to have four Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Colleague Networks to make sure our culture is inclusive to all and a reverse mentoring scheme which partners colleagues with senior managers to foster deeper understanding of experiences and challenges faced by people from diverse backgrounds.
Our successful Apprenticeship Programme, which currently has over 400 participants, also brings new people into the sector and in addition provides comprehensive training and support for colleagues already employed by us.
We recognise our achievements wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of our skilled and dedicated colleagues. We are committed to providing competitive rates of pay and last December committed to paying the Living Wage Foundation’s Real Living Wage rates to all colleagues. This was an important response to recognising the contribution of colleagues and sustaining services through the immediate challenges of the employment market while preparing for growth.
Wellbeing is important to all of us across Anchor and we provide a range of colleague benefits and advice, including how to maintain good mental health. Other benefits include shopping discounts, refer a friend scheme, and fertility support, all part of our efforts to attract a diverse talent workforce and retain colleagues. We’ve also launched several initiatives to encourage physical and mental wellbeing for residents and colleagues alike. Our Get Set, Cycle campaign saw 38,844 miles cycled across the organisation and we’re currently running our Juice Into January initiative to highlight the importance of hydration during the winter. We encourage colleagues to get involved in these activities to boost their wellbeing and contribute to successes across the whole organisation.
Care providers can also lead the way in making social care a career of choice by professionalising the sector and investing in the workforce. As England’s largest not-for-profit provider of housing and care, all profits are put back into the business to improve our services and training. We offer a range of learning and development opportunities allowing colleagues to not only enhance their skills but to provide a clear career pathway. Setting out a clear route to a varied and successful career plays an important part in encouraging people to stay with our organisation and in social care. Celebrating our fantastic colleagues and their hard work is part of this as well. At Anchor we nominate colleagues for sector awards and hold monthly Colleagues Awards to provide recognition across the organisation.
People are at the heart of the care sector and in order to continue to recruit and retain the right people to maintain high quality services, it is our responsibility as care providers to seize the moment and continue to shine a light on our amazing workforce while supporting colleagues with the tools to succeed in their careers.