Home Recruitment Addressing workforce challenges with a blended recruitment model

Addressing workforce challenges with a blended recruitment model

by Kirsty Kirsty

Amanda Scott, CEO, Forest Healthcare

Delivering person centred care is reliant on having a team in place who are not only skilled and experienced to be equipped to deliver excellent care, but also really know the resident they are providing the care to.

Significant efforts were made to ensure that recruitment and retention at Forest Healthcare were a priority and this focus began before the pandemic changed the challenges we all faced. Despite the pandemic our workforce held strong, and we were able to limit the use of externally contracted agency staff to a modest level. In 2020 our extent of agency use was 4.9% of our overall payroll cost, and we reduced this in 2021 to 4.3%. By March 2022 it was evident that vacancies were beginning to rise, as the effects of burnout, Brexit and the impact of mandatory vaccinations took their toll, resulting in a rise in agency costs to 9% of the payroll.

It was evident that our recruitment approach would need to accelerate. Our recruitment partner, and our own recruitment monitoring noted a reduction in interest and subsequent applications. The overwhelming feeling became, ‘there is no calvary coming’. Whilst we had been investing in, and enhancing our engagement platform, it became imperative that we took a two-pronged approach to our revised strategy.

Firstly, we undertook a full team member survey. We outsourced this to a company skilled to tailor questions to focus on identifying what we do well and what were the opportunities to improve. Significant investment of time was given in preparing the current workforce to understand how important their participation was resulting in a response of 74%, thus providing a valuable sample size, and allowing us to develop a group and home by home ‘People Plan’. This remains a live document with positive actions and outcomes recorded throughout the calendar year, ensuring we continue to engage our workforce team to ensure they feel listened to and valued.

Secondly, in April we engaged with a company to support us with recruiting from overseas. It was very evident that a workforce existed who wanted to come to the UK, with current unsolicited contacts received on a weekly basis from people hoping to gain sponsorship . We worked with the company to establish our vacancies by current and future job role, aware that a number of future hires would aspire to obtaining registration with the NMC after joining us. Three workstreams were established, licence and certification, interview and selection and finally induction. The applications for a licence and certification was led by our CFO, who worked with the legal team and the Home Office to ensure the process was robust. With frustrating delays from the Home Office, our CFO wrote to the MP’s of the constituencies where recruits were most needed to ask for support. Our COO and Home Managers led the recruitment process ensuring through partnership with the supporting company that interviews, and screening were detailed and thorough, not only recruiting for skill set, but looking for empathy and passion to work in the field of social care, aligning with our own core living values.

Our in house learning and development team prepared a bespoke orientation, induction and supervision plan. The recruitment company supported the candidates preparation for arrival, sourcing accommodation, orientation to the local area and supporting practical aspects such as banking, shopping and registering with a GP.

The process has been well executed, the key being clearly designated responsibilities and close communication. The most significant challenge has been and continues to be, the length of time to achieve the licence and certificates. From engaging with our overseas recruitment partners in April 2022 it took until October 2022 to welcome our first overseas hire to Forest Healthcare. Having now received over 2022 additional highly valued team members, we are about to embark on a pulse survey to capture early feedback and ensure that this workforce feel integrated and engaged and learn anything we can to support future hires.

Image depicts Amanda Scott, CEO, Forest Healthcare

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