It’s no secret that the care sector is in urgent need of care workers; the industry has an above average turnover rate, with 32% of registered nurses and 27% of care workers leaving their roles in 2015-2016, compared to a national average in other professions of 15%. To put this into perspective, 900 care workers are leaving the sector each day. It’s clear that the industry needs to improve working conditions, pay standards, and optimise recruiting tools, if we want to avoid a downward spiral.
So how can care providers recruit and retain the next generation of care workers, who we rely on to look after a growing elderly population, which is expected to reach 15.5 million in the UK by 2030?
In a mobile-first world, recruiting through social media is incredibly important. Care providers should think about targeting Facebook users who are looking for social care jobs, or graduates who may be considering a variety of career options, and therefore more open to suggestions. Using social media as a recruitment tool will enhance search results and create a bigger pool of candidates. But don’t get lazy; be prepared to respond to comments or questions from users in real-time. Social media users have come to expect on-demand services, so it’s important to stay engaged if you want to stand out from competitors.
Next, think seriously about what it is about your business that will draw candidates in, and make sure you amplify this in the recruitment process. From our personal experience, candidates have been particularly impressed with some of our technology credentials, and our ability to automate many of the tedious day-to-day tasks they’ve faced in previous roles. We have a number of services, ranging from medication and food delivery, to on-demand transport through partnerships with Uber and Gett, that allow our care workers to focus on caring for their client, rather than spending their time running errands.
Investing in technology can also offer many other benefits when it comes to attracting staff. Digital care records, for example, can make a care worker’s role much easier, allowing them to update logs on-the-go, and focus more on care delivery. At Cera, we’re in the process of building an AI assistant who can support care workers’ decision-making, by flagging up any potential health problems the platform proactively identifies from care reports. Technology has the ability to empower care workers to go above and beyond in their roles, and could be the difference between a candidate choosing you, or another provider.
Training care workers requires time and money, and the average remuneration for their training, as well as their core working responsibilities, can be poor. Too many social care companies put extra costs on care workers, including requiring them to pay to receive training certificates after completing their training, or paying for their own insurance and uniform. Unlike most care providers, who can pay as little as £7.50 per hour while still expecting carers to cover added costs, we’ve seen a new breed of tech-enabled homecare providers who have launched over the past couple of years, on a mission to rebalance this. At Cera, we pay our care workers on average £16/hour, which is 50% more than the industry standard, and we also cover up to £5 million pounds’ worth of insurance per care worker. Sufficient pay not only attracts care workers to our books, but it also results in much higher staff retention than other social care providers
We are already aware that care workers are sometimes expected to provide services at unsociable hours, including overnight stays and live-in care. To encourage them to work such hours, they should be given the flexibility to manage their own schedule. For example, rather than forcing them to do certain shifts, instead allow them to choose what suits them best. It enhances their work/life balance, they are happier to come to work, and the quality of service they provide improves. Digitising the process is key here, as it allows them to manage their time more effectively, and ensure everything is logged in on a central place to avoid confusion.
Finally, make recruitment personal. At Cera, we not only ask care workers about their work history and experience, but also encourage them to show their personality. This not only makes care workers feel valued, but also means that we are able to match our clients to the right care workers.