County heads field in care worker recruitment with hub

North Yorkshire is celebrating one of the first recruitment initiatives of its kind in the country to provide care workers for the pressurised care industry.

Jordan Leach with Michelle Payne and residents Christopher and Felicity

Through the Care Recruitment Hub, North Yorkshire County Council acts as the single point of contact for private care providers and candidates.  It advertises vacancies on behalf of the private sector and is developing a talent pool of candidates to match them more easily to posts on offer.

Since its launch, the recruitment hub has helped to fill 200 care vacancies in recent months, the equivalent of about 315,000 care hours annually. More than 125 care providers across North Yorkshire signed up to use the service and more coming on board.

“Care providers tell us that the recruitment of care workers is one of the biggest challenges they face,” said Cllr Michael Harrison, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health Integration. “North Yorkshire needs more care workers than ever before to meet the requirements of the county’s growing number of older and vulnerable people. National studies show that demand for services and demographic trends in North Yorkshire are five years ahead of the national average.

“People’s needs are increasingly more complex so there is a bigger requirement for care to promote independent living.  The need for care workers has never been greater, and the recruitment of care workers never been more difficult.

“We are therefore using our award-winning recruitment team, with its specialist knowledge of the care industry, to support care providers across the private sector.”

The team is building a national reputation for its innovation and this month is also shortlisted for a creativity award by the Public Services People Management Association.

A recent study by the King’s Fund think tank revealed how an additional 55,000 care staff would be needed nationally by 2035 to meet the needs of an aging society and that there are currently thousands of unfilled vacancies in the north.

In a rural county like North Yorkshire, where care workers can be required to travel long distances, where the cost of property is higher than the national average and where there is near to full employment in many areas, the recruitment of care workers is particularly challenging.

The county council’s long-running campaign, Make Care Matter, has already done much to raise the profile of a career in the care sector across the region.  When it became increasingly clear that care providers needed more support with the recruitment process, the council stepped in with a solution. 

It is using some of its share of the Government’s Improved Better Care Fund to run the Care Recruitment Hub, which is rapidly building a strong track record.

It acts to create a talent pool of candidates so that when providers seek assistance with one of their vacancies the hub is in a position to provide suitable candidates that match the vacancy criteria, speeding up the process considerably.

“We pre-screen candidates, assessing their skills, suitability and requirements,” said Cllr Harrison, “and we provide advice, guidance and coaching for interviews and feedback after interviews.  We keep in touch with care providers and candidates in the talent pool on a regular basis to ensure engagement so we can quickly provide candidates who match requirements. This also helps to encourage candidates continued interest in a career in care.

“Care providers say the recruitment hub cuts out a lot of the time and difficulty of finding suitable care workers to work for them.” 

Mike Padgham, Chair of the Independent Care Group, said: “There are more than 100,000 social care vacancies on any one day at the moment, so any positive initiative that looks to bring more people into the sector has to be welcomed with open arms.

“We are delighted to support North Yorkshire County Council in this recruitment initiative and pleased to see that it is already bearing fruit and people are being recruited into the wonderful and rewarding career of social care. The County Council is to be congratulated.”

For further information about the hub, email makecarematter@northyorks.gov.uk.

Case studies:

Ashurst Residential, Scarborough

Andrew Lawson, the registered manager at Ashurst Residential in Scarborough, said: “The service is absolutely superb. Members of the recruitment hub really understand what type of candidates we are looking for. Their filtering system means we get people who are genuinely interested and have some understanding of what the care sector is all about.”

Jordan Leach, who obtained a job as a support worker at Ashurst through the recruitment hub, previously worked at Tesco as an online personal shopper. He was not fulfilled in his retail job and wanted to help people in a more meaningful way and to develop a career in mental health.

He finds his new job hugely rewarding and is really proud of the fact that he is able to help people in real need.  He is happier both in and out of work.  When he first spoke to the recruitment hub about his background and experience, he didn’t think he would get anywhere in the care sector.

He said: “I thought they were just being nice by saying they would get me a job. The fact that they put me forward for multiple roles made me feel that someone was committed to help me. They kept in touch and were genuinely interested in my progress. It has made a huge difference to my life.”

Ashurst deputy manager Michelle Payne said: “The recruitment hub has saved us so much time from constantly having to re-advertise for jobs and has found us candidates, like Jordan, who have a real passion for the work.”

Andrew Lawson said Jordan was “like a breath of fresh air”.  “He is really committed to his work and has affected all our residents in a really positive way. Jordan came from stacking shelves at Tesco to giving care to 90-year-olds, but he has adapted so quickly and his confidence levels have grown and grown.  We have now taken on other people through the hub.  It’s really working for us.”

Bluebird Care UK

The Harrogate office of this national homecare provider supports families and individuals throughout Harrogate district.

Sarah Kemp, Bluebird’s registered care manager for Harrogate, said that the company offered competitive pay and conditions and training but struggled to combat the negative image of the care sector and to recruit care workers. 

The County Council’s Recruitment Hub, she said, had proved “a massively refreshing change. It provides the necessary advice and help and its success in recruiting staff for us has been outstanding and the quality of the candidates impressive.

“It really should be used nationally as the support is amazing! It’s a much-needed initiative in the care sector.”

Jan is a 26-year-old man who always wanted a job where he could help people and make a difference.  However, he suffers from anxiety and had always been told he wouldn't be “any good” in a caring role. 

Through the Recruitment Hub, Jan has found employment with Bluebird Care where he enjoys making a visible difference to people’s lives. He was referred to the Hub after being in contact with the council’s supported employment team. He praised the speed of the process: “The Recruitment Hub called me and we discussed the different types of roles and what might suit me best. Then a week later I had an interview lined up. If I'm honest, I didn't expect to even hear from them again, let alone have an interview. It was almost too good to be true as now I have a job I love!

“Bluebird Care has also supported me a lot. The shadowing has been very good, and they've been very accommodating and the flexible hours work well with my anxiety.  I would definitely recommend care to anyone who enjoys working with other people.”

This story was published 23 May 2019