Two big challenges for any care provider is recruiting the right people in sufficient numbers in an environment of many negative perceptions of care, and then retaining these staff.
The demand for care home places has never been so great due to the country’s ageing population but the challenges faced by the sector are equally huge: there will be a predicted shortfall of 1.1m social care workers by 2037.
Our research has shown the factors affecting this are society undervaluing social care with 22% think social care work isn’t valued by government. Men see care as a woman’s job with 78% of men being unlikely to think about a career in adult social care.
At Anchor Hanover we know things such as statutory benefits aren’t the answer – no candidate ever says: “You get the amount of holidays or pay required by law, give me a job!” In fact, we were already paying above the actual living wage in some care jobs long before the government made this mandatory. The benefits we offer, such as shopping discounts and refer a friend scheme, are welcome but of secondary importance. What is crucial is that people join us because of what we do, our values, behaviours and culture.
We are always looking for opportunities to talk about the vast number of career paths within care. We work closely with educators, parent groups and the Department of Work and Pensions as well as the media.
We know there’s a lot of work to be done and we make time to listen to our local communities so we can work out the solutions. We have taken this local approach to identity where we have the biggest challenges. There are fewer men in care roles in north England, for example, so we know to put more effort there.
We never underestimate the value of a role model, identifying colleagues who enjoy and are successful in their job and are great advocates of what they do. This includes men, BAME colleagues and women in leadership roles, and our apprentice ambassadors. They speak to groups or individuals who may never have considered a career in care. And we ensure we celebrate these great staff, nominating them for sector awards so they realise their hard work and commitment is appreciated.
But we have to be honest about what a job in care entails. It has challenges, especially when supporting people with dementia. With this in mind, we revamped our job adverts, and we revised our recruitment toolkits to ensure candidates were given an honest insight into care. The key message is that care is hard work but is so rewarding making a positive difference to the lives of society’s most vulnerable members.
Anchor Hanover is England’s largest not-for-profit provider of care and housing for older people so all profits are ploughed back into improving our services and training. Once colleagues join, on-the job training, which is ongoing throughout their time with us, gives them the skills, support and knowledge needed, so they can do a job well in an organisation where they feel they belong. You can’t underestimate the importance of ensuring colleagues enjoy their job and feel able to contribute to the best of their ability to help our customers.
We’re doing our bit to professionalise the sector. We work hard to ensure that everyone is equipped with the tools to help them with the more challenging aspects of their roles. Over and above any statutory training, we currently offer more than 30 separate learning sessions, such as eLearning and workshops, to help everyone be their best. These subjects vary from Mental Health Awareness to Commercial Caring which can be accessed through our Anchor Academy or face-to-face events away from the workplace.
Setting out a clear route to a varied and successful career plays an important part in us encouraging people to get into and stay in adult social care and we encourage these opportunities through our in-house talent management programmes.
In addition, we are fully on board with the Adult Health and Social Care Apprenticeship offer. More than 200 people have signed up and we now plan to introduce the Catering Standards, which provides another clear career route within the care sector.
If people leave, we actively seek feedback on their experiences in order to make changes.
Highlighting the rewarding roles and the fun we have in social care is the responsibility of us all, whether talking to friends, family or the media as this helps counteract the misconceptions of care. But it’s also our responsibility as employers to give colleagues the training, support and recognition so we can retain this talented workforce and help turn them into ambassadors for the sector.