Russell Stephens, Talent Acquisition Lead at Exemplar Health Care, believes that organisations across the care sector should take a person-centred approach to recruitment, and explains why staff should be matched with service users, and how this can be done.
Putting people at the heart of every decision should be the number one priority for care home providers. This is particularly important when supporting people with very complex and individualised needs.
At Exemplar Health Care, care workers are people that service users can rely on – acting as a source of emotional and physical support. It is therefore important to ensure that every service user is matched with the right support team – ensuring that they have the right skills, but also that they can help to build meaningful relationships between colleagues and residents.
We ensure that our colleagues have the right values and skills to care for the people they’re supporting, especially as some have very specific needs, including neuro-disability, brain injury and stroke, enduring mental ill-health, autism, learning disability and early-onset dementia.
To ensure that there’s a match, we sometimes recruit candidates with a specific service user in mind, assessing their capability of working with that individual. Relevant experience and knowledge are essential, and, often, we take this a step further and look for specific values, skills, personality traits and interests.
It is important that both the carer and the service user have as much information as possible about each other before a match is made, which is why we often involve service users in recruitment activities. Just recently we held a recruitment open day at one of our care homes, Yarningdale in Ripley, Derbyshire, and a service user was there to share her first-hand experience with the candidates. She attended some of the interviews, and applicants were told what it was like to live at the care home. At the end, we asked her what she thought about the candidates and her opinion played a big part in the final decision.
Certain conditions need to be closely monitored and care must be extremely personalised and tailored. We recently recruited a team of support workers for an autistic resident who had been detained under Sector 3 of the Mental Health Act for a number of years. Her condition significantly impacted how she coped with everyday life, meaning that she relied on a consistent approach from a skilled staff team who understood her non-verbal cues to anticipate her needs. As such, we recruited support workers who were patient, compassionate and had a caring nature, as well as team leaders who had relevant experience.
Matching staff to service users, particularly in a complex care setting, is vital. It is about listening to and understanding the dreams and hopes of that person; what makes them happy and what makes them sad. Getting this wrong will impact badly on the people we support and the entire service.
A well prepared and considerate team will go a long way, which is why 96.5% of our homes are rated ‘Good’ and ‘Outstanding’ by Care Quality Commission (CQC). It is not an easy task – matching takes time and resources. It also requires a high level of training and commitment from all involved, whether it is the care team, the management or the local authority commissioners. But it is vital in ensuring that people get the person-centred care and support that they need and deserve.