Why the care sector needs schemes like Kick Start

Christian Bone, Chief Executive, Care Development East

Christian Bone, Chief Executive, Care Development East

Kick Start for Care is a pioneering scheme to attract new staff into the sector. It seeks to recruit those out of work or those working in other industries to turn their hand to care as a career, offering financial and training incentives to support them on their journey into long and meaningful careers. 


The scheme started in June of last year, and since then has attracted over 200 candidates. It continues to grow in popularity, funded by Suffolk County Council and run by Care Development East.


In a recent report by Skills for Care, the concerning and ongoing shortages in staffing, with vacancies in social care in England rising by a record 52% in one year, with 1 in 10 posts vacant. In the struggle to recruit staff, initiatives like Kick Start for Care are crucial in future proofing the ongoing sustenance and recovery of the sector which has suffered sustained underfunding by central government.


In the Eastern Region, local authorities have been looking at innovative ways to address the acute staff shortages that exist in the Social Care providers.  One notable example is the boost the Kick Start Care Career scheme has given to Orwell Housing Association’s recruitment drive. Jackie Piacenti, who submitted the Kick Start application for new starter Michelle comments: “When Orwell Housing Association learned about the Kickstart a Care Career scheme, we agreed without any hesitation that it would be great to get involved. Orwell has always been supportive in providing opportunities within our Care and Support division for people without experience or thinking about getting back to work. Supported by Care Development East, the initiative has enabled us to support employment within the local Suffolk community and offer many job opportunities for new and returning Care and Support workers.”


Michelle Leverington started a new career in care in October 2022, when she began working as a Care Assistant for Orwell Housing Association. As she was new to working in the Care Sector her employer entered her into the Kick Start to Care scheme, and after successfully completing a 12-week working period, Michelle has received a £750 bonus payment, and is the 100th candidate on the scheme to reach this milestone. 


Michelle said “I was delighted to hear I’m the 100th successful Kick Start in Care candidate, the £750 is a very welcomed bonus. I would recommend anyone looking for a change in career to the Care Sector, especially if you like talking, and making even the smallest of differences to people’s lives you will easily be rewarded. The last 3 months have flown by and the team I work with have been incredibly supportive, I’ve already been told I’m a part of the family.”


Recruitment and retention of staff continue to be the main challenges to care providers in the region. Competition from other sectors has always been an issue and the provision of an incentive in the form of Kick Start was a direct response to this. The ease of application and the direct benefits to participants have been instrumental in making the scheme a success.


One provider participating in the scheme summarises the benefits as follows:


‘This scheme has been a great incentive for joining staff. The first months are always the trickiest but giving employees an incentive to stay for a little bit longer has allowed us to provide a robust training for new joining staff which it is also resulting in better retention.’


Schemes like Kick Start help the sector dispel so many misconceptions about careers in care.  Facilitating entry into the sector via multiple disciplines and different care requirements, the scheme is one piece in the ever evolving puzzle that the country has to solve to help sustain an industry previously on its knees. The financial incentives are in fact, outweighed by the job satisfaction gained by those entering their first jobs in care, demonstrated by the incredible retention figures and onward journeys, which we are starting to enjoy watching evolve into long term jobs that have genuine impact on peoples’ lives. 


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