Opinion

Recruitment and retention in COVID days

Martin Jones, CEO, Home Instead UK

Retail, hospitality, travel; a whole host of sectors have been hit badly by the pandemic. With the future uncertain, an endless number of people are left in limbo as they wait for their sector to recover. But what if a different sector offered a rewarding career-path that still meant utilising transferable skills from other roles?

Year after year we see caregivers join Home Instead UK who haven’t previously worked in care. Whether they spent 40 years working as a mechanic or two years waiting tables, they all offer different skillsets, which will benefit our clients. After all, we prize a warm heart and a desire to make a difference over previous care experience, and that’s because care is about so much more than keeping somebody physically well; it’s about connecting with people and building a relationship. Countless sectors require people values like this.

The pandemic has heightened awareness and respect for work in the social care sector. Like others, we have benefited from an influx of talent that we would not have otherwise had the opportunity to engage with, from sectors that have been impacted. Our challenge as a sector is to make sure they stay and there are many ways in which we can do this.

Facing redundancy and unemployment is a tough ordeal, but many of our caregivers have turned a negative into a positive and entered a rewarding career that they wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

Valuing employees should be a priority for all care companies. It benefits everyone involved: the employees themselves, the clients, and the management team. Only if care companies maintain the wellbeing of staff will they feel valued and continue in their care role.

At Home Instead UK, one way we uphold staff wellbeing is through our employee assistance programme, available to all staff across the company. It offers six face to face counselling sessions by a professional that can help with issues such as bereavement and mental health. Throughout the pandemic, dealing with loss and trying to cope emotionally has been all too familiar for some. Our caregivers don’t have to pay a penny to speak to a professional who can help get them through these tough times.

Showing that staff are valued is often about communicating the resources that are available. As a Trustee on the board for The Care Workers’ Charity, I’m a massive advocate for the work it does to support those working in social care. I supported the charity in setting up its COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund which gave access to grants for former and current care workers. During the pandemic, many care workers have been faced with challenging situations, including being unable to work if they need to shield, pay for a funeral, and cover childcare costs incurred due to the pandemic. These scenarios became grounds for applying for a grant. This support has been invaluable to many.

The UK’s care sector is brimming with outstanding professionals that protect the most vulnerable of society. That only happens if care companies cast the net wide and recruit people from a range of sectors. Over the COVID-19 pandemic particularly, we have appointed caregivers from all walks of life who, with some training, have gone on to add so much positivity to the lives of our clients.

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