Recruiting new workers can be challenging at any time, but during the COVID-19 pandemic this challenge has been even greater. We’re sharing examples of how providers and local authorities across the country have tackled workforce capacity issues in their area.
In partnership with organisations across England we’ve developed case studies that look at different initiatives, covering:
Each case study includes what they did, who they worked with and what was achieved to help you establish your own measures. You’ll also find examples of some local recruitment initiatives that the sector has developed over the past months.
These are banks of staff which providers can recruit from at short notice or banks of staff managed directly by providers. Potential staff will frequently have had training before joining the bank.
County Durham Care Academy
County Durham Care Academy was launched by Durham County Council in September 2019 to support local adult social care providers with recruiting new staff and developing existing staff.
Due to COVID-19 the original recruitment model needed to change to enable a fast-track and/or remote approach. A social media campaign was launched through the Care Academy’s Facebook page @CareAcademyDurham in April 2020, targeting the recruitment of staff into three key roles: care worker, domestic assistant and kitchen assistant.
Local care provider staff have also been involved in the social media campaign. Applicants apply through an online form; the approved applications generate an online reference request and the fast track enhanced DBS process commences.
As the pre-employment checks begin, applicants undertake remote training through the Council’s eLearning system, which was developed in line with Skills for Care’s essential training during COVID-19 and with the involvement of their local Skills for Care representative. Once pre-employment checks and training have been completed, the candidates are added to a list shared with care providers who can then request interviews. By January 2021, 311 applicants had been received with 47 successfully gaining employment.
If you’re interested in finding out more about this initiative email Sarah Douglas, Project Manager – Supporting the Provider Market, Durham County Council.
One Walsall – leading the recruitment of volunteers during the pandemic
One Walsall, the community and voluntary service for Walsall Council, has been named as leading the recruitment of volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They've restructured their website to include information for those looking to register as volunteers (for example, online application forms detailing skills and roles preferred, etc.) and for charitable organisations offering COVID-19 specific support.
Working in partnership with the police has enabled One Walsall to securely and quickly process background checks for volunteers who didn't have a current (within three years) DBS check.
This allowed the production of ID badges for volunteers, which reassured members of the public and enabled safeguarding for any public-facing roles (including over-phone befriending). It also offered reassurance to health and care staff as many of the volunteers were deployed to support services with non-care frontline tasks, such as delivery drivers. The success of the One Walsall ID badges led to many organisations requesting such IDs.
Find out more
A campaign to grow bank staff pool in response to the pandemic - Optalis
Optalis provides adult social care on behalf of two councils, Wokingham and The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, and they launched a campaign to grow their bank staff pool in a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recruitment processes were reviewed and streamlined to ensure they were responsive and ready for the pressures of the pandemic.
Advertising: Optalis maximised their use of social media to reach a wide audience, as well as advertising free on both local authorities’ websites, generating over 190 applicants in total.
Pre-Screening: Optalis used staff from across their workforce to pre-screen all applicants by phone to assess their suitability. Application forms were submitted, and interviews scheduled within a week of the pre-screening.
Recruitment checks and training: Applicants attend a face-to-face interview and were informed if they were successful or not on the day. Successful applicants completed pre-employment checks day such as DBS and Health Check applications on the same day which went through the fast track process.
Once pre-employment checks were completed, applicants logged on and completed eLearning supplemented by a workbook. New starters attended two classroom based training sessions for ‘medication’ and ‘moving and assisting’ with our learning and development facilitators.
At this point, the new starters went live into service, completing shadow shifts and competencies in service. On average, this took around two and a half weeks.
Both bank and permanent staff have been virtually recruited via this process with applicants coming from a variety of sources including retired nurses, experienced carers, as well to those new to social care.
If you’re interested in finding out more about this initiative contact Amber Wickens, HR and Recruitment Advisor, Optalis.
New support assistant role - Fremantle Trust
Fremantle Trust launched a new support assistant role on 19 March 2020. The new role was created very quickly in response to the predicted impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on staffing levels in their services and an opportunity for people who had either lost jobs or faced significant uncertainty as a result of the crisis.
This flexible and diverse role ensured that support was in place in the event of staff absences, working alongside our existing teams and carers. Fremantle Trust successfully recruited 45 support assistants with a wide range of experience and skills, including furloughed staff from retail and hospitality, travel/tourism, the arts and self-employed individuals - many of whom hadn’t considered a role in adult social care previously.
All the successful applicants have a passion for working with people. Their successes have come from their people focus, empathy for those they are working with, communication skills and ability to manage difficult situations. Those previously employed in theatre have added vibrancy to activities within the services.
Fremantle Trust have found the new support assistants to be a fantastic addition to their teams, providing invaluable support during the challenging time of the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future.
If you’re interested in finding out more about this new please email Alex Jones, HR Business Partner, Fremantle Trust.
Recruiting volunteers - Coastal Homecare
Coastal Homecare (Hove) Limited is a small domiciliary care agency, which registered its interest to recruit volunteers with the National Care Force. A few weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers were matched and were offered either befriending roles for socially isolated people or administration tasks that could be carried out while observing social distancing.
The committed volunteers have helped with tasks that are appropriate to delegate; as a result, Coastal Homecare remains outward looking by welcoming people who have been furloughed, which enables staff more time to meet everyone’s individual needs.
To find out more email Neil Kentish, Area Manager, Coastal Homecare (Hove) Limited.
These are banks of staff or volunteers, employed or coordinated by the local authority, who can provide temporary cover. They can also be provided by other commissioning bodies.
This explores the redeployment of staff in existing care related roles, as well as staff from other local authority departments or functions.
Redeployment of council staff into adult social care roles - Leeds City Council
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Leeds County Council’s adult and health’s organisational development (OD) team worked with the council’s internal provider services to deploy staff to fill identified gaps in frontline adult social care services.
The process included the following stages:
- managers identified where they had capacity to release staff who could be relocated and the OD team worked across services to support transitioning staff
- staff members completed a skills questionnaire to enable matching with vacant roles
- relevant basic training, including health and safety, was provided
- individuals were given the opportunity to consider which roles they were interested in and then completed essential online training and were DBS checked
- the OD team reviewed working hours and pay grades to ensure best and agreeable matches, considering the location of individuals’ to avoid the need to use public transport in their redeployed roles
- tasks to be undertaken were discussed, e.g. whether providing personal care to vulnerable people was amenable.
Nine staff members were redeployed to deliver essential personal protective equipment to frontline workers, twice a week, using vans from internal fleet services.
The programme was successful in meeting its objectives and drawing together efficient and effective cross-directorate working to ensure seamless frontline service delivery under challenging conditions.
Looking beyond organisational boundaries - Surrey Choices
Surrey Choices is a local authority trading company owned by Surrey County Council who offer several disability services. During the pandemic they were still able to offer their Shared Lives Service, Respite service (at a reduced capacity) and Supported Employment Service but their day services across the county couldn’t continue to operate as usual. Alongside the support offered to people in their own homes, additional staff capacity was offered to other care providers who were experiencing staff shortages due to COVID-19.
To do this they had to look beyond their organisational boundaries. Sharing our workforce would normally call for contractual and formal arrangements, but recognising this was neither practical or responsive in the current situation, a short-term agreement was drawn up to support the best overall outcomes for vulnerable people in Surrey. Their staff are already well trained and DBS checked and were able to adapt their learning disability day service experience in a number of settings including learning disability supported living services and residential homes, but also support in older peoples' services, including both local authority and private providers, at no cost to the provider.
This initiative not only benefited the providers and their clients, but also our own staff were able to feel they contributed to the wider issues in the community.
I was so proud to be needed in elderly care services, our skills are transferable - I jumped at the chance to be redeployed. It was so heart-warming to be able to support people with dementia who really needed help - you get time to chat or hold their hands. My own self-esteem has been boosted considerably by being able to help”. Surrey Choices Activity Facilitator
If you’re interested in finding out more about this initiative email Chistina Earl, Head of Innovation and Business Development, Surrey Choices.
These are small teams working intensively with providers. They might undertake tasks that reduce the burden on providers capacity, deploy directly to deliver care or support providers to put contingency measures in place.
These initiatives support providers with direct recruitment, local authority recruitment or recruitment to staff banks – or a combination of all of these.
Proud to Care Devon – social media campaign for healthcare assistants
Proud to Care Devon is Devon's sustainability and transformation partnership’s (STP) health and recruitment campaign to combat high vacancy rates, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in urgent challenges across the sector.
A social media campaign was launched on 26 March 2020, just prior to the first #clapforourcarers. Initially, the campaign was due to conclude on 30 April 2020, but was extended until 30 June 2020 with a focus on permanent staff recruitment, mostly for the generic Healthcare Assistant role. The campaign included social media promotional activity, display advertising and radio. The lead message for the campaign was “Devon Needs You: You are the Solution”.
Since the campaign launch, over 2,000 initial registrations were received and over 200 Healthcare Assistant roles have been offered in health and social care.
Inspired to Care and county-wide recruitment activity - Leicestershire County Council
Inspired to Care, a service commissioned by Leicestershire County Council, is supporting the external market by attracting people into social care and relieving providers of the pressures of recruiting staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. The process has expanded to manage recruitment from candidate attraction to first day of work – this included a values-based interview process, free DBS’s and free rapid-induction programme.
A county-wide recruitment marketing campaign – “Keep Leicestershire Safe & Well at Home” – was launched to support the recruitment of care and support professionals during the pandemic. This included social media promotional activity and supermarket digital advertising. Inspired to Care is also working with community groups, partner organisations and educational establishments to optimise the reach of the campaign. Over 800 applications, CVs and enquiries were received.
The Inspired to Care website has also been updated with lots of information about the rewards of working in adult social care, the types of roles available and details of the campaign. In addition, various staff incentive schemes have been made available in order to boost recruitment, such as a refer a friend (an offer of £100 for existing staff and the person being referred if they complete three months of work).
Home First Team recruitment campaign, Derby City Council
The Home First team in Derby recruited 12 new support workers to assist new customers discharged from hospital for assessment at home, or in residential assessment hubs. They contribute the success of recruiting in unprecedented times to a few key factors:
The flexibility in contracts offering both set and zero-hour positions attracted a variety of candidates, some having previous care experience and others informal experience. The zero-hour contracts attracted a higher majority of applicants as many were wanting to just gain some experience and pick up occasional shifts.
The team ran a successful localised social media campaign using quotes from people that worked in the service including comments about training, team working, achievements, support, variety and customer satisfaction. They also held an interview to promote the vacancies, benefits and challenges of working in the care field on the local radio station.
If you’re interested in finding out more about this campaign email Sue Bliss, Service Manager Home First.
Greater Manchester local authorities’ campaign
A campaign was launched on 25 March to recruit to key worker roles within the Greater Manchester (GM) local authorities. The campaign has generated:
- over 18,000 advert views
- over 30,000 content page views
- over 900 application forms submitted
The campaign has been promoted on the greater.jobs social media channels, reaching up to 30,000 users.
If you’re interested in finding out more about this initiative and how it could support your recruitment email Catherine Pearson, GM Projects and Contracts Manager - People Services, Oldham Council.
Perthyn – general recruitment in Northamptonshire
Multiple approaches to recruitment have been adopted by Perthyn, a large not-for-profit provider of care and support services for people with a learning disability, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with interested individuals directly contacting the office to enquire about vacancies, recruitment websites, such as Indeed, have been used as a quick way of recruitment. Perthyn has also used its own website, Facebook and other online platforms, leading to great success in Northamptonshire. In addition, Perthyn is promoting and utilising its recommend a friend service.
Telephone or video interviews have been used with candidates, and Perthyn has found this saves time and effort, and in its experience, has had fewer no-shows than previous office-based interviews. Inductions are also conducted online, and eLearning is offered whilst recruitment checks are completed.
A mixture of candidates have been successful in their applications, including people with no previous social care experience, those who have experience working in the sector and some who have recently been furloughed.
To find out more contact David Rees, Recruitment Manager, Perthyn.
North West local authorities’ recruitment campaign
The North West local authorities’ recruitment campaign ran in partnership with the Greater Jobs platform. The campaign centred around a unique social media marketing campaign. All universities and colleges were also contacted about the campaign. It was a single platform to signpost applicants to job vacancies in the adult social care sector in the whole of the North West.
Through the campaign local authorities (LAs) were able to match demand with supply, with many of the LAs providing the training for the new recruits.
The campaign generated:
- over 9,000 advert views
- over 4,000 content page views
- over 500 applications.
If you’re interested in finding out more about this initiative and how it could support your recruitment contact Matthew Emerson
Recruiting throughout a pandemic - HFHC
HFHC have contributed forward planning and a dynamic structure to their recruitment success during the pandemic resulting in the highest number of new starters ever for HFHC in a two-month period.
A campaign was launched to target those that had no experience in care but had the right values to join HFHC. Videos featuring the homes, the individuals and staff were created by the marketing team for social media to encourage those without experience to consider the career change. These offered an insight into role and were brought up by candidates in interviews as the reason for them applying to HFHC over other services.
HFHC have reported:
We're already seeing success stories with candidates that are from a range of backgrounds, thriving in their role and ready to progress within the organisation’.
Temporary recruitment of social work students into ‘wellbeing worker’ role - Leeds City Council
Staff from Leeds City Council’s adults and health’s organisational development (OD) team devised an innovative plan to recruit final-year social work students with the relevant and desirable values and skills to become ‘wellbeing workers’ and support existing frontline work.
The recruitment process of social work students included the following:
- posts for the ‘wellbeing workers’ were advertised via universities
- the HR processes and procedures were reviewed and appropriately shortened to best enable an efficient recruitment process
- relevant university DBS paperwork and security processes were reviewed and found to comply with necessary Leeds City Council guidance
- recruitment interviews were adapted to ensure minimal contact, including
- following social distance guidelines
- screening against risk categories.
Ten applications were received and six final-year social work students were appointed as ‘wellbeing workers’ in May 2020.
The OD team is presently extending these temporary contracts and is offering new recruits the opportunity to apply for social work roles within Leeds City Council, following their graduation.
Heart of England Mencap
Heart of England Mencap support adults with learning disabilities in South Warwickshire and Worcestershire. They find recruitment for support workers very challenging, especially in Stratford upon Avon. During COVID-19 they thought this was going to be even more challenging, but by using a short, snappy advert and advertising through Indeed, they’ve recruited eight new support workers for their Supported Living Stratford Service, attracting staff from other sectors such as hospitality, teaching and the prison service, compared to two new recruits during the same period last year.
Here’s an example of their job advert:
Extraordinary Times call for Extraordinary People!
Heart of England Mencap urgently need Support Workers in Stratford upon Avon to support local people with learning disabilities.
Full Training, Flexible Hours and Competitive Pay
Join an amazing team and make a real difference in this unprecedented time. | Apply now to the HR Team!
Oxfordshire County Council recruitment initiative
Oxfordshire Association of Care Providers (OACP) recruitment initiative funded by Oxfordshire County Council focuses on supporting people from differing employment backgrounds to join the care sector.
A new job brokerage service for care providers recruiting in Oxfordshire has been launched. To source candidates, the service was promoted through social media advertising, press releases and local business networks, with support from Oxfordshire LEP. Interested candidates signed up via OACP’s jobs portal, then OACP team members screened the candidates on behalf of providers who have placed vacancies with the service. Candidates get referred to appropriate vacancies or signposted to other opportunities, for example becoming a personal assistant (PA). Candidates are then followed up one month later to track conversion rate of referrals.
In the first two months of the service, the team screened 120 candidates, matching 55 jobseekers to ‘live’ vacancies. Tracking data showed that 25% of candidates matched, started in the role they had been referred to, and a further 22% of candidates placed themselves into an alternative role in social care. Further matching support is offered to those candidates still seeking work in the care sector.
To learn more about this initiative contact Rose Rolle-Rowan - Corporate Services.
Cornwall County Council – Cornwall Needs You. Be Proud to Care
Proud to Care Cornwall, an initiative facilitated by Cornwall County Council and working in partnership with a range of social care providers and health colleagues, launched its campaign ‘Cornwall Need You. Be Proud to Care’ in response to COVID-19 to recruit a temporary workforce to support the sector during the pandemic.
Existing recruitment resources were adapted as part of the campaign, which was launched on 27 March 2020 with a range of activity, such as press releases and wider communications (films and photographs) and adverts on local radio, social media and bus stops. The campaign also included links to the national DHSC recruitment campaign, Every Day Makes a Difference. The Proud to Care Cornwall portal was used for applicants.
The campaign generated over 650 expressions of interest and 61 applications, all of which were screened and taken forward or signposted to other opportunities. 95 people were deployed across the system, and an additional 108 people confirmed their interest in longer-term roles in social care and recruiting into permanent roles in the next phase of work.
The recruitment into the temporary workforce was supported by a fast track induction developed with Cornwall Adult Health and Social Care Learning Partnership and local training providers and delivered via live webinars.
Town and Country Care motorway billboard recruitment campaign
Town and Country Care Offices in Boston used their position on a main dual carriageway to advertise for new support staff. The huge eye-catching advertising banner was modelled on the pink of the staff uniforms.
In the first five weeks they recruited eight new support staff into the organisation who are mainly people on furlough or have been made redundant due to the impact of the pandemic.
‘Proud to Care’ initiative, Gloucestershire
‘Proud to Care’ is Gloucestershire County Council’s recruitment and retention strategy for adult social care. The strategy is led by a multi-agency steering group including Gloucestershire Care Providers Association, providers, commissioners, DWP and the National Careers Service.
The fast track recruitment initiative focused on attracting new people into adult social care from other sectors (hospitality, retail and leisure) as well as attracting students and furloughed workers for temporary work. Candidates were attracted through a marketing campaign including radio, print, digital and social media advertising. Shortlisted candidates underwent virtual values-based interviews. Successful candidates are then matched with suitable employers based on preferences and values.
The initiative has three different packages so providers can choose what will best allow them to deploy new recruits within their organisation expediently. Elements of the different packages include; COVID-19 Fast Track DBS, recruitment checks and Skills for Care’s ‘Rapid Care Worker Induction’.
Since applications for the initiative started on 1 April, they have received over 60 applications. 25 of these candidates have been handed over to their new employers to deploy supporting adult social care providers in Gloucestershire to focus on delivering care to the individuals they support.
Development of new Associate Carer role - Exemplar Health Care
When the COVID-19 pandemic started, Exemplar Health Care created a new Associate Carer role, designed for those who work in other sectors or students, who might be looking for extra work during lockdown. The intention of the temporary role is to meet growing demand for the social care sector and those recruited will have the opportunity to move into permanent employment if they enjoy the role and there are vacancies available.
The recruitment drive since the pandemic has seen double the number of applications and offers of employment compared to the same period in 2019; the majority of these have been in the new temporary role. Two Facebook advertising campaigns occurred in addition to usual recruitment advertising. The recruitment process was fully implemented online and virtual inductions took place three times per week. Exemplar Health Care also introduced new eLearning modules to support new recruits and they were designated a ‘buddy’ to help them embed their skills and knowledge into practice, once they started working in homes.
In order to retain existing staff, a rewards and benefits package was introduced. Weekly updates were sent to all staff, signposting them to support available.
West Midlands and ADASS social care campaign
A three-strand recruitment campaign has been launched in 14 local authorities in the West Midlands to ensure social care providers have the capacity to meet to support those accessing care and support.
This activity has ranged from authorities redeploying internal employees into adult social care, recruiting professional social workers and utilising the support of students.
#ComeBackToCare - encourages professionals who have left the sector to return, either from working in another area or from retirement.
#StepUpNow – encourages final year students living in the West Midlands and studying social care.
#TimeToCare – Supports the independent care providers within the region.
The campaign generated over 100 applicants within the first two weeks, with the #ComeBacktoCare campaign being recognised by the LGA as an example of best practice in the sector.
Virtual Sector Based Work Academy – Southport
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Crosby training and Community Integrated Care formed a partnership to recruit candidates and provide learning via digital methods. The opportunity was communicated to all people registered with DWP in the Southport area, using DWP candidates journal messages.
Candidates were screened for previous experience, DBS and equipment needs by DWP. Crosby training screened candidates for their motivation and values; providing information and advice.
Zoom sessions were used to deliver learning to the candidates which covered safeguarding, mental health, basic food hygiene (without exam) and interview preparation. They used a mixture of taught content and completion of self-directed workbooks. The candidates were also provided with one-to-one action planning sessions which included getting them ready for interviews. Crosby training provided the necessary equipment to candidates who didn’t have their own, so they could complete the learning and interview.
Interviews were carried out via Zoom by the employer and they also provided a session about the work they do and the people they support.
The initiative has helped to reach a larger number of people by promoting directly via DWP journal messages to customers. All eight vacancies were filled.
If you’re interested in finding out more about this initiative email Jayne Ward, Employer Relationship Manager, DWP.
Sussex safe and timely onboarding social care workforce project
A project was launched to fast track people into employment across social care services, in a safe and timely way, to support services affected by workforce shortages as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an ongoing joint initiative led by Health Education England (HEE) South East – Kent, Surrey and Sussex, and Skills for Care.
As part of the project, links were made with the Prince’s Trust pre-employment programme to bring 10,000 young people (16-30 years old) into employment over the next three and a half years. Because of COVID-19, the programme has been adapted to an online approach, with career support, fast-track recruitment and relevant training and mentoring support being offered to the young people during the recruitment process and for a period of time once into employment.
This is an ongoing project and will continually be reviewed as it progresses. It's anticipated that the learning from this initiative will help inform the longer-term recruitment of people in social care employment locally, embedding and sustaining the successful elements of the project.
Recruitment of a self-managing team to support two young autistic people at home - BelleVie
BelleVie, a new start-up provider of care and support, currently operating in the Thames Valley area, recruited a self-managing team to support two young autistic people at home. The self-managing team recruited included one person with personal assistant (PA) experience and the rest from outside the sector – an ex police officer, a hospital administrator, a student in her final year and a mum returning to work.
BelleVie recruited the team who shared the same organisational values – showing compassion to provide the highest standards of person-centred support and the responsibility to make a success of self-management.
The recruitment process started prior to the COVID-19 pandemic - planning commenced in February 2019, the budget was approved in January 2020, with interviews taking place in early March and the team recruited just prior to lockdown. Not being deterred by the pandemic, a five-day induction on Zoom occurred and the team quickly excelled and established itself in its support role for Sam and Lucy.
I just want to let the team know how much they are appreciated. They’re working so hard to make my life as easy as possible, and everyone is going out of their way to be extra thoughtful – I really do feel incredibly supported and I trust completely that everything (and more) will be done. The kids are so happy and really love them all and they’re a joy to have in the house. Thank you!” (Tricia, foster Mum of Sam and Lucy). Mary Curran, Central Wellbeing Leader, BelleVie.
Leicester City Council Employment Hub
Leicester City focused on two areas: recruitment of volunteers (to support the existing workforce) and supporting new or returning people to find employment in the social care workforce through the Leicester City Council Employment Hub.
The joint initiative advertised for volunteers for their residential, domiciliary and supported living services. DBS checks were funded by the local authority and training was provided via Skills for Care endorsed providers as part of the essential training package defined by Skills for Care. Volunteers were given further information about the different settings; PPE; safeguarding and infection prevention control guidance. The employment hub monitored, maintained and oversaw the work and hours of the volunteers. Two volunteers recruited in this period made the decision to work in the adult social care sector and have applied for positions.
The employment hub also ran recruitment campaigns to target job vacancies. CVs were shared with care providers from the employment hub and through the Inspired to Care campaign.
To learn more about this initiative contact Ann Forde, Quality Assurance and Compliance Manager.
Hubs might provide a single point of contact for providers or coordination support with a combination of:
Key things to consider are how will you align the different parts of your support offer to make accessing support as easy as possible for providers?