Skills for Care

Interview: how we provide a flexible approach to inducting new staff

16 Aug 2022

5 min read

Skills for Care

  • Culture and diversity
  • Recruitment
  • Retention

Julia Moor is the Quality and Compliance Manager for Harrogate Skills for Living. She talks to us about the organisation’s flexible approach to induction.

Tell us a bit more about yourself

I’m the Quality and Compliance Manager for Harrogate Skills for Living which operates a number of services including two learning disability residential homes, a day service, a café and a chocolate making enterprise. I support the home managers and their teams in a variety of ways, particularly with recruitment and retention.


Harrogate Skills for Living offers a very flexible induction approach, tell us more about that

We had a remarkably good success story three years ago, which we're trying to build on. We were contacted by a young man (J) with a minor learning disability to enquire about working with us. He hadn’t worked in care before but had been told he had a caring attitude and the right values to work as a carer. As soon as we spoke with him, we definitely saw this too though we worried whether starting him into a full-time care role may be a bit too overwhelming initially. We wanted to take it slowly and flexibly to allow both him and us to discover if the role was well-suited for him. We have several elements to our organisation which allowed us to look at the situation flexibly.

J started off as a volunteer in our Day Service for about three months, it was really apparent he had the most wonderful way with the people we support, and he really wanted to take that side of the role further and take it on as a paid job. For a number of reasons, he was quite anxious to start on a full-time contract immediately, so we agreed a minimum four hours a week contract to start off with. He did that for another three months and did really well, that time really built his confidence and allowed us to identify and provide support in the areas where he needed it most, which was primarily with his written communication.

He sailed through four hours a week, with lots of extra support and encouragement from the manager ; Jan Wright. For the first two months he would have time with the manager at the start and end of every shift, she made it clear that no question was a “stupid question” and she made sure he received positive feedback every shift to build his confidence. It was clear this time investment was required at the start of his career and the slower start allowed Jan the time to offer this high level input and reassurance.

Beyond that we also supported him with the basic training he needed to take on more hours, and ensured this was in a format that suited his learning style. Over the following 9 months, J’s hours were built up to full time and he was able to finally come off all state benefits which was another huge boost to his confidence.

The whole process from start to finish took about 14 months to go from volunteering to a full-time contract, but now he's been with us three years on a full-time contract, and he’s one of our exemplary staff members.

We’ve now adopted a similar approach particularly when recruiting younger people, to help embed them into full-time work and decide whether a care role is right for them. We have a very young new staff member who’s joined us in recent weeks, and we’re starting her at just 10 hours each week and will then gradually build it up. She’s new to the world of work and to care and wants to take time to try it to see if it’s right for her, and we’re providing lots of in-office induction during that time as well as opportunities to shadow other staff.

The plan is after six weeks we can sit down and decide if she wants to increase her hours and what the next steps are.


And what’s the standard process for the induction of new staff?

I think it's really important to make sure staff are supernumerary for as long as they need to be, and that's not the same for everybody. Someone who's an experienced carer might only need to do it for seven to 10 days, while someone who's never worked in care before might need to do that for at least two weeks to feel confident. There may be some care tasks that new starters need to shadow repeatedly until they feel fully confident.

The Home Manager Jan takes a very person-centred approach, not just to the people we support but to our staff too. We make sure that every new starter has a named mentor to be their go-to support for any queries, and we also make sure that on the very first day that someone is starting we’re over-resourced, so that everybody has time to make them feel welcome, to have conversations and offer support. For the first few weeks we also consider who is else is on shift with our new starters and aim to have them working with like-minded people they can get to know and form a bond with, for example if it’s a younger person we might put them on with other younger members of the team.

Myself and the home manager will have a welcome interview with each new member of staff, and we’ll work though an induction file with them over the course of the induction process to allow us to keep checking in on how things are going and where more support and learning is needed.

Those first few weeks are fragile as new staff form opinions on whether they’re suited to the environment, if people don't feel they've had enough time and input, then they’ll feel wobbly.

Values based advertising, interviewing and assessments using the Skills for Care toolkit are also part of this recruitment process. Core personal values that align with our own are always more important to us than experience. For the last three years HS4LC has been working hard to make sure all our staff know our identified values and the behaviours we expect to see that underpin them.


What would be your number one tip for other providers to provide an effective induction?

Investment at the start, in both time and staff available to support new members of the team on their first day and in the first few weeks. Don’t expect your new staff to be able to jump straight in and pick up lots of tasks, allow them to be able to shadow other colleagues and learn and build confidence first.


Find more recruitment and retention information with our #BuildingYourWorkforce spotlight.


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