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Recruiting the best in social care

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By Kim Corsini, Head of Resourcing

A recent poll of CEOs in the care sector identified staffing as the single biggest issue facing providers at present – recruitment, and retention, of the right sort of staff to deliver the personalised, consistent support we all aspire to.

For some providers, staff recruitment is nothing less than an existential threat. For all, including Dimensions, it’s a high pressure priority.

In this blog I’ll take a look at modern alternatives to traditional approaches to recruitment. Dimensions doesn’t pretend to have all the answers (our vacancies nationwide are testament to that) but we are keen to experiment, to test and learn.

Firstly, there are some issues over which we have limited control. For example, it’s taking the Met Police six months to process a DBS check. Anyone who has lived in London at any point in the past ten years is therefore likely to have to wait a long time before they can join us.

How many candidates are prepared to wait that long to start a job?  Would you? In order to retain candidates affected by this, we opt, where safe to do so, to engage people on ISA Firsts using this time to induct, train and shadow.

I would like to see the heat being turned up much more highly on bureaucracies that act as a block to delivering good, timely support.

Dimensions is very proud of its values-based recruitment (VBR) approach – and rightly so! It means we recruit people based on their values rather than their experience. This has helped us recruit a lot of fantastic support workers who might otherwise have been overlooked.

Alongside values, matching staff to people is our main priority. This makes our job harder at first, but matching the right person to the right staff member has invaluable long term benefits in terms of quality and consistency of support. We’re totally committed to the twin approaches of matching and values-based recruitment approach.

But these approaches are well established. Most good providers operate them. What’s next? What have we tried?

Activate

Activate is Dimensions new support model. In research, adoption of this approach to support saw challenging behaviour tumble by 60% and staff satisfaction rise markedly. As a support worker, this makes a real, daily difference.Dimensions is the only employer who can point to these impacts.

Career progression

We are sharing real stories of staff that joined us as support workers and have progressed through various roles. We have locality managers, operations directors, performance coaches and regional directors who originally joined us as support workers.

Our CEO was a nurse. Our ASPIRE career development program ensures talented staff progress within the company. If you want to progress, and have the talent and commitment, Dimensions really can make it happen.

Auditions

Auditions – we call them interaction-observation assessments – now offer an alternative to traditional interviews. Many people do not shine in a traditional CV and interview approach, but by watching them work we can see what a fantastic support worker they could be.

We have a wide range of activities involving the people we support and family members that really allow peoples personalities and values to shine, and which allow the matching process to become easy for both parties.

Guaranteed interviews

We hold regular events across the country guaranteeing an interview to any candidate who expresses an interest.

Managers, support workers, people we support and families are there on the day to give candidates a full overview of Dimensions, the training, support and induction programmes we provide, what our values are and what the role of a support worker includes.

Of course support is individual to the people being supported, so each support worker role varies and no two days are every the same. Candidates have the opportunity to ask any questions they want, either in a group or one-to-one basis.

They are then interviewed on the day and are then matched and invited to meet with the people they would be supporting.  We appoint some great staff from these events who perhaps would not have been confident enough to apply via application form.

Creative contracts

Not everybody can commit to a flexible working rota and we do not want to miss out on a great candidate, so we work with them during the recruitment process to understand the hours and patterns they can work.

We then agree mutually beneficial contract terms such as permanent, part time, relief, annualised and fixed hours.  We want our staff to give the best in their job, so that means they need to have a work life balance.

Skills Assessments

We test on numeracy and literacy skills at functional skills level 1. But we found great candidates who did not always achieve the pass mark.

As values and matching are our priorities, we have introduced a support tool which allows candidates to reach the required levels during their probation period.

Streamlined application process

We have recently introduced a solely values based first stage assessment, no CV or application form required. We only want to know if people meet our values. This has resulted in a significant leap in applications.

Local specialists

Recruiting the right staff in London is a very different from the New Forest. In fact, we find that local factors – employment, population structure, support organisations and networks – have a major influence on recruitment success.

Dimensions has a number of Internal Resourcing Consultants dispersed across our regions who run local events, develop third party relationships, conduct values based telephone interviews and target passive candidates.

If you’ve got this far, well done. I hope you have found a few ideas to help you in your own recruitment challenges. And why not share some of your own successes with me by emailing kim.corsinie@dimensions-uk.org – I’d love to hear your thoughts.