How we compete for the best staff

Recruitment Partner Sally Lucas is looking at new ways of advertising and attracting candidates HR Director Andrew Arkinstall: ‘We currently invest around half a million pounds a year in staff training.’

Just the job – how we compete for the cream of the crop

How does a relatively small, family-owned care home provider compete with much bigger operators to find and keep the best staff in what is a very competitive marketplace?

The question is top of the agenda for our Human Resources team. We asked our HR Director Andrew Arkinstall and first ever Recruitment Partner Sally Lucas to tell us what Colten Care does to support individual homes through recruitment and staff development.

“My role has a particular emphasis on clinical roles, so nurses and Heads of Care,” says Sally. “I’m here to support and co-ordinate the whole recruitment process and develop consistencies across the group. That means everything from applications and how we manage CVs through to interviews and employment offers. I’m looking at new ways of advertising and attracting candidates.”

spotlightTo raise awareness of what we can offer as an employer to potential recruits, Sally pointed to a range of activities. For example, we hold recruitment open days at homes that have a specific need for nursing or other healthcare assistance. The requirement could vary and involve weekends, specific shift patterns, full and part time, and so on.

Open days are typically promoted through banners outside homes and advertising in local newspapers. Interested candidates simply walk in without having to make an appointment. They can meet members of our HR team, take a tour of the home, and learn about available roles. Recent open days have been held at homes including St Catherines View in Winchester, Brook View in West Moors and Fernhill in Longham. These three events alone attracted 46 visitors, many of whom have now applied for jobs with us.

Sally adds: “Recruitment can become a reactive activity where you only respond to a need when a vacancy comes up. It’s far better to take a proactive approach and continually reach out to find the best candidates.”

Andrew-Arkinstall3How then do we retain and develop people once they are in post? Andrew says: “In our recruitment literature, we highlight the competitive rates of pay we offer coupled with career progression opportunities. We currently invest around half a million pounds in staff training every year. That helps us to support people’s career development. In partnership with Bournemouth University, for example, we have developed a bespoke dementia training course designed to educate staff to better understand what dementia is and how it impacts on the person living with it and their family. Also through our links with Bournemouth University, we have many student nurses working across our homes. This is a win-win relationship. The students receive essential work experience while bringing fresh, current thinking. The result is a stronger all-round team focused on best practice in nursing.”

All new recruits to Colten Care receive a detailed induction on day one followed by on-the-job training in all aspects of their role to guide them through the first three months. Regular training continues tied to an annual appraisal.

Andrew says: “We want all our team members to develop their careers. As well as promotion to more senior positions, there are many ways to move across into different job roles in other areas of the business. Another way is through our in-house apprenticeship scheme. Where appropriate, this enables you to learn while you earn and gain a recognised qualification from a local college.  When you have completed the programme, we continue to support you through the next steps in your career.”

Some ways we recruit and retain:

  • Using CV databases to search proactively for candidates.
  • Company-wide recruitment management system that quickly and efficiently helps us access a pool of candidates for vacancies as they arise.
  • Strengthening relationships with colleges and universities so we can engage candidates earlier in their careers and discuss professional development.
  • Resources and information on a new recruitment website we are currently developing.
  • Building our new Promise and Values into our recruitment literature so people understand our way of working and our focus on the individual.

Around £0.5 million invested annually in ongoing training initiatives. These include customer care training, an in-house apprenticeship scheme, and dementia awareness training.

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