Train to retain: why you need to keep on developing your care staff

This blog from Home Instead’s managing director Martin Jones has appeared in February’s Tomorrow’s Care.

Smiling Home Instead CAREgiver

“High quality care workers are hard to find, and the shortfall in the adult social care workforce has never been more firmly in the spotlight than now.

The latest statistics from the National Audit Office (NAO) – hot off the press in February – make for tough reading. Of the estimated 1.34 million jobs in the adult social care sector in England, it reports a vacancy rate in 2016-17 of 6.6% (more than twice the national average).

That’s almost 90,000 empty roles.

It is concerning to note that the turnover rate of care staff has been increasing and in 2016-17 reached 27.8%. 

And we all know that growing demand for care means we need to increase our workforce significantly in the coming years.

What can we do about it? One of the biggest challenges we face is how to change poor perceptions of working in care. Aside from the fundamentals of offering good pay and conditions, it is vital that we demonstrate a serious commitment to the training and development of our workforce.

Industry body Skills for Care highlights developing talent and skills as one of four ‘secrets to success’ in a recent report on social care employers with low staff turnover rates. The NAO says that enhanced training and career development will make care a more attractive place to work.

I can absolutely endorse this from my own experience; investing in training and developing of your people delivers important business benefits, not least ensuring that those precious care workers are encouraged to stay with you for the long-term. And let’s face it, the challenge we face is a dual one – to recruit and retain the workforce that we need.

Within my own organisation, the training and development of our CAREGivers is regarded as

Home Instead team member holding a mug

business-critical. In the first instance, our CAREGivers undergo thorough induction training to prepare them for such sensitive roles.

Each one has a Personal Development Plan and we actively support them to continue to learn and develop – with opportunities to undertake further care qualifications such as  a diploma in Health and Social Care alongside regular training updates. We regard this as part of improving the professional status of care – showing both current and potential caregivers that care can indeed be a career in the fullest sense, with opportunities to learn and develop and to progress forward. Many of our CAREGivers develop and take on wider roles within their local offices, some progressing to become Care Managers.

In addition to core skills training and external qualifications, we have gone a step further at Home Instead and developed bespoke training programmes to meet specific needs. The first of these was our own City & Guilds qualification in dementia care, devised with international experts. Launched in 2012, this has been completed by over 4,000 CAREGivers to date – giving them a detailed understanding of this specialist area of care.

For 2018, we are launching a brand new bespoke training programme in end-of-life care; this has also been accredited by City & Guilds. The new programme was introduced in response to demand from our CAREGivers and our wider network. As more and more clients come to us for end-of-life and palliative care, we want to support our CAREGivers by giving them both the practical and the emotional skills to cope with this sensitive area of work. The training will also improve the quality of the care they provide.

What difference has all of this made to our business? In our latest independent survey of more than 5,000 of our CAREGivers, 95% said they were proud to work for us and 92% felt motivated to go above and beyond in their work.

Those are very strong indicators of an engaged and motivated workforce, and I firmly believe that our commitment to training and development is a key factor in this.”