March 20, 2024

Struggling from a lack of staff?

Table of contents

The scarcity of care professionals can be a persistent challenge for homecare businesses in the UK. Finding and retaining dedicated care staff is crucial to maintaining the high standards of care that your care recipients deserve. As an owner or registered manager of an SME domiciliary care business, you might be facing this staffing dilemma. However, there is hope!

This article is here to guide you through five essential strategies to overcome the staffing crisis and breathe new life into your business.

Improve staff recruitment and retention strategies

Recruiting the right care professionals and keeping them on board is the bedrock of success in domiciliary care. Care staff turnover can disrupt your clients' routines and affect the quality of care provided. To address this issue, start by honing your recruitment process.

Begin with a thorough screening of candidates, assessing their qualifications, experience, and commitment to the job. For instance, you might consider requiring certifications such as the Care Certificate, which ensures that care professionals possess the necessary knowledge and skills to be a care professional (1).

During the interview process, emphasise the importance of compassionate care. Ask candidates to provide examples of situations where they demonstrated empathy and a genuine commitment to their care recipients' well-being.

Actionable Takeaway:

  • Start by reviewing your recruitment process. Ensure that it effectively identifies candidates who are not only qualified but also committed to delivering compassionate personalised care.

According to Skills for Care,

"investing in staff development and offering competitive pay and benefits are essential for retaining care workers in the long term."(2)

Therefore, offering competitive salaries and benefits is crucial to attracting and retaining talent.

Next, create an appealing job description highlighting the significance of the care professional's role within your organisation. Share your openings on social media platforms and local job boards to cast a wide net. Consider offering referral bonuses to your existing staff members for bringing in new talent.

Enhance employee skills through training programmes

Continuous training and development are essential in domiciliary care to meet the evolving needs of care recipients. Regular training ensures that care professionals possess the latest skills and knowledge required to provide top-notch care.

To start, develop a comprehensive training programme that covers essential topics, such as communication, medication management, and handling medical emergencies. Utilise both in-person and online training resources, enabling care professionals to access materials conveniently at a time when suits them.

For instance, you can use online modules or resources from organisations like the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), which provides free e-learning courses and resources tailored to the UK domiciliary care sector (3).

Actionable Takeaway:

  • Commit to creating a structured training program that addresses the specific needs of your care professionals. Allocate dedicated time for training sessions, and make use of online learning platforms for flexibility.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) emphasises that

"regular training and supervision are key to ensuring that your staff provide safe and effective care."(4)

Therefore, invest in regular training sessions and ensure that your care professionals have access to resources that enhance their skills.

Remember, investing in your employees' skills not only enhances the quality of care but also boosts their job satisfaction, reducing turnover rates.

Streamline operations with care scheduling software

Efficient scheduling and staff allocation are critical components of a successful domiciliary care business. Manual scheduling can be cumbersome and error-prone, leading to staffing gaps and client dissatisfaction.

Consider embracing digital tools such as care scheduling software to streamline your operations. These platforms allow you to create efficient schedules, manage staff availability, and respond quickly to unexpected changes. By optimising your scheduling, you can make the most of your existing staff and minimise scheduling conflicts.

For example, solutions like Birdie or Pass are specifically designed for domiciliary care businesses in the UK. They offer features like automated scheduling, real-time updates, and the ability to track staff availability and client needs.

Actionable Takeaway:

  • Research and implement care scheduling software tailored to your business needs. This investment will help you maintain a stable staff roster and ensure that care recipients receive consistent support.
  • We’ve compiled a list of the best digital solutions in homecare today, take a look here!

The UK Home Care Association recommends using digital tools to "minimise scheduling errors and ensure adequate staff coverage."(7) These tools not only enhance efficiency but also reduce the administrative burden on your staff.

Additionally, consider involving care professionals in the scheduling process, allowing them to input their preferences and availability, which can enhance their job satisfaction and work-life balance.

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Sara from Newcross Healthcare Solutions sat down with the team at Birdie to discuss just how game-changing the Birdie Message Centre truly is. Find out how Newcross communicates effectively without emails and WhatsApp:

Expanding your service portfolio to attract more staff

Diversifying your service offerings within the domiciliary care sector can be a game-changer when it comes to attracting and retaining staff. By expanding your scope, you open up new opportunities for care professionals and provide them with options that align with their skills and preferences.

One strategic approach is to explore services like live-in care or care homes, in addition to traditional homecare. Live-in care, for example, allows care professionals to provide continuous support to clients in a homely environment, often on a rotating schedule. Care homes offer a more structured, communal living arrangement for care recipients. By incorporating these services, you create additional roles within your organisation, appealing to a broader range of care professionals.

Actionable Takeaway:

  • Assess the demand: Research the local demand for live-in care or care home services in your area. This can involve conducting surveys, analysing demographic data, and consulting with local health authorities.
  • Identify staff upskilling opportunities: Determine which of your current care professionals might be interested in transitioning to live-in care or care home roles. Offer training and support to help them acquire the necessary skills and certifications.
  • Hiring for new roles: If necessary, hire staff specifically for live-in care or care home positions. Seek individuals with relevant experience and a passion for the specific type of care they will be providing.

By broadening your service offerings, you not only enhance your ability to attract staff but also provide more comprehensive care options to your clients, further solidifying your position in the domiciliary care sector.

Foster collaborative relationships in the community

Building strong community partnerships can be a valuable resource for your domiciliary care business. Collaborating with local organisations, hospitals, and schools can help you tap into additional resources and potential staff.

Start by identifying potential partners in your community who share your commitment to providing excellent care. Reach out to them and initiate discussions on how you can work together to address staffing challenges. Community partnerships can lead to referrals, shared training resources, and even joint recruitment efforts.

For example, partnering with a local hospital can provide you with access to a pool of trained healthcare professionals who may be interested in part-time or flexible work with your domiciliary care business. Additionally, collaborating with local schools that offer healthcare training programs can be an excellent source of future care professionals.

Actionable Takeaway:

  • Actively seek out and engage with potential community partners. Attend networking events and build relationships within your community can be a powerful way to address staffing shortages.

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) suggests that "collaboration with other care providers and organisations can help share resources and recruit staff."(11) By collaborating with local institutions and healthcare providers, you can create a network of support that benefits both your business and the community you serve.

As you establish these partnerships, explore joint marketing efforts, co-hosted training sessions, and shared job fairs to attract more care professionals to your team.

Read also - What you risk in poor retention: Nurturing domiciliary care excellence

The shortage of care professionals in the domiciliary care industry is indeed a challenge, but it's one that can be overcome with strategic actions. Improving recruitment and retention strategies, enhancing employee skills through training, embracing digital tools, and fostering community partnerships are all essential steps towards revitalising your business. Remember, by investing in your staff and exploring innovative solutions, you can provide better care, improve your business's sustainability, and ultimately create a positive impact on the lives of care recipients.

Now, take the first step in addressing your staffing challenges. Review your current recruitment process and explore the potential of telehealth services. By embracing these strategies, you can ensure that your domiciliary care business thrives in the face of staffing shortages, providing the care and support your clients truly deserve.

Footnotes

  1. Gov.uk. (n.d.). The Care Certificate. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-care-certificate
  2. Skills for Care. (n.d.). Recruiting and retaining staff. https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/adult-social-care-workforce-data/Workforce-intelligence/publications/recruitment-and-retention.aspx
  3. Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). (n.d.). e-Learning for health and care. https://www.scie.org.uk/care-providers/partnerships/collaborative-working
  4. Care Quality Commission (CQC). (n.d.). Recruitment and retention in adult social care: key lines of enquiry for inspecting service providers. https://www.cqc.org.uk/guidance-providers/adult-social-care/recruitment-retention-adult-social-care/recruitment-retention-adult-social-care-key-lines-enquiry
  5. CarePlanner. (n.d.). Domiciliary Care Software. https://www.care-planner.co.uk/
  6. PeoplePlanner. (n.d.). Domiciliary Care Software. https://www.peopleplanner.biz/
  7. UK Home Care Association. (n.d.). Workforce. https://www.ukhca.co.uk/ourwork/workforce.aspx
  8. Cura Systems. (n.d.). Cura's Telehealth Module. https://www.curasystems.com/cura-telehealth
  9. MyLiferaft. (n.d.). Telehealth & Remote Monitoring. https://myliferaft.com/telehealth-remote-monitoring/
  10. NHS. (n.d.). Telehealth. https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/telehealth/
  11. Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). (n.d.). Collaborative working. https://www.scie.org.uk/care-providers/partnerships/collaborative-working

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