Insight into the growing concerns in the UK's aged care sector and how to combat the challenges that may arise
Xref works with a number of care sector organisations globally and each industry and region has its own hiring challenges. UK aged care is no exception.
After reading a number of reports and articles, and considering the current situation those trying to fill aged care roles face, I was compelled to share my findings and discuss some ways I feel aged care providers could combat hiring challenges, in spite of major market hurdles.
What are the market challenges?
The Office of National Statistics predicts that the number of people in the UK aged 85 and over will double in the next 25 years.
Meanwhile, according to Care England, there are already more than 400,000 people aged over 65 living in a care home across the UK and demand for places has been predicted to rise by up to 150% over the next 50 years.
More than 100 UK care home operators ceased to exist in 2018, with more than 400 in total collapsing over five years. This not only adds to concerns around meeting future demand but also raises the issue of the reallocation of those housed in the homes that close down, many of whom are left with nowhere to go other than hospitals.
But aside from funding issues that are leading to a lack of support for homes as a whole, the UK is experiencing a crisis when it comes to staffing the care homes that remain open.
Current hiring conditions are making it increasingly unlikely that the industry will be able to meet growing aged care demands and there are a number of reasons why.
What are the main hiring issues in the current market?
1. Budget constraints
A lack of funding available to improve the services aged care providers offer is putting pressure on recruitment teams to find good talent. A poor minimum wage is making attracting and retaining staff from the UK increasingly difficult and, as such, hiring decisions are being made for these positions of trust that, in the best cases, will lead to a poor level of service and, in the worst cases, could result in misconduct and abusive behaviour.
2. Uncertainty around employment
Current concerns around a post-Brexit Britain exacerbate the issue since decisions about the acceptance of European care workers into the UK is likely to have a major impact on whether or not the system survives.
The UK’s adult social care workforce is currently short of 90,000 staff and the think tank, Global Future, predicts England will have a shortfall of 380,000 workers by 2026 unless low-skilled roles can be filled with overseas talent. But current government Brexit plans would not support this.
3. A lack of training
A lack of skilled doctors is also a concern as, without geriatric specialists in the community, more older people are being admitted to hospital and there is already a major shortage of the required skills in those stretched facilities.
An increase in specialist geriatric training is required to ensure the UK care system is able to keep up with the demands of an aging population with a broadening spectrum of needs.
How can aged care recruitment improve?
The Government has committed to a recruitment drive for the aged care sector. But aside from government-supported efforts, remaining aged care homes can improve their own hiring efforts with a smarter approach to the way they source and retain skilled and reliable staff.
Using technology, aged care service providers can not only find and attract the best talent but also quickly do their due diligence on every candidate and make confident hires based on evidence that they have the skills and experience required to offer the best service to those in their care.
Three ways technology can help to improve aged care recruitment
1. Challenge perceptions
Technology can be used to improve a facility’s employer brand and attract new talent. Overcoming negative perceptions requires an organisation to first identify how they would prefer to be seen. Video is a great medium for demonstrating the real culture of an organisation during recruitment and can go a long way to capture the working lives of an aged care provider with more accurate and engaging outcomes than written content.
2. Reach untapped resources
With limited options available, it’s important to look beyond competing for just those who are actively applying for roles, and find ways to get in front of talent that is either not currently looking or may even be in a different industry but have the transferable skills suited to aged care. Social media platforms, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, are valuable tools for getting in front of specific audiences with your recruitment message, even if they haven’t heard of your organisation before.
3. Efficient hiring
When competition for talent is high, it’s important to be able to move through the recruitment process quickly and confidently. Recruitment software like Xref is built to ensure employers are doing their due diligence on new hires - critical in an industry like aged care - without delaying the process and leaving them at risk of missing out on great talent.
Good aged care recruitment is as challenging as it is critical and, with current market conditions adding to the difficulty of finding the right people for these vital positions of trust, providers have to look beyond traditional methods to ensure they are able to attract the volume and standard of talent required.