Event Report by Paul O'Reilly (Workforce Development Consultant)

On March 15th 2018, Scottish Care launched its report into recruitment, retention, regulation and representation within social care to over 100 attendees – including frontline workers, managers, owners, regulators and government representatives -  at the Glasgow Hilton Hotel.

Katharine Ross, National Workforce Lead for Scottish Care, opened the day highlighting that the report identifies many concerning trends and advising delegates that the programme would be underpinned by a fifth ‘R’ - reality.

Scottish Care’s Policy and Research Manager, and the report’s author, Becca Gatherum next took to the podium.

In launching her report Becca described the research process, explaining that the purpose of the report was to capture the journey that an employee in the independent social care sector travels along from initial engagement to disengaging.  While the journey is of varied distance for individuals, this workshop would seek to follow it by exploring the 4R themes in order – recruitment, representation, regulation, and finally retention.

Recruitment: Attracting the right people for your organisation

Katharine again took to the stage, alongside colleague Paul O’Reilly, to discuss the recruitment findings published in the report.

Along with statistics highlighting that the majority of job applicants are female (84%) and that there has been an increase in the number of applicants aged over 45years (20%), it was noted that 63% of new entrants are leaving their positions within the first six months.

The need to increase the number of younger people and male applicants was covered, before exploration of why so many people are leaving their jobs so soon.

In a session called Right person...Right job? delegates were asked to consider if we are being up-front with candidates about the challenges of the role, and what more can be done to inform people at interview stage before they accept a role as well as through induction to better support and prepare new colleagues.

This generated many interesting and creative ideas from delegates, while the fifth ‘R’ was present in recognising the challenges.

Representation: Understanding the process - and your rights

 Katharine next introduced two speakers -  Grant Brown, Fitness to Practise Manager at SSSC, and Richard Henderson, an Advocate from the Faculty of Advocates.

Grant explained what is meant by ‘fitness to practise’ and where it fits within the Strategic Plan of SSSC, linking to the Codes of Practice.  Following advice on just when someone should refer a practitioner to the Fitness to Practise team, Grant bust some myths by carrying out an exercise with some True or False statements.

Representation at hearings was explored by Richard, with him explaining the process and what to expect.  This included some background information and terminology, who sits on a panel and what they can decide, and who can represent a worker should they be called before it. 

Regulation: Exploring the reality and potential of working in a regulated social care sector

Ann McSorley, Qualifications & Standards Manager at SSSC, was introduced to discuss regulation and registration of the social care workforce.

Ann explained how qualifications have developed, qualification requirements and how Modern Apprenticeships are a useful tool in achieving these before sharing links to useful recruitment and learning & development resources.

There then followed what for many was the highlight of the day – a panel discussion with three frontline workers, led by Katharine.

Pauline Cumming (Activities Coordinator with Balhousie Care), Dean McMillan (Quality Officer and Supervisor with Carewatch) and Joanne Bilsland (Support Supervisor with Bluebird Care) discussed their individual career journey, their thoughts on SVQ, what needs to change for frontline workers if a career in care is to be more widely viewed as a positive career choice and what they love about their job.

The compassion of the panel, as well as their passion for the work and those they care for, was well received by the room. 

Joanne had the final word on what she loves about her job, saying ‘I get to learn more about Life by providing End of Life care.  I get to see humanity at its best, I get to witness touching family moments.  I get to hold people up when they are struggling to live with their health conditions and I get to hold their hands when they are frightened and alone.  I'm helping people to cope with very challenging circumstances and that gives me a huge amount of satisfaction.’

Retention: Retaining a skilled and compassionate workforce

The final session of the day was led by Scottish Care CEO Dr. Donald Macaskill.

Donald explained that we cannot stop employees from leaving until we have a plan to make them stay before asking delegates to spend some time thinking about their current role and what makes them stay, as well as a job that they may have left and the reasons for this.

A series of slides exploring employee satisfaction within social care were presented, with Donald closing by explaining that other sectors have learned to improve this by ensuring frontline staff wellbeing, engagement, empowerment and hearing of their voice. 

Social care must do likewise.

Paul O'Reilly

Scottish Care, Workforce Development Consultant.