Healthcare assistants do a vitally important job, and since the beginning of the pandemic the value that these individuals bring to care settings has only been further highlighted. Those who choose to pursue a career as a care home HCA do it, primarily, for the love of the job. They also enjoy the benefit of flexible hours to fit around other commitments and caring responsibilities, while getting the chance to really make a difference – and in recent months many are finding that their skills are in demand like never before.
According to the latest annual UK Care Homes Trading Performance Review report from Knight Frank, staffing remains a major challenge for care home providers across the country, with the pandemic only putting added pressure on operators to fill gaps while team members isolate. The study found that for every nursing home resident in the UK, 0.85 full time nurses or carers are employed, with as much as 61.3% of providers’ income spent on staffing during the second quarter of last year.
Against this backdrop, for those looking to find healthcare assistant jobs in a care home setting, there are unsurprisingly lots of opportunities available. However, even for those seeking temporary roles, picking the right employer – and a recruiter that can guide you to find the best positions – is key.
As every experienced HCA knows, working compliantly is crucial. With this in mind, choosing recruiters and employers with a reputation for demonstrating best practice is important if you are to operate in a safe environment and mitigate against both organisational and personal risk. Everyone working in the setting should be adequately trained, correctly screened and receive ongoing support to keep their skills up to date in line with changes in legislation.
Care Quality Commission (CQC) guidance states that providers must provide sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, competent, skilled and experienced staff to meet the needs of the people using the service at all times. Staffing levels and skill mix must also be reviewed continuously and adapted to respond to the changing needs and circumstances of people using the service. When scoping out potential employers, don’t be afraid to ask about organisational structure, CPD policy and resident to staff ratios to determine how seriously the home takes its obligations.
In addition to ensuring you are entering a workplace that is technically compliant, it is also important to choose jobs where there is a good cultural fit. Even if you are only planning to be with the care home for a short time, it is preferable to work with likeminded people with similar values, drivers and work ethic.
There is no mistaking the immense value that temporary workers bring to care settings: they deftly pick up extra workload when demand is high; enable care providers to consistently deliver a great service regardless of external factors; and bring fresh ideas and perspective to the team.
However, a great work environment thrives on a healthy mix of both temporary and permanent employees. There is a need for a strong backbone of long-term team members who can support new recruits with things like locating stock and navigating systems, so that all incoming HCAs can begin delivering the care that residents expect and deserve from day one. When a home is staffed almost entirely by temps, it can create a chaotic and inefficient working environment – and it is also a red flag that the employer, for whatever reason, struggles to hold on to its staff.
A well-run home can be identified not only through its CQC rating, but also its reputation in the local area and levels of satisfaction among residents and their families. Conversely, homes which struggle to fill both rooms and job vacancies should perhaps be avoided. A good recruiter, which specialises in the care home sector, will be able to advise on which homes provide both a high level of care and a great working environment with low churn of full-time employees.
The current lack of healthcare assistants has created an environment where job opportunities are abundant – and there are concerns among care home leaders that staff shortages are only set to worsen once it becomes mandatory for all staff working in care homes to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus later this year. However, while there are many organisations with HCA jobs on offer, choosing which recruiter to use to find your next roles is crucial. According to the CQC, providers must have effective recruitment and selection procedures that comply with the requirements of this regulation and ensure that they make appropriate checks for both employees and directors. Here at QS Care, we are focused on compliance and ensuring everyone we place has all of the right documentation – and we are willing and eager to support people with getting the details they need together.
However, picking the best partner should be based on more than just compliance. It is crucial that you work with a recruiter with a similar ethos to your own, who truly has your best interests at heart, if you are to find yourself roles that you enjoy and where you thrive professionally. Look for a recruiter who your peers go back to time and again, one that’s committed to honesty and transparency and that knows your sector inside out.
It takes a special type of person to be a care assistant. There are few careers that truly make a difference in someone’s life and finding the right healthcare assistant job can be immensely fulfilling. The role can be difficult in many ways, not least emotionally, but it also offers unrivalled rewards. Through choosing the right recruiter, you can guarantee that you are able to share your skills and dedication with a great employer to really make a difference – and land in a great role that is professionally and personally satisfying.