As the care staffing crisis continues to deepen, local care companies are turning to qualified international recruits to fill their staffing void.
The pandemic has shown us just how much our society depends upon our front line carers – the previously unrecognised, often unrespected workers who look after our most vulnerable. But there’s now a recruitment crisis in the industry, with countless jobs seemingly unable to be filled from our domestic workforce. The staffing crisis is forcing local care homes to close or turn away vulnerable elderly people in desperate need of care.
In December the government announced that thousands of additional care workers are to be recruited from abroad to fill the chronic gaps. Care workers will be added to the Home Office’s shortage occupation list, which is designed to help migrants get work visas to fill jobs where there are shortages.
Two years of challenge
Glastonbury-based Candlelight Care has been recruiting non- stop since the beginning of the pandemic two years ago.
“We saw an increase in enquiries New Apex Prime Care’s team members heading for the UK in February early on in 2020, but when the daily death figures began to rise, and furlough was introduced (and extended), enquiries fell to an all-time low” says Roxanne Brown, Candlelight Care’s recruitment officer.
“We still have at least 30% of vacancies to fill, as we are now also having to compensate for losing staff due to them feeling completely burnt out from the last two years.
We cover Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset and East Sussex and all areas have less staff now than we did at the start of the pandemic. “Finding local people who will even respond to our calls or emails after applying, is proving ever more difficult – possibly due to the general perception of care work being ‘menial’ – it’s considered work for the unqualified, and many find domestic and caring chores demeaning. “The pay is also a challenge. We were proud to be able to introduce a pay increase for our care and support workers back in November; they are all Care Champions and deserve the recognition and reward. However it still doesn’t reflect just how valuable they are to us.”
Getting staff to stay
While recruitment is a seemingly- permanent challenge, retention is just as important to Roxanne right now “we are committed to rewarding our current staff who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and repeatedly gone above and beyond any expectations. We are so proud of all of our staff here, including those who have the stressful behind-the-scenes responsibilities!” (you can see Candlelight Care’s current job ad on p.66 here).
Turning to the Philippines
Local care company Apex Prime Care has partnered with smiliarly family-run business BMB International Recruitment, a well- established and ethical overseas healthcare recruitment company, to combat the significant challenges they are also facing with recruiting and retaining frontline carers.
Apex Prime Care are offering cars and sourcing accommodation to smooth the transition to the UK for their new team members. They will also be on hand every step of the way to help integrate the new recruits into the team and into wider society.
Why the Phillippines?
One part of the world with a reputation for providing unrivalled levels of service and care is the Philippines; possibly because the islands have very high educational standards, and with English being the second language, there’s no problem when it comes to communicating effectively in the UK. Huge numbers of Filipino students go on to higher education, with many of them specialising in medicine, hospitality and the care industry.
With unemployment so high in their own country, many Filipinos head for other parts of the world, where they can command much higher salaries than they would be able to at home. And the UK is a favourite destination, offering great opportunities for empathetic and hardworking Filipinos.
Apex Prime Care’s Ben Patrick said “The new team member’s qualifications are outstanding. BMB are recruiting healthcare staff with 4-year bachelor’s degrees in health or social care, plus 1 year work experience for Senior Care Workers.
“19 of our 45 new team members have already arrived and are settling into life in the UK; they have been learning about our culture, exploring their new community, training with the team and meeting their new colleagues and service users. “The need for care in the community is only increasing and with health and social care experiencing one of its most difficult times in history for recruitment and retaining carers, we have started overseas recruitment to help relieve the pressures on hospitals and local authorities, and to fill the void of 120,000 vacancies in the health and social care industry.”
by Laura Hitchcock