International Care Worker Recruitment

The UK’s adult social care sector is facing significant challenges in terms of workforce supply. In this new post-COVID, post-BREXIT Britain, with an ageing population, and the cost-of-living crisis, the demand for care and support services is increasing rapidly, and the current workforce is struggling to keep pace with this demand. To address this issue, many care providers are looking to recruit staff from overseas because they struggle to attract and hire the right people with the right values locally.  

I’m proud to say that one of our clients is Abbots Care. They are rated outstanding, and if you’ve met their managing director, Camille Leavold, you’ll know they differ from most care providers. Camille and her team provide home care services across Hertfordshire, Dorset, and Buckinghamshire but it’s not ‘what’ they do that makes them different; it’s‘ How’ they do it that makes them different.  

Camille and I spoke the other week about the good and bad things associated with international recruitment. However, despite Abbots being a shining example of how you can make overseas recruitment work to top-up your team, there are far too many horror stories for my liking, and I fear the worst is yet to come.   

Bluntly speaking, some providers are clearly putting greed and profits over care quality and are choosing international recruitment as a more accessible option than recruiting locally.  

In the last 3-months, I have heard stories about 12 care workers living in a 4-bedroom house, all charged extortionate rent rates. Care providers taking passports off their care workers, allowing people to work 60+ hour weeks despite this being unsafe. I even heard about one care provider charging the care workers for getting them a job at their own company. If some of these things aren’t classed as modern-day slave labour, then we’re not far off it, and it’s very worrying.  

Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with being well off and earning money as long as the money you earn is ethical, adds value to society, and is not driven by your own greed.  

I’m amazed that some providers have suddenly gone from being very picky about who they hire in the UK, regardless of their nationality, to instantly abandoning these so-called quality-checking principles for the simple reason that the international worker will stay for 3-5yrs and work at least 40-50+ hours a week, and never take time off sick.  

When you pop your massive rose-tinted glasses on and look at it like this, what could possibly go wrong? 

For most care providers, one of the main challenges of international recruitment is the lack of clarity around the UK’s immigration rules and regulations. The UK’s Brexit deal with the European Union (EU) has made it more difficult for EU citizens to come to the UK to work. In addition, the government’s recent changes to the immigration system have made it more difficult for care providers to recruit workers from outside the EU. As a result, many care providers are struggling to find the staff they need and must look further afield to recruit talent. 

Despite these challenges, there are a number of benefits to international recruitment:

1.  It provides access to a wider pool of talent, which can help address the skills shortages currently being experienced in the sector. 

2. Recruiting workers from overseas can bring diversity to the workforce, which can promote inclusiveness and cultural awareness.

3. International recruitment can boost the UK’s economy by attracting workers who can contribute to the local economy through their spending and taxes. 

However, ensuring that international recruitment is carried out responsibly and ethically is essential. This means ensuring that workers are not exploited or mistreated and that they are given appropriate support to help them settle into their new roles and communities. Care providers should also ensure they follow all relevant legislation and regulations and provide workers with safe and suitable accommodation. 

Care providers should consider working with reputable recruitment agencies to ensure that international recruitment is carried out responsibly and ethically. These agencies can provide support and guidance on the recruitment process and help ensure that workers are treated fairly and given appropriate support. They can also offer assistance with the sponsorship and immigration processes, which can be complex and time-consuming. 

Another critical factor to consider when recruiting internationally is the need to provide adequate training and support to new workers. I’m not talking about getting them through the care certificate; I’m talking about cultural integration. You need to ensure you help and support your new workers to adapt to UK culture and what will be a new way of life for them. If you’re a care provider in London, then you won’t cover the same things that a care provider in the Lake District will cover because they are vastly different lifestyles.  

Cultural awareness training may be needed, as well as providing ongoing support and guidance, and links to other community groups that will help them to adapt to life in the UK.  

International recruitment can and will play an important role in addressing the workforce shortages in the UK’s NHS and adult social care sector. For now and in the foreseeable future, the sector has no choice but to go down this route.  

If you haven’t read last month’s blog already, click here to learn how to foster a culture of respect and appreciation in your care company.

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