A guide to international recruitment – The risks and rewards
Camille Leavold, Managing Director and co-founder of Abbots Care was recently featured in Homecare Association’s magazine. In the article Camille discusses the international recruitment process and the success of Abbots Care international recruitment strategy.
Below is the full article as featured in Homecare Association’s June publication.
International recruitment has made a huge contribution to the Abbots Care workforce in the last 12 months. During this period, we have successfully welcomed 53 care workers.
Why an international recruitment strategy?
We have always had a strong workforce strategy at Abbots Care and have had diversity in our workforce including many Care Workers form Europe. Following Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, the recruitment market was a challenge for the social care sector. Employees were returning to jobs they had pre COVID and numbers began to drop.
Concerns arose elsewhere when we received feedback from local councils implying there were many vulnerable people being discharged from hospital into care beds and without a choice to go home as home care providers, including Abbots Care, did not have enough capacity to meet increasing demand.
So, with both the fall in recruitment and vulnerable people having no choice in their discharge location, we decided to supplement our recruitment by applying for a Sponsorship License.
The international recruitment strategy
The idea behind our strategy was to internationally recruit Care Workers from all over the world on a Care Worker shortage basis.
The application process – The journey to being authorised by the Home Office took our team approximately nine months to complete. To be considered for international recruitment as a company, the process requires a significant amount of information which includes:
Meeting legal requirements – An important step to consider during application. Seeking legal advice can ensure the process is being followed correctly. We were aware of the penalties and potential criminal offenses which could arise if a breach of guidance is followed to this make sure to follow correctly.
The ongoing application for a COS (Certificate of Sponsorship) which took up to 12 weeks.
There are both benefits and challenges to recruiting under a Sponsorship License:
Sustaining a high retention rate – is something we were able to achieve with our international recruitment. Out of the 53 care workers, only 1 has left Abbots Care since June 2022, making our retention rate 98% which is significantly higher than the sector average.
Reduction of people waiting to go home from hospital – Upping our care team members also meant we could help to reduce the discharge waiting list in hospitals around Hertfordshire.
Continuity of care and quality – As we add more care workers to our team, the more flexibility there is in the workforce, accommodating a better and more regular service for our service users.
Reduced pressure on our workforce – Reducing the pressure on our care teams means that we are not constantly asking them to work additional hours or overtime which has also positively affected our staff turnover rates overall.
What do our new recruits say?
‘Great team, awesome atmosphere and a very welcoming environment to work in.’
– Sam, new Abbots Care international Care Worker.
With any new business strategy there are risks and challenges.
Some of the challenges include:
High Volume of applications – As much as we were extremely delighted to receive so many great applications, the volume became overwhelming for our recruitment team. We decided to close applications until we were ready to take on a new group of international care workers.
Driving in the UK – We understood that driving in a new country can be a challenge for anyone. This was a challenge that surfaced when our international work force arrived. But we gave full support to our new team members with driving lessons and subsided vehicles in which they could use on their daily care rounds.
Cultural Induction – We underestimated the amount of cultural induction our international Care Workers would need and learnt quickly that we needed to cover all aspects of their new environment before we could teach Induction and the Care Certificate.
Following good practice – what does it look like?
We asked ourselves the question – What does good practice look like to us as a business?
We came up some key takeaways to consider when looking to start your international recruitment strategy:
- Ensure applicants desire a care role and not simply sponsorship – this is important to guarantee you have a workforce that is the right fit for a quality service.
- Factor in any legal requirements before and during the process of the international recruitment.
- Delegate a mentor dedicated to support from offer all the way through to the applicant arriving in the UK and 6 months onwards.
- Supply a cultural induction before inducting onto the Care Certificate and training.
- Subsidised housing and cars for an initial period as those coming over to work with you may not have accommodation or vehicles to drive.
- Monitor working hours to ensure good care is delivered and rest days are given. On the other hand, ensure new recruits have enough work on a guarantee – not zero hours.
Does it work?
I am asked a lot about what the financial return on investment is from our International Recruits, the financial outlay is significant. I think that we consider that the return on investment is not simply financial. It is also the affect it has had on the whole business, our Care Workers, our Co-Ordinators, our Service Users and especially those that now have a choice to be supported at home where they choose to live.