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Getting the right people, with the right skills
Service providers can now access updated guidance on best practice in recruiting social care staff. It is available on the information hub of the Care Inspectorate website, and is an update of guidance previously issued in 2007. The procedures are called 'Safer Recruitment through Better Recruitment'. The guidance aims to broaden the emphasis of recruitment beyond vetting, and examination of experience and history of the candidate. The introduction of the guidance states that:
"The emphasis on values-based recruitment moves the guidance from being focused solely on compliance and protection to one which demonstrates, and will actively support, broader improvements in the delivery of care. We know from scrutiny evidence that there is a close relationship between the quality of staffing in care and the outcomes for people using it. Ensuring that the skills, values and attitudes of potential employees match the post being recruited to is an important element of building a strong, stable staff team which supports better outcomes for people."
Values and attitudes
A study carried out by the Skills for Care group in 2016 showed that a values-based approach to staff recruitment produced:
- More effective working
- Better staff retention
- Better care quality outputs
The Skills for Care group have further resources, support and guidance for employers in following this approach. Personality, attitudes and values are all vital aspects to consider when assessing the suitability of candidates. Some investment is required e.g. in training interviewers, in tools to assess personality and attitudes of candidates etc.
But overall it seems an effective approach and, most importantly, is likely to reduce the risk posed to service users by recruitment of the wrong person for the post.
Applying the lessons
I think it is just as important to apply the same procedures in the recruitment of managers. In my experience, a manager who has empathy, kindness and determination will surround themselves with staff of similar nature. There is a trickle-down effect, where a well-led service will tend to be of higher and more sustainable quality. On the other hand, an unsuitable appointment to the manager post will be more damaging than a mistake in recruiting basic support staff. A manager's work is often less open to scrutiny and challenge, and therefore can make change and improvement very difficult with the wrong person in post.
Vetting alone is not sufficient as this new guidance points out. 'Not unsuitable' does not mean 'suitable', it is for the potential employer to establish independent evidence as to the suitability of the candidates they wish to appoint.
We trust the guidance will be a stimulus to services to show that value-based recruitment is an important ingredient of quality, both for the service and for the people whom it supports.
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