Recruiting during the COVID-19 pandemic

Local recruitment examples

North Yorkshire: recruiting to the care sector through COVID-19

North Yorkshire County Council’s (NYCC) own specialist recruitment service; The Resourcing Solution, worked in partnership with the Independent Care Group and care providers to launch a multichannel campaign to meet the surge in demand caused by COVID-19.

The campaign targeted all sectors of the community including students, retirees, existing employees, people out of work due to the pandemic and those wanting to help in a time of crisis. The recruitment process was redesigned to include:

  • flexible application methods
  • remote technology
  • fast track DBS checks and documentation verification.

Professional recruiters made the hiring decision and swiftly secured clearances, freeing up operational managers to focus on the frontline delivery.

The campaign reached over 122,000 people, 1200 applicants were assessed and over 300 workers successfully started on the frontline in a matter of weeks.

Whilst many of the relief staff returned to their original jobs after the first COVID wave, 38 have transferred to permanent contracts and 73 still have active relief contracts. In August 2020, planning commenced to recruit for an uplift in staff to provide resilience for COVID and winter pressures.

Recruitment for both our internal provision as well as external care providers continues; from August 2020 – March 2021 recruitment attraction through the “Make Care Matter” campaign has reached 330k plus people, resulting in over 2,000 applicants and 650 new starters.  

In addition, the service has supported 11 care homes with emergency staffing requirements in response to a COVID outbreak that risked meeting statutory staffing levels, involving expediting new recruits, seconding staff and arranging urgent agency worker staff cover.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this initiative email Sarah France-Gorton, Head of The Resourcing Solution.

Leicestershire County Council – Inspired to Care and count-wide recruitment activity

As a result of increasing workforce pressures identified by external providers across adult social care, the development of an external workforce team and the Inspired to Care project was agreed in 2017, supporting the sector in Leicestershire with recruitment, retention & development. The strategic aims of the team are to:

  • improve the image of the sector
  • support the sector with resilience and growth
  • develop and retain the current workforce
  • attract a high-quality workforce.

Inspired to Care’s COVID response supports the external market by attracting people into social care and relieving providers of the pressures of recruiting staff. A county-wide recruitment marketing campaign – “Keep Leicestershire Safe & Well at Home” – continues to support the recruitment of care and support professionals during the pandemic. Inspired to Care is also working with community groups, partner organisations and educational establishments to optimise the reach of the campaign. Over 4000 applications, CVs and enquiries have been received to date. This offer will continue throughout 2021.

The Inspired to Care website also has lots of information about the rewards of working in adult social care, the types of roles available and details of the campaign.

Other workstreams agreed for the next financial year include:

  • CV and candidate lead supplementation to the external market
  • Social Media content to promote social care as a career of choice including interviews with the workforce and celebrating good news stories
  • Updating and refreshing the Inspired to Care website with new case studies and keeping resources and information up to date
  • Annual Care Professional of the Year Awards
  • Work Experience & Taster Sessions
  • Skills for Care Ambassador and Inspired to Care Ambassador partnerships
  • 1:1 Support consultations with the external market to drive best practise and overcome barriers
  • Monthly conferences on recruitment, retention, and development best practise with expert guest speakers
  • Media engagement and press releases celebration the good news for the sector and successful projects
  • Workforce planning for hard to recruit locations
  • Managing a centralised PSL for providers in urgent need for agency staff
  • Work with Education Establishments and Prince’s Trust attracting and educating the future workforce on career in social care
  • Creation of a Local Social Care Careers advert
  • Development of Leicestershire’s social care leaders
  • Coordination of the Skills for Care workforce development fund and increasing completion of the ASC-WDS
  • Social Care Career Pathways
  • Support the external market with workforce health & wellbeing
  • Championing the BAME workforce
  • County-wide sector-based work academies
  • Values-based recruitment workshops
  • Creating an inclusive recruitment toolkit
  • Planned project on engaging with the frontline workforce
  • Nursing Associates
  • Ad-hoc projects from People boards and ADASS
To find out more contact Olivea Allegrini-Jones, Adult Social Care External Workforce Lead, Inspired to Care.

Hertfordshire County Council – telephone interviewing for the recruitment of volunteers

A volunteer coordination centre was launched by Hertfordshire Care Providers Association to recruit volunteer help to care providers who need additional support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Non-care frontline tasks that volunteers can support with include befriending services, collecting prescriptions and shopping, housekeeping or gardening duties and supporting activities teams in care homes.

The phone lines and telephone interviewing are operated by commissioners and supported by NHS colleagues and has proved to be a great resource for providers and personal assistants (PAs) to use. The local voluntary sector has worked together to set up a network to gather volunteers to help with non-regulated care; this has been possible because of additional funding and office support by the council.

A mutual aid scheme has also been set up for providers to log unused hours that could be used for re-deployment.

Care staff working with Hertfordshire County Council residents will continue to get paid if they are affected by COVID-19 symptoms, including PAs.

For more information contact Ted Maddex, Commissioning Manager, Hertfordshire County Council.

Gateshead Council and Health Trust: development of a clinical associate role

Through the NE&NC Integrated Health and Care System, it was identified that Health Education England had a number of medical students who had come forward to potentially be a volunteer in health settings who may also be interested in social care roles.

In partnership with HEE and ADASS colleagues, a ‘clinical associate’ role was developed during the first stage of the pandemic. It effectively sought to consolidate all of the clinical requirements for social care workers in care settings into a single post, thereby freeing social care workers up to do more hands-on care. The clinical associate provided a bridge between the social care team and the GP practice, undertaking virtual ward rounds and consultations with the practice.

Medical students were placed in Gateshead, Newcastle and Sunderland local authorities in their council-managed care settings (intermediate care centres).

This temporary role worked very well during spring and early summer 2020, but once things started to stabilise in care services, the role was stood down.

To learn more about this initiative email Steph Downey, Service Director Adult Social Care, Gateshead Council.

Virtual Sector Based Work Academy – Southport

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Crosby training and Community Integrated Care formed a partnership to recruit candidates and provide learning via digital methods. The opportunity was communicated to all people registered with DWP in the Southport area, using DWP candidates journal messages.

Candidates were screened for previous experience, DBS and equipment needs by DWP. Crosby training screened candidates for their motivation and values, providing information and advice.

Zoom sessions were used to deliver learning to the candidates, covering safeguarding, mental health, basic food hygiene (without exam) and interview preparation. They used a mixture of taught content and completion of self-directed workbooks. The candidates were also provided with one-to-one action planning sessions which included getting them ready for interviews. Crosby training provided the necessary equipment to candidates who didn’t have their own, so they could complete the learning and interview.

Interviews were carried out via Zoom by the employer and they also provided a session about the work they do and the people they support.

The initiative has helped to reach a larger number of people by promoting directly via DWP journal messages to customers. Referrals have come from customers who have previously worked in a variety of sectors, including call centre staff, retail staff, ex-army, and warehousing. All eight vacancies were filled.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this initiative email Jayne Ward, Employer Relationship Manager, DWP.

Leicester City Council Employment Hub

Leicester City focused on two areas: recruitment of volunteers (to support the existing workforce) and supporting new or returning people to find employment in the social care workforce through the Leicester City Council Employment Hub.

The joint initiative advertised for volunteers for their residential, domiciliary and supported living services. DBS checks were funded by the local authority and training was provided via Skills for Care endorsed providers as part of the essential training package defined by Skills for Care. Volunteers were given further information about the different settings; PPE; safeguarding and infection prevention control guidance. The City Council monitored, maintained and oversaw the work and hours of the volunteers. Two volunteers recruited in this period made the decision to work in the adult social care sector and have applied for positions. Updated – This year providers have not needed the Volunteers so this has stepped down, however they continue to utilise the employment Hub.

The Employment Hub and the Contracts Team within the City Council have supported providers to access the DHSC Call to Care Campaign. The Employment Hub oversees applicants, and manages the process, the contracts team uses their intelligence and relationships with the market to target providers with identified workforce needs, this has led to 3 Providers calling people for Interviews

The employment hub also continues to run recruitment campaigns to target job vacancies. CVs were shared with care providers from the employment hub and through the Inspired to Care campaign.

To learn more about this initiative contact Ann Forde, Quality Assurance and Compliance Manager


Oxfordshire County Council recruitment initiative

Oxfordshire Association of Care Providers (OACP) recruitment initiative funded by Oxfordshire County Council focuses on supporting people from differing employment backgrounds to join the care sector.

A new job brokerage service for care providers recruiting in Oxfordshire has been launched. To source candidates, the service was promoted through social media advertising, press releases and local business networks, with support from Oxfordshire LEP. Interested candidates signed up via OACP’s jobs portal, then OACP team members screened the candidates on behalf of providers who have placed vacancies with the service. Candidates get referred to appropriate vacancies or signposted to other opportunities, for example becoming a personal assistant (PA). Candidates are then followed up one month later to track conversion rate of referrals.

In the first two months of the service, the team screened 120 candidates, matching 55 jobseekers to ‘live’ vacancies. Tracking data showed that 25% of candidates matched, started in the role they had been referred to, and a further 22% of candidates placed themselves into an alternative role in social care. Further matching support is offered to those candidates still seeking work in the care sector.

This initiative has now come to an end.

To learn more about this initiative contact Rose Rolle-Rowan- Corporate Services.

Coastal homecare


Coastal Homecare (Hove) Limited is a small domiciliary care agency that registered its interest to recruit volunteers with the National Care Force. A few weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers were matched and were offered either befriending roles for socially isolated people or administration tasks that could be carried out while observing covid-safe working practices.

Three terrific and committed volunteers have been welcomed to the team and have helped with tasks that are appropriate to delegate. As these people have returned to their work or study, Coastal Homes is in a position to welcome new individuals who have the time and skills to volunteer with them.

General recruitment

Coastal Homecare is a small, family run business providing Domiciliary Home Care since 2012. Coast Homecare offers great rates of pay with some guaranteed hour contracts, use of company cars (if applicable), uniform and on-going training.

During the pandemic Coastal Homecare has encouraged and welcomed candidates to consider working in care. They have attracted applicants from hospitality, health & beauty and travel, including folk who previously worked out of Gatwick airport. Coastal Homecare wants to equip people with the skills and confidence to effectively support people to live independently in their own home.

To find out more email Neil Kentish, Area Manager, Coastal Homecare (Hove) Limited.

County Durham Care Academy

County Durham Care Academy was launched by Durham County Council in September 2019 to support local adult social care providers with recruiting new staff and developing existing staff.

Due to COVID-19 the original recruitment model was adapted to enable a fast-track and / or remote approach. There have been several social media campaigns targeting potential staff launched through the Care Academy’s Facebook page @CareAcademyDurham.  Local care provider staff, including successful candidates, have been involved developing a range of materials to support the recruitment campaigns including: -

  • a day in the life of a domiciliary care worker
  • a series of social media snippets
  • a digital TV advertisement
  • a range of press features and case studies

Applicants apply through an online form; the approved applications generate an online reference request and the fast track enhanced DBS process commences. As the pre-employment checks begin, applicants undertake remote training through the Council’s eLearning system, which was developed in line with Skills for Care’s essential training during COVID-19 and with the involvement of their local Skills for Care representative. Once pre-employment checks and training have been completed the candidate information (excluding personal data) goes live on the Care Academy’s recruitment portal on which local care providers are registered. Providers upload their vacancy information and select candidates whom they would like to apply.  Candidates who are successful in interview are supported to access a COVID-19 vaccination and also offered free COVID-19 secure moving and handling training.

By the end of March 2021, 340 people had expressed an interest in adult social care work. We are currently actively working with 106 applicants and 64 candidates have successfully secured employment.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this initiative email Sarah Douglas, Project Manager – Supporting the Provider Market, Durham County Council.