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'Promising signs' says Hampshire County Council care boss as recruitment drive adds eight new starters

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A RECRUITMENT drive for the social care sector is showing “promising signs”, according to Hampshire County Council – despite less than 10 new starters.

Towards the end of last year, HCC unveiled its Call to Care campaign in a bid to fill vacancies in the social care industry, writes David George of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

In the past two months, eight carers have been recruited, according to a new report. But there are currently more than 30 vacancies, with more on the way.

Cllr Liz Fairhurst
Cllr Liz Fairhurst

Cllr Liz Fairhurst, cabinet member for adult services and public health, stopped short of calling the campaign a success but said there are “green shoots” of positivity.

She said: “I think there are some promising signs, and we will continue to progress this initiative in the coming months.

“I would say we’re roughly where we expected to be by this point. It’s a process that takes time with interviews to do and paperwork to fill in.”

The report, which will be presented to the health and adult social care select committee next week, outlined the challenges both with staff recruitment and retainment.

Graham Allen, HCC’s director of public health and care, said: “The strain on the workforce remains high and there is a continued high reliance on agency staff, at increased fees.

“Recruitment remains a big challenge across the care sector, and there has been significant competition for resources from other sectors in the run-up to Christmas, such as retail and hospitality.”

A dedicated recruitment team has been set up by the county council, established within its partner organisation Connect2Hampshire.

HCC received workforce funding from the government in November, equating to £115 per staff member.

Via another government grant, a further £210 per employee is also imminent, with the council recommending it be spent on staff bonuses to improve retention.

As a result of the compulsory Covid-19 vaccination deadline, it is estimated that more than 100 staff members will have left the county’s social care sector.

But Mr Allen reported that there are currently around 30 social care vacancies across six council-run care homes in the county.

Roughly 61% of social care workers in Hampshire have also had their booster jabs.Cllr Fairhurst said: “There’s no specific deadline – it’s just a case of getting new recruits started as quickly as possible.”

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