Care Friends – the app changing the way staff are recruited in social care
Neil Eastwood has been fighting to solve the recruitment crisis in social care for ten years. As author of the best selling book Saving Social Care and adviser to the Department of Health and Social Care on recruitment matters, his insights have now informed the development of an innovative app which uses a completely fresh approach to attracting care staff.
Developed in partnership with Skills for Care, the Care Friends app is now up and running. Neil kindly took time out of his busy schedule to talk us through this exciting app and the positive implications it could have for care providers:
What does the Care Friends app do?
Care Friends maximises the number of employee referrals from the existing care workforce. It is based on overwhelming evidence that recommendations from current staff are the highest quality source of new care workers. It also allows the employer to instantly reward any member of the team for a job well done or achieving a goal. It uses gamification – the application of typical game elements such as points, rules and a leaderboard – to hugely increase engagement. In our case 1 point = £1.
Who is Care Friends targeted at?
The app is aimed at any employer of care staff. It has four target groups that each need to get value from using it. Firstly, for care providers it should be a simple, low cost way of recruiting high performers. It also needs to work for care staff – the app users. They should be able to easily share job openings with friends and keep track of their rewards. Then the recruiter has to find the system easy to manage. Finally, the friends of care staff have to find the job adverts appealing and find enquiring quick and easy. From the pilot trials, it looks like we have managed to keep everyone happy!
What makes Care Friends more effective than traditional employee referral schemes?
Traditional referral schemes suffered from lots of inefficiency. The biggest problem was that they were never top-of-mind with employees, especially when they were outside of work and with their friends. It was also a pain to administer and the risk was that payments got missed and rewards were disputed. It just wasn’t fun to be part of and in most cases employees successfully referring friends had to wait months for their pay out, reducing motivation to keep referring.
Care Friends fixes all those issues with immediate notifications and instant rewards. It also allows referring staff to earn points before hire – so rewarding them for their effort as well as the result.
Care providers have very limited budgets and time for recruitment – will Care Friends help with this?
Yes. Care Friends is a low cost platform, with smaller providers paying £1+VAT per employee per month and volume discounts for larger employers. A typical homecare provider with 40 staff would pay less than £500+VAT a year for a licence. The system allows busy recruiters and managers to keep track of applicants from their phone with a few taps. There is also the ability to connect with existing HR software so applicants can be managed in one place and data doesn’t need re-entering.
Is there a wider facility to reward things other than referrals?
Originally my vision of the app was simply to encourage more employee referrals but in our very first homecare pilot the owner asked if we could allow points to be awarded for other things too. In his case he wanted to encourage staff to complete their employee survey, with an incentive of a few points. This bonus point feature has since taken off and now employers are rewarding staff for all sorts of behaviours.
In the Covid-19 landscape there may be opportunity to attract care staff from other job sectors impacted by the economic downturn. Will Care Friends help with this?
There is no doubt that job enquiries have risen for most care providers during this period. The problem for recruiters is to pick those who are more likely to stay and are not applying simply to have any job until their previous one is available again. By using the recommendations of existing employees, Care Friends automatically identifies those who the team consider are most likely to do well in our sector and have the right values we seek. Another plus with social distancing is that it isn’t necessary to physically meet your friend face to face to tell them about the job any more. App users simply share the job via SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook or whichever method they want.
Tell us about the significance of your partnership with Skills for Care on this app.
Colleagues from Skills for Care spotted the potential of the app straight away when I mentioned it during planning meetings before it was even a prototype. They provided valuable support and advice as we developed it. Having them as partners is hugely significant, not only because they have such deep connections across the sector, but because of the credibility and expertise they bring. Full credit to them for backing an early stage innovation such as this. They stepped up and have been instrumental in getting us to where we are today.
To find out more about Care Friends, visit the website here, and to learn more about how Insequa can support your care organisation take a look here or give us a call on 0115 896 3999