Recruitment is key to care group expansion

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A care group which opened a 75-bed care home four years ago is now recruiting from two homes after dealing with the aftermath of Covid-19, Brexit and now the cost of living crisis.

Greensleeves Care cares for people over the age of 65 in need of residential care and dementia.

Originally based in Tunbridge Wells, manager Karen Cooper told the Time that her responsibilities took her to manage the transfer of patients and staff from Mount Ephraim House, when it was closed for refurbishment, to a newly opened care home in Seal, Sevenoaks.

“We’ve done a lot of recruiting over the past four years,” she said. “When we moved from Mount Ephraim four years ago, it was just a 38-bed house. Lavender Fields (in Seal) is a 75 bed home.

And now, with Mount Ephraim House reopening later this year, a “double whammy” recruitment effort is underway to ensure both houses are staffed, she added.

“It will be a gradual reopening. We brought 27 residents to Sevenoaks when we moved four years ago, and we’re bringing seven long-term residents back with us.

Renovation and moves haven’t been the only challenge to retention and recruitment, she said, acknowledging the cost-of-living crisis.

However, with pay rates above minimum wage, Ms Cooper said, “staff working for Greensleeves are in a pretty good position”.

“And the cost of living also has an impact on whether people travel for work,” she added, revealing that she had organized a minibus to transport staff based in Tunbridge Wells, who was originally joined to work at Mount Ephraim House, to work in Accord.

Those who had cars received a mileage allowance.

“There is a ‘double whammy’ recruitment effort underway to ensure both homes are staffed”

“We hired a minibus on long-term hire – we still have it and we still carry people – it’s 15-seater,” she said, adding that the bus made about 12 trips a day, to transport every shift to and from the care home.

Another way to reward staff was the annual Greensleeves “awards”, which had been on hiatus for two years apart from a special Zoom ceremony to recognize staff who had continued to work during the pandemic.

“There are 27 houses in the business, and anyone can nominate anyone for the annual awards, which are held at Heathrow,” she said.

The next ceremony is to take place in April.

However, Ms Cooper added: “We were very, very lucky. We managed to keep the majority of the staff, not only during the period when we left Europe, but there was the problem when we all had to be vaccinated – and then they (the government) changed their minds .

“We only had one staff member affected by this (vaccination warrants).

“(But) recruiting in care, it was a very, very difficult period for us.

“Covid has put people off. All the people in charge – the older workforce – just couldn’t go on. It was the worst moment any of us can remember. That’s what we’re trying to fix.

“It’s a good place to work, hang out with the residents. It’s good to be taken care of, ”she said.

“Plus, we don’t just need caring staff. We need house staff. We need laundry staff. There are many, many roles in care. There are plenty of opportunities to grow and develop.

Describing her own career, Ms Cooper said she joined Greensleeves 15 years ago.

“I came into the business as a manager, but I’m a registered nurse and I’ve been here for 15 years. »

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