Named as a Finalist for the Nursing Times Workforce Awards ‘Best Recruitment Experience’ category, the team’s shortlisting recognises their bold and innovative approach in responding to challenges recruiting to healthcare support worker roles, whilst ensuring strong representation of the local population.
Lisa Guthrie, Associate Director for Nursing explains: “We were delighted to obtain NHS England funding to support our ambitions to grow our Healthcare Support Worker (HCSW) teams as part of the national Widening Access and Participation programme.
Our aim was to offer greater opportunity, recruiting colleagues from diverse backgrounds to help us strengthen our HCSW workforce – one which more accurately represents our local population.Lisa Guthrie, Associate Director for Nursing
In recently years the North East’s global majority population has grown significantly, yet the diversity of the workforce is not reflective of this increase. The proposed widening access project aimed to recruit people from Newcastle’s local community.
Lisa adds “We worked collaboratively with colleagues at NHS England, government, private and voluntary organisations as well as carrying out market research and stakeholder consultation, all of which led us to the concept of taking our employment offer out into the community.”
Widening Access to Participation
The Trust’s HCSW recruitment team held a day long recruitment event at the Beacon Centre – a community venue in the West end of Newcastle. In line with NHS England’s ambition to recruit applicants who were ‘new to care’ the event was open to anyone with previous HCSW experience as well as those who did not, as full training and ongoing support would be provided.
Recruitment specialists Indeed supported the Trust in this endeavour, removing the barrier of previous experience as a requirement.
“To broaden our reach to local people we decided to trial a ‘walk in’ without prior appointment approach,” continues Lisa. “Details were promoted via targeted social media posts and through the sharing of posters and flyers with local businesses and other organisations.
“Furthermore, to strengthen our endeavours we invited a range of external organisations to ensure we could meet the needs of all of our candidates offering public health, wellbeing and financial advice, and signposting to other employment or volunteering opportunities with organisations such as the Prince’s Trust.”
Giving our Healthcare Support Workers a voice
The event was also supported by a number of our HCSWs to ensure they had a voice in the process and fully recognised for the work that they do.
Each candidate’s journey included registration, a ‘welcome’ presentation by Associate Director of Nursing Lisa Guthrie to give a comprehensive insight into the role and its expectations, as well as the completion of a screening assessment form.
All candidates who fit the HCSW role criteria were directed for interview whilst those who did not were introduced to our Volunteer to Career, Staff Bank or Apprentice teams which could offer alternative opportunities leading to gateways to employment.
One challenge we were mindful of was the uncertainty of how many would attend the event and we did receive an overwhelming response of somewhere in the region of 1000 interested individuals.
The team successfully screened nearly 300 candidates, interviewing the majority of these throughout the day. Those who we could not accommodate on the day provided details which were managed over subsequent days.
Lisa says “Such a resounding response clearly demonstrates the appetite of local people to work in our trust as a HCSW as well as the importance of ensuring opportunities for underrepresented groups in our workforce.
“We will certainly follow a similar approach in future but refined in terms of process following on from this experience and analysis of success rates.”
All successful candidates have now joined their new colleagues across the trust and we are delighted to follow their progress.
The Nursing Times Workforce Awards
The Nursing Times Workforce Awards recognise and reward the excellent work that is being done by individuals and employers to support the nursing and midwifery workforce.
Co-located with the Nursing Times Workforce Summit, this Awards event inspires and rewards organisations for excellence in supporting the future of the health and care workforce.
The Awards ceremony takes place in London on Tuesday 21 November 2023. Good luck to the team!