HR community helps set up fast-track careworker scheme in London

A new scheme has been set up with the help of the HR community in just two weeks to recruit, train and deploy care workers into London’s boroughs to help tackle the impacts of coronavirus.

The project was set up across multiple London boroughs following concerns with the number of vulnerable patients and the key workers who may be impacted by the virus.

It was led by CEO and founder of the HR lounge Angela O’Connor with no staff or budget but a target to turn it around as quickly as possible.

O’Connor used an existing London recruitment portal, Proud to care North London, which was then turned into a pan-London portal advertising care working positions for those with or without previous experience.

She worked virtually on the project with chief executive of Islington Council Linzi Roberts-Egan and a range of volunteers across London Boroughs, including from Ofsted, in a demonstration of central and local government working coherently together.

Speaking to HR magazine, O’Connor said: “It’s been amazing, extraordinary and exhausting. There’s been no boundaries so we couldn't really get caught up in too much bureaucracy. We had over 600 registered in the last week and got 33 out yesterday. It’s on top of the borough's usual recruitment, it's a complementary service so we’re not pushing people out.”

Candidates complete an online registration followed by a telephone interview to find out more about their interest in care roles.

At this stage about 10% - 25% of applicants self-select themselves out of the process as they find out more about the reality of the roles.

The volunteers are open with candidates throughout about the personal care nature of the role so only progress with those who fully understand this. There is then a DBS check, referencing and online training which is all done for free.

Whenever there is a crisis or emergency, local councils have a gold structure to work quickly to help the community, and the project is a great example of what can be done when different sectors work together.

O’Connor added: “It’s not always easy to get people moving so quickly. When you've got people who are just so willing to pull out all of the stops to help, it’s incredible and so impressive. It just shows the quality of the HR community.

“The way in which boroughs come together at such incredible pace is amazing. They are data sharing and it’s extraordinary to see it in action. Sometimes we have to switch video cameras off we all look like rubbish because we’re so tired.”

The project is seeing many workers who have been made redundant apply to be care workers.

“Of course all of the care work is paid work,” O’Connor said. “It’s attracting a lot of people who have previous care experience but also people who have really transferable skills. We had someone who had customer service training where the key skills are the ability to treat a customer well and to listen, so not dissimilar.”

O’Connor has “ditched” the day job while she sets the scheme up, but will step away once the scheme is fully functioning.

She is now encouraging more HR professionals to volunteer their time and expertise if they can to help the scheme continue its success, or alternatively provide it as an option for furloughed staff in the Greater London area.

Further reading:

REC calls for equal PPE and testing for temporary healthcare workers

Healthcare workers likely to leave profession after coronavirus pandemic ends

How HR can support an organisation when its leadership is absent