In traditional homecare the first conversation is usually called the assessment. The purpose is to find out what the person’s needs are, and to do a risk assessment before the service starts. The conversation will be dictated by the paperwork.

How can we change this conversation from needs and risk, to what matters to the person, and learning about their priorities? Can we have paperwork that is person-centred, and yet still fulfills the expectations of regulators? This is what we are exploring with the new team of Wellbeing Workers. We want the first meeting to be a conversation, and the paperwork seen as the record of a conversation, not a form to fill in.

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Does this sound familiar? Jean was recruiting for carers for a homecare team. She shortlisted five people and invited them to come for interview. Out of the five, only one person turned up. The person who did turn up said,

“I don’t really want the job, but the job centre expects me to come for interviews.’

Like Jean, I was worried whether people would turn up. Yesterday was our  recruitment day for the new self-managed Wellbeing Worker team we are establishing in Lytham St Annes, for Caring Hands. This is a new way or working in home care, and we have been trying a very different way to recuit people. Yesterday was the day to find out whether this had worked.

We have 60 people expressing interest, 30 people had a 15 minute telephone call with Geraldine the registered manager, to talk about the role and received recruitment packs and given the date for the recruitment day. Knowing that people not turning up is such a big issue we asked people to phone to confirm their attendance by 16th August. Ten people confirmed that they would come – but would they really turn up?

The day due to start at 10am, at St Anne’s Community Centre. With fifteen minutes to go there were only 3 applicants in the room. Then everyone else arrived – nine in total – carrying foil covered trays, and plastic bags – bringing their lunch to share. Bringing a lunch to share was not the only thing different about how we wanted to recruit people for this new team. This is what we were trying:

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1) Recruiting for values

We intentionally did not ask for CV’s for people, or asked people to fill out application forms. We wanted to meet people as they are, and learn about them, and their values through the process of the day. One of the ways that we did this was to use the resources from Skills for Care, and created sets of ‘Values Cards’. We used these in small groups for people to share their answers and values with their potential team-mates – as well as us, listening in.

2) Focusing on Head, Heart and Hands

Ali Gardner explained in her blog how we are looking for people to use their head, heart and hands in this role, and therefore we wanted to reflect that in the recruitment process.

Head – We wanted people to tell us how they would ‘use their head’ to respond in different situations. One of the ways we explored this was through scenarios, explaining in turn what they would do if confronted with a particular situation.

Heart – Working in a self-managed team involves brining your whole self to work, sharing who you are and what matters to you. It is also about working ‘from the heart’ in a compassionate way with people we support – and each other. We wanted people to both feel comfortable sharing about themselves, and learning about each other too. We started gently with a warm-up exercise and built on this to ‘human bingo’,  and then answering the values questions took the personal sharing to a deeper level.

One-page profiles are a key way to communicate what matters to you. At the telephone conversation part of the process, Geraldine explained how we use one-page profiles and we asked everyone to bring their draft one-page profile with them to the day (and provided information about how to do this in their recruitment pack). The recruitment pack included the one-page profiles of the recruitment team, so that people could ‘meet’ us through our one-page profiles before they came. All nine people bought their one-page profile, and during the day there was an opportunity for personal reflection, to add to their one-page profile and share this with the whole group.

We also wanted to see how people could, through conversation, learn what matters to the older people they would be supporting if successful. We used the ‘What Matters to Me’ booklet, and people working in pairs finding out what mattered to an older person (part of the recruitment team) through conversation.

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Hands – As home care is a role that requires people to use their hands, two sessions directly explored this. When we were designing the day, we thought about people helping each other to eat as part of the recruitment process. Whilst we can see benefits to that, we were also conscious that you would know what the recruitment team were looking for, so could we approach this another way? In the end we decided on hand massage. We thought that expecting people to do something they have not done before (only one person had experience of hand massage), following instructions, and connecting personally through physical contact would help use learn more about people. People also used their hands to build structures from spaghetti!

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3) Looking at team working

Being part of a self-managed team requires learning about team working in a deeper way. We covered this three different ways – in the scenario section there were scenarios related to being a self-managed team; we used the marshmallow and spagetti exercise, where people have to build a structure together in 18 minutes, and we had an exercise where people had to give feedback to another person. The concept of bringing lunch to share was also part of this – working together and sharing skills and lunch.

4) Thinking about this as ‘finding a match’

I explained at the beginning of the day, that we were looking for a good match between the role and people. To show that we were serious about this, we include a section where people interviewed me and Geraldine (the registered manager) about the role and what it entailed.

5) Co-producing the process and decision-making

We have a team of us organising and delivering the day, and making the final decisions. This included two older people, the registered manager, and the Community Circle Connector. We are setting up the Doncaster team in October, so Becky, the registered manager for the Doncaster team came along to see what the process was like. I asked my colleague Michelle to join us, as she leads on teams and organisations within H S A and used to be a home care manager herself. Caring Hands are working in partnership with Community Circles, to ensure that we can focus addressing lonliness and isolation as important elements of well-being.

The two older people – who introduced themselves to the group as Amy and Freda, were equal decision-makers in who was invited to join the team at the end of the day. Their role was particularly important in the session where people demonstrated how they would learn about what matters to an older person.

 

Today, five people from the group of nine are being offered jobs as part of our first Wellbeing Workers team in Lytham, the first self-managed home care team. People gave wonderful feedback about the process at the end of the day. This is not a surprise if you are being considered for a job of course, and  our evaluation partner, Joe McArdle from Chester University, will be following this up so we can learn more.

What would have been different, if these same nine people had come for a half hour interview?

One woman, lets call her Maria, presented really well in all of the scenarios and values questions, but it was only in the hand massage, and the ‘what matters’ conversations that we noticed how she spoke over people, always had a ‘bigger story’ and struggled to listen. If I had been only interviewing her I would have given her the job, and then struggled to let her go through the probation period.

Two other people, lets call them Jo and Karen, expressed how they loved the concept of the self-managed team but were not sure how much hands on care they really wanted to do. We talked about this a lot during the ‘interview us’ section, and this helped them both realise that this role was not for them. If we had just done a half hour interview I think they would have decided to give it a go, and learned within the first two weeks that this was not really the role for them and left.

 

I am encouraged by what we are learning, but will everyone accept the jobs, and still be here in 3 months time? I will let you know.

 

PS 5pm Just heard that everyone has accepted the jobs. Phew.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The person specification is complete – and it is in the format of a one-page profile. We have called people Well-being Workers instead of carers, to emphasise that the role is to very different to a traditional carer. The job description is also very different. We explain that the team will be small (no more than 12 people), self-managing and flexible.

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