As social care employers face a challenging time recruiting and retaining staff, the referral and recognition app is providing a much-needed alternative to traditional recruiting methods by enlisting care workers to recruit their friends, and earn money for doing so.
Since its launch 18-months ago, over £1million has been awarded to care workers, for both employee referrals and recognition of great work, providing a welcome boost in engagement and earnings.
The app, created and founded by Neil Eastwood, a sector recruitment expert and author of Saving Social Care, was launched in June 2020, in partnership with Skills for Care, the workforce development agency for the social care sector . Since then, it has grown rapidly, with over 25,000 care workers downloading the app to date, and over 400 care providers in the UK, Australia and Ireland signing up.
The app allows care workers to refer their friends for roles and receive points, which equates to cash, for successful referrals. Employers can also award their team members points on the app to recognise and reward hard work, achievements, and career milestones.
Neil Eastwood explained: “England is in a workforce crisis, with 105,000 jobs advertised in adult social care on any given day, and my research told me that our existing workforce might be the answer.
“When you consider more people work in adult social care than the NHS, and then you think of how many like-minded contacts they must know – that’s a huge untapped source of future staff. But how to find a way to encourage referrals at scale? The app was the answer.”
Care Friends has increased the number of employee referrals within social care significantly, generating over 23,000 candidates so far.
Most importantly, 43% of those candidates have never worked in a paid care role before, versus 34% nationally, so it is also contributing to growing workforce capacity.
Employers are delighted, citing a much higher quality of applicant as well as higher retention rates from those new starters sourced via the app; they’ve been hand-picked and so they are right for the role. This is particularly valuable considering the current level of annual turnover in adult social care, which sits at 34.4%.
Scott Marsh, Co-founder/owner of Your Home Care, said: “We know that competition for new talent is fierce – the app’s turning out to be a huge success and very timely. When we first launched, there was a lot of excitement.
“Some employees said they weren’t interested in social media, but they were soon sharing jobs which was great. At our last induction day, a third of our new starters had been referred via the app”
Amelia Burbridge, Care worker at Bluebird Care North Hampshire and West Berkshire, said: “I love the app. Earning referral and bonus points you can cash in at any point is a real boost, and the points leader board really spurs you on.
“It’s also really rewarding to know I’m part of something bigger – working together with other app users to make sure people get great care workers and better care.”
The care sector’s recruitment challenges will take time to overcome, but at the same time councils are reporting a sharp increase in the demand for care across the country. The Care Friends app is helping to ease these supply and demand pressures, boosting adult social care recruitment, recognition, and retention, one referral at a time.