Hiring care home staff

Your staff are the face of your care home. They need to be skilled, compassionate and have a good bedside manner

Hiring experienced and diligent staff is one of the most important aspects of opening a care home. These are the people who will be interacting with your residents on a day-to-day basis; hearing their stories, caring for them, attending to them.

They will have more intimate experiences with these people than many have in their entire lives and, in some cases, could be there right at the end of their lives.

Because of that, as well as the relevant qualifications, the people you hire must have compassion, kindness and a genuine interest in the health and wellbeing of your residents.

A number of scandals have cast a shadow over the UK care sector with staff not providing adequate care and, in some cases, even abusing residents. As mentioned above, it is your responsibility to put in place adequate safeguarding and training procedures to prevent this happening.

Anybody applying for a post in your care home should satisfy the following entry requirements:

  • Disclosure and Barring Service clearance – this proves you are suitable to work with vulnerable adults
  • Care certificate – this is a 12-week induction programme that you as the employer will have to provide for your staff. Any new employee must have completed this introductory course. Find out more here
  • NMC Pin number – if you’re hiring nurses, they must have registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) – the regulator for all nurses and midwives in the UK. They will be given a pin number as confirmation of this. Care assistants don’t need one

Depending on the size of your business, you may choose to provide free or low-cost accommodation for your carers. According to the National Careers Service, the starting salary for a new care worker is between £12,000 and £16,000 depending on location. More experienced carers can earn up to £25,000.  

You should offer a competitive salary that reflects the level of responsibility and time your employee will undertake to do their job.


Useful links:
It may be worth considering seeing if you can get a Start Up Loan (external partner site, link opens in a new tab) to help you with financing, and mentoring to start this business idea.

You'll also need to think about registering your business, either as a sole trader or as a company - if a company, then Smarta Formations (external partner site, link opens in a new tab) are an organisation that can help you set up.


There are a number of different roles you will have to hire for your care home:

Care assistant

Care assistants work with patients every day helping the resident overcome everyday challenges they may face.

This could be as simple as washing and dressing, or even taking them out for the day and helping them take part in leisure activities with other residents.

However, another part of their role – and perhaps the most important – will be companionship; getting to know the residents and providing emotional support.

If you have a residential care home, rather than a nursing home, most of your staff will probably be care assistants.

Nurses

UK care homes have actually suffered from a lack of nursing staff in the past due to the position being unfavourably compared to hospital work.

This means pay and prestige are lower and therefore less attractive to talented nurses and is one of the reasons there tends to be a high percentage of foreign-born or older nurses in the care sector.

Nevertheless, this previously undervalued position is starting to get the recognition it deserves and still requires highly skilled individuals who will be responsible for conducting any routine medical procedures or check-ups on residents.

According to White you will need a:

  • Lead nurse manager – responsible for overseeing the care provided by the rest of the nurses and care assistants, keeping records and following up on treatments. They will also work closely with the registered manager to ensure the home is in line with CQC standards
  • Deputy nurse manager – responsible for supporting the lead nurse manager in their duties
  • Nurse – responsible for providing ongoing support and care for the home’s residents

Other staff

Of course, you’ll need more than just nurses and care assistants if you want a properly functioning care home. White recommends also employing:

  •        Cooks and kitchen assistants
  •        Hospitality assistants to work in the dining rooms
  •        Domestics and laundry staff

All staff need to be DBS checked to work with the elderly.

Staffing levels

Most neglect in care homes comes from being understaffed so you need to make sure you have enough staff to attend to the needs of every resident adequately.

Last year it was announced that the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) was funding a study into optimal staffing level for care home quality. Set to be published in 2020, the study will explore the relationship between the impact of the ratio of nurses to care staff and how this affects the quality of care in nursing homes.

With a significantly high proportion of care home staff coming from overseas, Brexit is already having an impact on the availability of foreign-born nurses and assistants available. This is causing some organisations to rely on temporary agency staff, who are more expensive, and risks lowering the standard of care.

A high turnover of staff isn’t conducive to maintaining a consistent service to your residents, who will also benefit from being looked after by familiar, friendly faces.

HR software and systems for care homes

Care homes require a lot of staff. While your business relies on them to function, employees also create a lot of admin that can be time-consuming and distract you from more important tasks. Human resources (HR) software and systems can help you to manage your human capital as you grow.

HR software automates many of the HR processes needed to manage your workforce, enabling you to keep track of employee records, and manage leave and holiday.

Provider Features Pricing
CitrusHR CitrusHR is a good option for small care homes with 50 staff or fewer that has been designed specifically for UK businesses.

It links to Xero accounting software and includes:

  • A holiday and absence planner
  • A secure employee database
  • Online timesheets
  • Payroll
  • Expenses
  • HR reports
  • Appraisals and goals

CitrusHR is available for a minimum of £50 per month

First 15 full-time staff: £10 each

Part-time staff: £5 each

Over 15 full-time staff: £5 each

Volunteers: free

Moorepayhr Moorepayhr provides payroll and HR solutions for small businesses.
Its cloud-based payroll and HR software includes:

  • Absence management
  • Performance management
  • Talent management
  • Employee self-service
  • Expense and timesheet
  • Health and safety incident tracking
  • Reporting

Contact for pricing
NaturalHR NaturalHR software comes with a range of basic and complex HR functions including:

  • Security
  • Employee records
  • Employee self-service
  • Expense management
  • HR reporting and analytics
  • Organisational chart
  • Time off management
  • Performance management and goal setting

Contact for pricing

Find out more and compare small business HR providers here.

Below are some of the top UK providers.

Care home management software

There are a number of businesses that offer comprehensive care home management software to help you keep track of the provision of care.

Provider Features Pricing
Log my Care Log my Care has been designed to help care home owners with planning, recording, and coordinating care.

Managers can:

  • Send out ‘to-dos’ to staff
  • See to-dos completed in real time
  • See residents health metrics
  • Store documents, care plans and assessments in the cloud
  • Export data

Caring staff can:

  • Access care notes
  • See their ‘to-dos’
  • Log the care they’ve completed
  • Find resident information
  • Free
    Care Control Care Control is a complete digital care management system that allows care home owners to create electronic care home plans.

    It also features:

    • Risk assessments
    • Handover notes, task allocation and alerts
    • Staff rotas, holiday planning, and absence records
    • Care certificates and staff training
    • Access to residents for friends and family
    • Biometric clocking in and out

    Contact to request a quote
    iCareHealth A suite of care home software solutions that can be used independently or together.

    • Care & Clinical – organise care plans to improve personalisation, efficiencies and quality
    • iCareMeds – manage residents’ medication to eliminate the risk of errors
    • Mobile Point Of Care – manage resident rounds, record progress notes and daily tasks
    • Learning Management – a skills based training platform giving staff access to essential resources

    Contact for pricing

    Ablyss Care Management System
    Helps care home owners to plan and evidence the care that they provide with an emphasis on care management, recording and analysis

    It offers three packages:

    • Bronze – access to online training tutorials and customer workshops
    • Silver – all the above plus 10 free places at customer workshops and a visit from a member of the Ablyss team to help configure the software
    • Gold – All above plus unlimited spaces at customer workshop, three visits from Ablyss team member and two training sessions

    Contact to request a quote

    Hiring staff will be one of your big financial outlays, but once you actually start running your care home there’ll also be utilities bills and maintenance costs to plan for.

    Read on using the buttons to find out more about keeping running costs low.