How one recruitment firm is finding answers to staffing New Zealand’s aged care sector

The positive outcomes which can be realised when business and government work together to address unemployment has been demonstrated, yet again in a new program being rolled out across New Zealand.

The program, was piloted in February when specialist healthcare recruitment firm Medcall connected with the New Zealand Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to deliver a pilot program where people receiving government benefits could be assessed, coached and trained for the role of a caregiver and supported into jobs in Aged Care.

The pilot program successfully trained and placed 40 individuals - some of whom had been long-term unemployed - in aged care sector jobs and is now being rolled out across eight regions of New Zealand with the expectation it will see another 160 MSD clients secure work. The program was provided to the participants, who met specific criteria, for free.

“We have a rapidly ageing population and a shortage of workers in the aged care industry,”

New Zealand’s Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said in a statement.

“So it makes sense that we partner with companies like Medcall, to train New Zealanders for an industry that is growing fast and will continue to do so.

“Working in the aged care sector can be satisfying and fulfilling work for the right person.”

Medcall Contract Manager Jane Clements (pictured left) explained that by specialising in aged care staffing, the company had learned to find innovative ways of sourcing the staff they need and was always keen to give back to the community.

“We are one of the largest providers of agency staff to New Zealand’s aged care sector,” Clements said. “Being so focused on the staffing and quality of staff in one sector means we try to be involved and supportive of other companies or services who are also trying to improve the sector. After various discussions with our clients, we were soon connected with MSD.

“To be honest, it didn’t take long for both parties to realise there was a great opportunity to share core competencies to achieve some awesome outcomes for the aged care sector.

“MSD have the desire to help their clients find sustainable employment and support employers to have access to people seeking work. We have the core recruitment and coaching skills to work with large cohorts of applicants and really pin down who might do well in aged care and how we can help them get there.”

Clements explained that to source staff during a well-documented shortage of caregivers and registered nurses in New Zealand’s Aged Care sector, Medcall held seminars, recruitment events and employer jobs expos to source staff and introduce them to employers. This process will be repeated across NZ for the second round of the program.

“We already knew that the initial screening and face-to-face meet with potential applicants was super important in terms of setting the scene and getting good commitment and interest from those applicants,” Clements said about setting candidates up for success.

“We learned during the pilot that we need to come from a place of supporting, mentoring, coaching and encouraging people in to the roles when they have some doubt. They way applicants responded to that model and behaviours was incredibly positive and successful!

“I was constantly surprised by how skilled, warm, talented and motivated applicants were but they often didn’t believe they would be suitable for these roles, didn’t understand the roles or had lost confidence over time.”

Clements, who said the lack of aged care staff was the result of a “not so perfect storm of an ageing population and workforce, low unemployment and competitive options in other sectors offering higher wages”, hoped this program would attract MSD clients who may have not previously considered working in healthcare.

“This program supports people on particular benefits to prepare them, coach and educate them about working as caregivers and giving them opportunities to meet/greet and face up to employers that they otherwise might not have experienced,” she said.

“MSD have the desire to help their clients find sustainable employment and support employers to have access to people seeking work. We have the core recruitment and coaching skills to work with large cohorts of applicants and really pin down who might do well in aged care and how we can help them get there.”

Clements explained that to source staff during a well-documented shortage of caregivers and registered nurses in New Zealand’s Aged Care sector, Medcall held seminars, recruitment events and employer jobs expos to source staff and introduce them to employers. This process will be repeated across NZ for the second round of the program.

“We already knew that the initial screening and face-to-face meet with potential applicants was super important in terms of setting the scene and getting good commitment and interest from those applicants,” Clements said about setting candidates up for success.

“We learned during the pilot that we need to come from a place of supporting, mentoring, coaching and encouraging people in to the roles when they have some doubt. They way applicants responded to that model and behaviours was incredibly positive and successful!

“I was constantly surprised by how skilled, warm, talented and motivated applicants were but they often didn’t believe they would be suitable for these roles, didn’t understand the roles or had lost confidence over time.”

Clements, who said the lack of aged care staff was the result of a “not so perfect storm of an ageing population and workforce, low unemployment and competitive options in other sectors offering higher wages”, hoped this program would attract MSD clients who may have not previously considered working in healthcare.

“This program supports people on particular benefits to prepare them, coach and educate them about working as caregivers and giving them opportunities to meet/greet and face up to employers that they otherwise might not have experienced,” she said.

“This particular program is one of many strategies currently in place or needed to improve recruitment in aged care. Any program that really gives people a chance to consider career options and gain enduring, professional and enjoyable employment along with a process that ensures they will be kind and safe caregivers have got my support for sure.”

Upcoming jobs expos for the program will be held in Waikato on November 22. Expos will also be held in Nelson, Southland, Central, Wellington and Auckland by June 2019 with dates to be confirmed.

Those interested in finding out more should contact Medcall or their local MSD office.

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