It’s no secret that recruiting in social care is a tricky kettle of fish.
And while every single one of us has had to adapt to the impact of COVID-19, social care workers, and our incredible frontline, have worked tirelessly to help keep some of the most vulnerable among us safe throughout the pandemic. So, in a world where many of us have been working from home, our teams have shown up day-in-and-day-out across our communities to keep providing vital support. And this is also mirrored in the important work of our Shared Lives carers.
Which means it’s no surprise that on top of the usual barriers to successful recruitment, it’s a tricky time to entice new staff to the sector. And an even trickier time to encourage people to take on the self-employed role that is becoming a Shared Lives carer. However, Avalon Group, a social care charity based in the North of England, has managed to use an innovative digital approach to more than double its average yearly recruitment of Shared Lives carers over a five-month period.
“In a good year, we’ll aim to attract 12-20 carers. However, between November 2020 and March 2021, we managed to successfully recruit 30 across Avalon,” says James Plummer, Business Development Manager at Avalon Group.
What is Shared Lives?
Shared Lives carers open their homes to provide either a short or long term living arrangement to people with a care or support need. It's similar to fostering, but for adults rather than children. Most importantly, Shared Lives offers personalised support in a safe, family environment, helping people to grow and thrive.
“Shared Lives is an incredible service, but to ask someone to commit to welcoming a person needing support into their homes isn’t an easy sell in a pandemic,” says James.
Why was the project such a success?
Avalon Group worked in partnership with several other Shared Lives providers under a joint project led by Shared Lives Plus to really focus on driving more carers to the scheme.
“It was amazing working with Shared Lives Plus, we received generous grant funding that gave us the flexibility to trial and test ad-sets, key messaging and different imagery to get our advertisements noticed online.
“We used demographic research provided by Shared Lives Plus to help us target people most likely to become carers through carefully messaged social media campaigns.
“The project was hugely successful for us, and coupled with an internal review of our entire carer application/assessment process, we’ve been able to drastically reduce the length of time it takes to approve Shared Lives carers – from 2-6 months, right down to 1-2 months,” says James.
Melissa and Adie from near Saltburn were recruited as Shared Lives carers throughout the pandemic, and are looking for a matched customer to welcome into their home long-term.
The power of storytelling
Avalon Group didn’t just rely on Facebook advertising, but used powerful video messages from carers to help highlight the benefits of joining Shared Lives.
“We know that deciding to become a Shared Lives carer isn’t a snap decision, it’s something that takes careful thought and requires commitment and dedication – so we knew seeing a simple static image wouldn’t be enough to encourage people to actually begin the process,” says James.
The team at Avalon called on their current carers to help them tell the story of Shared Lives through video stories, blog posts and written interviews – combined with posters, social media toolkits to help employees share job posts, literature targeted at sector stakeholders and a bespoke microsite, it was an integrated marketing approach with consistent messaging that helped the campaign achieve such success.
“Our microsite has had almost 6,000 unique site visitors since we set it up, and our Facebook campaigns have reached more than 200,000 people in our target audiences – so we’ve really helped promote Shared Lives in our local area,” says James.
Sarah and her customers helped share their stories throughout the recruitment campaign
What happens next?
Avalon Group are still working hard to welcome more Shared Lives carers to the Avalon family.
“We’re still using digital advertising to recruit and still looking for even more innovative ways to attract people to Shared Lives.
“As the world opens up, we’ll explore more ambient media, more events and more targeted recruitment across Yorkshire and the North East.
“We’re passionate about how brilliant Shared Lives is, and we know it’s a safe and effective way to care for people who need support – so we’ll continue to do our best to be there for those in our community who need us,” says James.
There’s never been a better time to become a Shared Lives carer, if you’re interested in welcoming someone into your heart, home and your family, head to Avalon’s Shared Lives site now and get started with a simple click: www.avalonsharedlives.co.uk.