It may be that recruitment into the mental health support workforce is not a priority issue for some organisations who find a steady supply of candidates applying for roles; however recruiting the right person for the role can help to improve patient experience and “it is impossible to train people to be caring if they did not start off with the right attitude and aptitude” (Cavendish Review 6.11 Recruiting for values). We also know that the mental health support workforce provides the bulk of hands on care for patients (Nuffiled Trust, 2021, pg. 2).
Getting recruitment right first time can also save time and money spent on subsequent recruitment processes when it does not work out. Ensuring that induction of the new employee is fit for purpose will also help reduce turnover rates; you can access guidance on this in the Induction section of this toolkit. Recruitment strategies should sit within your workforce planning, you can access guidance on this in the workforce planning section.
The mental health support workforce is also an alternative recruitment supply pipeline into other roles in your organisation. If you get recruitment right you are building up a motivated recruitment pool for other roles that can be more difficult to recruit to.
A healthcare support worker can be the perfect entry point to the NHS, they are an essential part of a healthcare team and are at the very heart of patient care.
What do we know about recruitment and the mental health support workforce?
There is no NHS national job profile for the mental health support workforce and there are 96 unique job titles within the electronic staff records of mental health clinical support staff. The wide variety of job titles can be potentially problematic, given titles can help indicate to both fellow workers and patients where responsibilities lie (Nuffield Trust, 2021, pg. 3).
There is a lack of consistency when it comes to learning and development opportunities from what is in the job advert and what is in the job description (Nuffield Trust, 2021, pg. 8).
There is evidence to suggest that a more diverse workforce results in improved staff outcomes, staff retention and a more efficient and effective running of the NHS (Nuffield Trust, 2021, pg. 51) and the mental health support workforce can be an accessible role for your local community. Inclusive recruitment practices will enhance this opportunity to reflect your patient population. Further opportunities such as career pathways from the mental health support workforce into other roles will then help increase diversity across staff groups.
Recruitment: To Do List
Resources to support effective recruitment
‘We Are The NHS’ recruitment campaign resources, including features such as social media graphics, can be downloaded and are free to use.
‘A practical guide to developing your healthcare support worker workforce’, is a resource for nursing, midwifery and care staff providing practical case studies and good practice to help you develop newcomers to your workforce.
What is a Healthcare support worker? see specifically slide 8 specifically setting out level 1 2 and 3 to frame your job descriptions (you will need a free FutureNHS platform log in to access this if you do not already have one).
Fair recruitment and career progression is a curated range of resources to support our managers, teams and leaders to have conversations about race and other protected characteristics.
Inclusive recruitment: Leading positive change provides examples of good practice from public, private, and the voluntary sector including information on job creation, person specification, alongside job descriptions and adverts.
Inspire, attract and recruit toolkit, see specifically sections on: Writing your job descriptions and person specification, advertising and values-based recruitment.
Supporting young talent into the healthcare workforce, see how NHS organisations are partnering with The Prince’s Trust to recruit those aged 11-30 from the local community. There is a leaflet and contact details of an account manager who works specifically with the NHS.
Understand how other NHS bodies are improving their recruitment by utilising their role as ‘anchor organisations’ (large public sector organisations which are rooted in place and connected to their communities).
Connect with local schools and colleges via the NHS Ambassadors programme.
Apprenticeships are a key recruitment tool, for more information see the Learning and Development section of the toolkit.