Posted: 13 August 2021
Rachel Wright, Owner and Registered Manager of In Safe Hands spoke to us about how they’ve utilised student work placements in their organisation and the benefit this can bring to your recruitment processes and staff morale - get #RecruitmentReady
Rachel told us that her motivation to introduce the work placement scheme is because she believes that students are the workforce of the future and we need to invest in them. She said:
“If we don’t invest in them then they’re not going to have any real life experience of the real life working environment. It’s a great opportunity to develop them.”
Additionally, Rachel highlighted that providing placements for the students was not only beneficial for them, but also brought many positive impacts for her, her team, and the organisation as whole.
Speaking of how the student work placements have benefited her staff, Rachel highlighted that the impact has been two-fold increasing staff’s motivation and morale, as well as their skills and knowledge.
“It’s a great opportunity for my staff to learn from the students as they’re coming through with new ideas and evidence-based research, so it keeps everyone’s practice current as well.
“The staff are keen to share their knowledge, so it keeps them motivated. The care workers have said they’re enjoying the teaching element of the role and they feel more fulfilled.
“Out in the community they can be quite isolated as care workers and having this additional student with them gives them that platform to use their experience and knowledge to impart to the learners, and in turn the students are growing in confidence.”
Rachel also reported that having students on-board is not only helping her team to develop new skills and confidence, but is also supporting the entire organisation in continuing to develop and adapt.
She tells us that the students bring new ideas and challenge old concepts, which is helpful to the whole organisation.
“It does make us question ‘well why do we do that in such a way?’, and that’s exactly what we want, we want to change where we need to, and we want to adapt and overcome the challenges faced by all care providers.”
Student work placements are a valuable tool in supporting recruitment and retention within the social care sector.
By providing current staff with the opportunity to mentor and support students, this new level of fulfilment and responsibility in their role can increase work satisfaction which is important in retaining staff.
Offering opportunities to develop and support students is also an important measure in building the workforce of the future, and ensuring that this workforce has the right skills, values, and behaviours to work in social care.
Rachel told us that the students on work placement at In Safe Hands, undertook a range of different tasks which involved going into people’s home with the support and supervision of a care worker, and providing support ranging from meal preparation, to supporting with medication planning, learning how to make referrals to district nurses, GPs and local community practices, and working with multi-disciplinary teams such as occupational therapists to support specialist equipment.
She says this varied real-life experience will be invaluable in preparing students for a future career in care and seeing the how-to-dos of the job which you wouldn’t necessarily experience in the college setting.
The work placements have also had a more direct positive impact on recruitment at In Safe Hands, with two of the former work placement students now working at the organisation full-time. In addition, having built a close relationship with the college, they’re now supporting with promoting placement and full-time roles on their college job board.
Rachel says, “In terms of recruitment it’s been a very positive step.”
Beyond this, Rachel has felt many other positive results of the work placement scheme for her and her organisation. She says:
“To be honest it’s been a real success story for us.
“As a manager seeing the job satisfaction that my staff get from having the students and seeing the confidence of the students grow too has been really nice.”
Rachel also said that growing their community partnerships through the scheme with the college as well as district nurses, GPs, and allied health professionals has provided a real sense of community spirit, and adds, “I feel this is exactly how it should be to get the necessary skills and experience to do the job.”
Her advice to any organisation launching a work placement scheme include getting to know the students; finding out what they want from the placement; setting your expectations, and being very clear about roles and responsibilities in order to support them in the best possible way.
Rachel says she would advise any setting if they can to take on students, saying it’s so beneficial to your team and to yourself.
For more information on social care recruitment have a look at our #RecruitmentReady page.