Brighton crews services with temps in pioneering scheme

A local authority is to expand a successful care venture staffed
by temporary workers, writes Derren

It comes at a time when workforce development body Investors in
People has warned that many employers lack the foresight to
establish systems for managing and motivating temporary workers and
are not utilising their skills properly.

Such an accusation could not be levelled at Brighton and Hove
Council. In 2002, it recruited a small pool of temporary care staff
to work across a variety of adult care establishments. Since then
the scheme has grown and is being expanded into children’s
Called Care Crew, it now has 230 registered staff and provides
about 2,500 hours’ of work a week for 22 council care services
(five older people centres, 15 learning difficulty centres and two
for older people with mental health problems). Care Crew saved the
council more than £300,000 last year in fees for agency staff,
who are often used to cover for permanent staff absence and during
busy periods.

Care Crew’s creator Lance Richard says the key to the service being
so successful and popular with staff is the quality of training and
flexibility the scheme offers.

“When we have induction days we attract a very diverse group of
people that reflects our community,” says Richard, who is
recruitment manager, Brighton and Hove Council.

After applicants go through interviews they do a two-week induction
course, which includes training on manual handling and health and
safety issues, followed by a week shadowing workers in one of the
council’s centres.

“They are then registered on our database and are free to work as
flexibly as they want and do shifts when they like. Ideally we
would like them to go into working permanently and when permanent
vacancies come up they tend to apply for them,” Richard says.
The crew has become so popular that recruitment events are now run
monthly at local hotels and there is a fresh group of people being
inducted every month.

There are also big financial savings: Care Crew staff are paid
£8.42 an hour but this is still £2.50 an hour cheaper
than agency staff because there are no fees; and the running costs
are low, about £70,000 annually for administration. The
council is so impressed that it is expanding the scheme to
children’s residential homes.

If savings are replicated in the children’s sector Care Crew is
likely to be expanded to other services. And it is probably why
Brighton is visiting other councils to explain the virtues of the
temporary workforce.

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