At the interview the candidate seemed just right for the job. But once in the role, things come to light that make you question why you appointed them. It’s a familiar scenario for many employers, but for social care providers it is crucial to ensure you have staff with the right values and attitudes – particularly with the Winterbourne View scandal still fresh in people’s minds.
Case study: Brandon Trust
Like many, learning disability charity Brandon Trust had had problems recruiting staff with the right kind of open-mindedness towards supporting service users in the way the organisation wanted them to, says learning and development manager Julie Plant.
“It is important to us to have staff with a flexible attitude who are of the mind that they are there to enable rather than just to care, because that doesn’t support individuals to become independent,” says Plant.
“We need to have staff with the attitude that adults with learning disabilities should be able to take risks as long as they are safe; they need a ‘can do’ attitude.”
The organisation found the Profiling Values tool particularly useful when it was setting up a new service where a whole new staff team was being recruited.
“Applicants fill out the questionnaire at home before the interview and the manager found this really helpful,” explains Plant. “It meant she had more to probe them with when it came to the actual interview and she felt she was able to put a good team together by using it.”
As well as helping to recruit new staff, the tool can also be used as a developmental resource with existing staff. The charity has used it with several teams when the service was changing, for example when one service changed from a registered care home to supported living.
“The service users then had tenancy rights which required staff to shift their attitude to thinking, ‘this is their home, if it was my home I’d want my own front door key and people not just being able to walk in when they wanted’.”
When the tool is used in situations like these, staff are given feedback in supervision and if any development is needed around certain areas it is written into their individual learning plans. The plan is to start rolling the tool out to all interviews from January 2013, both for permanent contracts and for bank staff.
“The tool gets to the nub of people’s natural attitudes which is why it’s so good,” says Plant.
This is why social care human resources professional Wande Showunmi (below) devised Profiling Values, an online tool to measure an individual’s social care values. Showunmi, the lead partner at Newpace, a human resources service for social care providers, was head of HR at learning disability charity Odyssey Care when the idea came to her.
“We were getting people who had mastered how to give a good presentation at interview and were appointed but once they were in the team it became clear their values weren’t what they should be,” she says.
Profiling Values involves a questionnaire designed to: identify an individual’s suitability for social care work; their preferred approach to supporting people, specifically whether they are an “enabler” or a “carer”; and their degree of openness to the preferences and individuality of others, whether they are “fixed-minded” or “open-minded”.
Enablers or carers
People who score as enablers tend to find it easy to facilitate independence and support clients in taking greater risks. Those who show a preference to be a carer, on the other hand, tend to take a parental approach to supporting clients and may encourage them to live a risk-averse life.
While most organisations supporting vulnerable adults will be looking for enablers, just because an individual scores highly as a carer doesn’t mean they can’t be supported to change their views, particularly if the test suggests that their attitude is open-minded rather than fixed-minded.
Candidates are given 50 minutes to complete the 99 questions, either online or on paper, and this is marked electronically or manually by Newpace or a trained in-house administrator. So far, the tool has been piloted by a handful of organisations including Odyssey Care, Milestones Trust and Brandon Trust, which recently acquired Odyssey Care (see case study, right).
In section one of the questionnaire, each question has three statements to choose from, the last statement being ‘not sure’, for example:
• I work with the people I support to achieve their desired outcomes.
• I always achieve the required outcomes for the people I support.
• Not sure
In section two, individuals indicate if they agree, disagree or aren’t sure, about a single statement, for example:
• The staff team has the final say when it comes to how to support people to live within their homes.
Showunmi believes the tool will ultimately save employers recruitment costs because it will help them take on the right staff in the first place.
“And for service users it will mean that the staff working with them understand them and their needs.”
- For more information on the Profiling Values tool, email Wande Showunmi
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