research and develop a retention strategy for care home staff

Pilgrims’ Friend Society 

"The Action Planning team provided insightful, timely and relevant advice and recommendations drawn from their specific research for us and their considerable knowledge of the sector. Their work has helped us take our work forward more effectively – a good investment for us."


PFS operates as an umbrella charity and is the group trustee for a number of Christian charities, enabling older people to flourish through its care homes, residential housing and support for churches and communities. It runs 15 care schemes across England and, like other social care providers, struggles to recruit and retain care assistants and carers in many of its homes. The Society has a commitment to quality care for its residents (known as family members) and is aware that this comes at a cost.

PFS asked us to help identify some of the recruitment and retention challenges facing care home managers and define key factors in setting a pay policy.

We undertook research and analysis, focusing on two PFS care homes in Wantage, Oxfordshire, and Haslemere, Surrey. Visits to the homes included face-to-face interviews with key staff about pay and conditions, communication and other motivating factors. Telephone interviews were also conducted with recent staff leavers and managers of other care homes in each area, and we carried out online research into current and recent vacancies in the local labour markets, to produce a report that defined the ‘market rate’ for comparable workers in those areas. In addition to pay rates, the report listed the benefits offered by other employers, both in care homes and in other sectors such as retail and hospitality.

These conversations and online research provided useful pointers to help PFS management arrive at decisions on pay setting for 2017 and beyond. The final report was presented to the CEO Stephen Hammersley and a thoughtful discussion followed to explore some of the findings. Unsurprisingly, the solutions are not straightforward and some of the findings were unexpected, causing PFS to review some assumptions previously used to set pay rates. Differences observed between the experiences at the two care homes suggested that each home faces a unique set of circumstances and challenges that affect the likelihood of successful recruitment and retention. It was clear from the research, therefore, that the job market for care home staff is dynamic and fluid and that PFS, as an employer keen to demonstrate best practice and to value its staff, will need to stay flexible and alert to changes taking place in the national and local job markets.

Consultant’s insight:
In a competitive recruitment market, it is a wise client who wants to understand why staff join and why they leave.

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