A South Australian aged care provider is using a digital staff referral platform to attract workers as it gears up for an anticipated increase in the number of home care packages.

A South Australian aged care provider is using a digital staff referral platform to attract workers as it gears up for an anticipated increase in the number of home care packages.

Narelle Milne

The aged care royal commission has recommended clearing the 100,000-strong home care waiting list by December, with the federal government set to outline funding measures in next month’s Budget.

ECH says it’s doing everything it can to prepare, including signing on with the Care Friends platform, which enables current staff to share job vacancies with their networks via an app.

The program was developed in the UK a year ago and now is being rolled out to aged care and disability service providers in Australia and New Zealand. ECH has been using it for the last few months after being invited to trial it.

Tech, gaming and automation

Founder Neil Eastwood is a former adviser to the UK health and social care department and has penned a book called Saving Social Care, which looks at ways of finding and keeping frontline aged care care staff.

Neil Eastwood

He says Care Friends is specifically designed for the social care sector and combines technology, gaming and automation, with a bonus point system to incentivise its use.

ECH Human resources manager Narelle Milne says ECH has already found three new employees – the first to be sourced via Care Friends in Australia – and offered jobs to two more.

Previously the provider used traditional referral systems which required spreadsheets and were heavy on administration.

“Now we upload all our vacant positions in the backend and staff download the app, and from there they can share a link to friends, family or social media,” she tells Community Care Review.

Bonuses for staff referals

Ms Milne says employees can earn points by sharing the app or by having a candidate they referred attend an interview or get a job.

Employers can also  allocate bonus points on an ad hoc basis, whether it’s for good work or positive feedback from clients and families, which can be redeemed for cash via the payroll system.

“During May we’ll have bonus points for downloading the app and signing up and double bonus points if they refer someone who successfully attends an interview,” she says.

“We’re also looking at incorporating the system into an organisation-wide reward and recognition program.”

Preparing for the future

Ms Milne says adopting the platform is one way that ECH is preparing for any future increase in demand for home care services, along with maintaining close relationships with training providers and universities.

 “We think that our current employees are going to be one of the key ways of sourcing new staff,” she says.

“They know who we need they know the right candidates, they know what we’re looking for in our staff and being able to have it come through word of mouth is going to be crucial for us when we do have to surge that workforce up.”

ECH has 654 staff at the moment and Ms Milne says it’s a waiting game as to how that will change, although the provider is prepared for a need to dramatically ramp up.

“It all depends on how many home care packages will be released and how fast,” she says.

“It’s a bit in the air until we know what the government’s going to do.”

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