Leadership and Staff Retention in the Care Sector

By Brian Boxall-Hunt – CEO of the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society (www.royalalfredseafarers.co.uk)

According to the recent Skills for Care report, the adult care industry contributes £50.3bn to the UK economy and provides five per cent of all employment in England, however employers are struggling to meet the present demand, with 112,000 vacancies and 430,000 leavers in the last 12 months. The care sector is crucial for the wellbeing of our ageing population as well as the many careers that it provides, but how can leaders of care homes attract and retain talent?

As an officer in the Royal Navy, Brian Boxall-Hunt developed leadership skills over a 35 year career that he has carried with him throughout his subsequent second career. For the last 15 years, he has been “commanding” a different ship at maritime charity, The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society – and its care home, Belvedere House – where he is Chief

Executive. Brian shares his thoughts for leading a happy and long-serving team, which he is currently privileged to have.


As well as being a strategic thinker and hopefully one step ahead, a good leader in my opinion communicates well and listens to their team; making the necessary bold decisions whilst inspiring and empowering others to be the best they can be.

At Belvedere House we have been providing housing, residential and excellent nursing care to former seafarers, their widows and dependants for 156 years. We know that this could not be achieved without having a strong leadership team and the right people in place who dedicate so much time and effort to caring for our residents with compassion, warmth and understanding.


The Royal Alfred is passionate about its people, and we understand that we could not do what we do without our excellent team of staff around us. We support our colleagues by investing in everyone’s careers from day one. We hire with a path in mind for each individual and ensure that every colleague has the tools to grow in their careers – and importantly, suitably reward progress and qualification.

A key benefit for new recruits is a strong programme of training and wellbeing support. Having staff that are equipped with the necessary qualifications, skills and support not only increases efficiency, but can sustain high morale and enables colleagues to feel empowered and valued in their roles.


Recruiting for roles from within wherever possible is a simple way of maintaining low staff turnover rates and showcasing to your team that you believe in their abilities and want them to succeed in their careers. This is a strategy that has enabled us to maintain consistently low staff turnover at the Society.

Having an internal recruitment policy and a culture of support is important because it makes colleagues feel valued, lowers staff turnover and ultimately ensures a continual high level of care for residents.


One of the keys to any successful care home is a capable, dedicated workforce, and building and nurturing a long-serving team plays a huge part in creating this. These people are integral to a care home environment because they foster relationships and trust with residents over time, getting to know them on a personal level, and can therefore tailor care to individuals based on this knowledge. Each year we are proud to host Long Service Awards celebrating colleagues who mark their ten- year, or more, anniversaries with us – we’ve even had some serve for over 30 years and up to 50 years!

Conducting regular staff satisfaction surveys is one way the Society’s leadership team ensures colleagues are happy in their roles and feel fulfilled. The happier and more looked after employees feel, the more likely they are to consider their role a career and not ‘just a job’. We would encourage other care providers to put into place as much training and support as they are able to in order to recruit and retain colleagues.

All in all, I have found that leaders must strive to create an environment where all employees feel valued, listened to and supported in their professional development in order to retain staff.