Professional Comment

Success In Digitization Of The Care Sector Could Mean A Huge Shift In The Traditional Partnership Between Care Settings And Care Recruitment Agencies

By Kalvin Morris, Co-Founder and Director, Elite Care Services (

The white paper published last year by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSE) ‘A Plan for Digital Health and Social Care’, claims that reducing time on administrative tasks will free up carers’ time to deliver more personalised care. But how will increasing digitization of the sector affect the partnership between care settings and carer recruitment agencies? It’s a question I’ve been thinking a lot about recently, as we’ll shortly start seeing the impact of this shift towards digitization in the care recruitment sector.

Digitizing much of the paperwork in care settings clearly has so many benefits; from streamlining and sharing care plans and recording medication more effectively, to saving time on the paperwork that comes with running a care setting. However, care homes are starting from different states of digital readiness, with ‘only 45% of social care providers have any form of digital record keeping’ according to the DHSE. This could mean anything from tracking medical records to a full system of digitized care plans. As care settings start to understand the requirements of becoming digital, recruiters can stay competitive by ensuring that the workforce they are placing are aware of the upcoming transformation, as well as being given training on the relevant systems, and feel comfortable in a digital workplace.

The real work for care settings will be in fully implementing the digital system they choose. There are so many potential downfalls in this phase: in addition to investing in the hardware and software and keeping it secure, I can see there is the issue of change management for the workforce, who may be used to doing the paperwork a certain way or could be unused to using certain types of technology. It is a lot to learn, and sensitively responding to the concerns of the workforce in the implementation phase is a key aspect of the work that care settings need to consider. For recruiters, it is imperative to give carers the confidence to work with the new systems, as well as understanding where the care setting is on its journey to full digitization.

Some might point out that when the sector is fully digitized, there will be less need for recruitment agencies. It’s true that we so often fill last-minute spots, and our turnaround can be as quick as an hour between request and the carer being at the placement. It’s also true that digitization could give care homes more control over workforce planning as the data they collect will enable them to prepare better for different scenarios. The recruitment sector will no longer continue to be able to compete on speed and price, as we’ll be working on fewer last-minute requests. Instead, recruiters will need to be focused on continuing to foster a recruitment partnership to help care settings achieve their longer-term goals. From providing more specialist staff, to upskilling new recruits or using data from care settings to help them predict and be ready for high-turnover situations, recruitment agencies need to be ready to respond to the digital transformation in the sector. When digitization works, it takes the worry off the care setting and gives them a clearer plan of action, basing decisions on past data rather than purely the individual.

That’s not to say that a fully-digitized care setting will replace some of the most important aspects of being a carer. Hopefully, the time saved using digital systems will be time used in giving even more personalised care, providing much-needed social contact and being present, which is what so many of our carers and their clients thrive on. However, it’s clear that recruitment agencies will need to continue to be keenly aware of the changing recruitment and workforce needs and think more creatively as we begin to fully understand the impact of digitization in care settings.