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An international solution to recruitment at Sussex Health Care

By Luke Aldred

​When Healthcare HR Director, Laura Fehilly joined Sussex Health Care (SHC) in February 2020, she was met with two big recruitment challenges. SHC was struggling to attract any applicants for its nursing vacancies. When Sanctuary International received the call from Laura in March 2020, the issues were all too familiar. As one of the largest providers of residential care services in Sussex, SHC was struggling to recruit permanent nurses. This was made even more difficult by the fact that some care homes had seen their ratings decline.

Then COVID-19 hit. Recruiting nursing staff to join its workforce of 600-strong team was almost impossible. Moreover, SHC had exhausted all online and offline advertising avenues, refer a friend and other agency solutions. Unfortunately, they were stuck and heavily reliant on temporary agency nurses to deliver care.

Sanctuary International’s solution

Just one month into her role, Laura knew another approach was needed. Having worked with Sanctuary before, she reached out to us for support. Laura was clear on what SHC’s expectations were. They needed to recruit nurses with experience of having cared for patients with complex conditions. After all, many of their residents have learning disabilities, acquired brain injury, autism, or dementia. Our first job was to understand the ‘profile’ of the nurses Laura needed to recruit. Having established this, we knew the international nurses we were already speaking with had the right experience.

After presenting CVs to Laura for review, we arranged interviews and took care of the entire international recruitment process. Amongst many things, this involved documentation assistance, booking flights and finding suitable accommodation (when required). Given the unfolding COVID-19 situation, there were further challenges we had to overcome. We worked closely with SHC and the nurses we were placing on a safety-first approach. Speaking on how our services stand out above other agencies, Laura says:

“My expectations were exceeded with the calibre of staff supplied and the support that Sanctuary International provided throughout the whole process.”

Creating a thriving permanent workforce

The results have been outstanding. SHC has now recruited 18 nurses through Sanctuary International, when previously they found it impossible to attract applicants.

“International recruitment is not an instant fix, but it is definitely a solution. After receiving two intakes of nurses, we have filled a high proportion of our vacancies with experienced qualified people”, Laura explains.

When asked what the three main benefits have been, Laura was quick to list the following:

  • Open and honest communication

  • Great calibre of candidates

  • One-to-one support

For SHC, the long-term benefits of working with us are significant. Recruiting in this way means they have control over their vacancies, lower agency costs and more consistency in care.

Since 2019, we’ve placed hundreds of international health and social care professionals from the Philippines, India, Africa, the Caribbean, Australia, the EU and other locations. If you’re an employer experiencing similar challenges to SHC, then please reach out to us as we’re sure we’d be able to help.

For more information, email p.page@sanctuaryhealth.com or call Paul Page on 07944406033.