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Bury Council, Bury Integrated Care Partnership and UTS: Working collaboratively with system partners and adopting a person-centred approach to recruitment

This case study forms part of the publication, What good looks like: values-based recruitment in adult social care. It showcases working collaboratively with system partners and adopting a person-centred approach to recruitment.

Key points

  • The council has adopted a ‘person-centred approach’ to recruitment and management, with coaching support given to managers to adopt the approach.
  • A One Workforce strategy embodies these values, creating a more joined-up and collaborative approach to workforce development across the health and care system.
  • Using social media creatively and centralising recruitment processes has increased recruitment rates, reduced recruitment timescales and improved the suitability of candidates.


Bury is a metropolitan district of Greater Manchester. It has a population of around 193,000, and is among the top 35 per cent most densely populated local authority areas. Bury is home to 25 home care providers. 51 care homes, and 24 supported living providers. Most providers are small and medium-sized, with only a small number of national or international providers.

What problem did you seek to address?

Bury Council, alongside Bury Integrated Care Partnership (BICP), identified a need to address a range of workforce issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Services were quickly having to adapt in response to constantly changing service needs, but there were gaps in workforce capacity and capability to support this. The council also recognised that they were becoming increasingly reliant on bank staff, with associated cost implications.

During this time, they had established a ‘workforce hub’, where any health or care provider could raise workforce issues. It was through this process that the team realised the benefits of taking a more joined-up approach to addressing recruitment challenges, and how social care could learn from the health sector, as well as vice versa:

Through this process we identified the workforce gaps across the system, but also built relationships with different partners. We have continued to provide that coordination role ever since.” A BICP representative

What did you do?

Bury Council and Bury ICP developed a partnership with Unique Training Solutions (UTS), a training and recruitment partner. The aim of the partnership was to pilot small scale initiatives to drive recruitment, initially using workforce capacity funds made available by the government during the pandemic. Following a period of observation, to fully understand the recruitment challenges, a range of solutions were introduced to improve operational processes and adopt a person-centred approach to recruitment.

This partnership has continued, enabling further initiatives to be introduced, with the support of additional small grants. Key to their work has been the adoption of a person-centred approach, ‘which focuses on the needs, values and ambitions of applicants and employees’:

What we've really found is that people don't often change jobs for pay. It’s more about how well they are looked after, and how they are recruited in the first place… That is the key part of our project really, to put the candidate at the heart of it, bring them into the system, and then just really look after them once they're there.” A UTS representative

'Flipping the process'

The team began by addressing some of the barriers to employment, such as long applications forms. Job descriptions were written to be more engaging, focusing on what job seekers will get if they work for the council, and how they align to people’s values.

The traditional application process was replaced with a single point of contact, hosted by UTS. Job seekers are asked to contact the team directly, “to understand their strengths, their aspirations, where they are with their careers and what they want to do.” They have flipped the recruitment process, so that jobseekers have the initial interview first. They are then matched to current vacancies, and the paperwork (such as DBS checks) is completed when a final interview is arranged with the recruiting manager.

Social media played an important role in modernising the recruitment approach. The Be the difference campaign was launched with the aid of social media platforms, focusing on the value of transferable skills and changing people’s perception of working in care. The campaign featured stories from care workers who started their career in the past 1- 5 years, using ‘day in the life’ and ‘my job’ stories across Instagram “reels’ and TikTok. A joined-up health and social care jobs site was also set up for Bury using Facebook and the BICP website.

Developing managers

The team found that there can be a tendency to focus on recruiting people based on their experience, due to their perceived ability to hit the ground running. It was also felt to be ‘easier’ in terms of initial investment in training requirements. However, their experience showed that this often costs more in the long run, as people will leave if there isn’t a good fit with the culture.

UTS worked with recruiting managers to support the development of their skills, capabilities and mindsets right across the recruitment and management process. This included, for example, work around equality, diversity and inclusion, and how to support managers to recognise the ways in which people from different cultures and backgrounds might demonstrate how they meet the required values. It also involved adapting their recruitment approach to attract more people, for example by becoming a more flexible employer.

'One workforce'

Bury ICP co-produced a locality workforce strategy called ‘One Workforce’, following extensive engagement across the health and care system. The vision is to provide the same experience for its workforce from a recruitment and employment perspective, regardless of role, level or sector (including the voluntary sector). Key to this was adopting a strengths-based approach to understanding the local population and what matters to them most, and applying the same approach to the workforce:

This has come from aligning our approach to recruitment to our strengths-based cultural change programme, with the aspiration that, we fill vacancies with, more suited candidates who are going to stay because they really understand what the job is about, and they really want to be here to make a difference to our local population.” A BICP representative

Who was involved?

  • At the beginning of the process, the team held an engagement event with adult social care providers to understand the key workforce challenges, and co-design and test potential solutions.
  • UTS has become a trusted partner, not only to implement rapid transformation to the recruitment process, but to undertake strategic planning and build strong long-term relationships with partners.
  • BICP is a health and care partnership that enables a collaborative approach to addressing workforce solutions for the benefit of its workforce and population.

What was the impact?

  • The centralisation of the recruitment process has led to a 78 per cent interview to appoint success rate. The costs now average £1,000 per appointment compared to the national average of £3,500.
  • Reducing the barriers to employment, such as the standard application process, has reduced the recrtuiment timescale from 12 weeks to 6 weeks. This means that the council is not losing people due to the length of the process.
  • By engaging providers early on, and seeking to co-design solutions, it means the team has a pool of providers who are instantly ready to test new ideas and approaches.

We’re now moving away from those reactive, process focused interventions, to a more strategic, long-term plan to address some of our workforce challenges. as its going to take a sustained, measured collaborative approach.” A BICP representative

What makes it good?

  • Co-designing solutions: The team didn’t assume that they fully understood the problem, or what would make a difference, but instead involved providers early on in a co-design process to discuss how to use funding.
  • Working systematically: In partnership with UTS, recruitment challenges were closely observed and understood before solutions were developed and implemented. The impact of these solutions was then measured systematically.
  • One workforce approach: The recruitment process has been redesigned to align closely with the One Workforce strategy. This has helped to create a unified and person-centred approach to workforce development across the health and care system, and work more collaboratively than competitively with partners.

Bringing the workforces together and empowering collaborative change. Currently, services across the sectors are highly competitive and rightfully protective of their own staff. Bringing our workforces together helps to identify collective challenges and build collective codesigned solutions.” A UTS representative

Further information


Bury Council


Matthew Logan
Strategic Lead Integrated Commissioning: Provider Development, Contract Monitoring and Complaints, Bury Council,
Email: [email protected]

Emma Arnold
Workforce Transformation Lead, Bury Integrated Care Partnership
Email: [email protected]

Michelle Hillier
Managing Director, Unique Training Solutions,
Email: [email protected]

Emma McNamara
Strategy Director, Unique Training Solutions
Email: [email protected].