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Clifton Homecare: Recruiting overseas for social care providers in England

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The challenge

Caroline is the owner of the family run Clifton Homecare business based on the Fylde coast. Clifton Homecare became involved in overseas recruitment as a result of a chance conversation followed by a speculative application. This initial application led to Clifton Homecare recruiting three members of staff from the Philippines who were working together in Dubai.

Clifton Homecare is a small company with no HR department, and the whole process was managed in-house from beginning to end - by Caroline herself. This has not been without its challenges and Caroline described a steep learning curve and some frustrations along the way. Overall, however, the experience of employing overseas workers has been very positive and is now expected to be a significant source of care workers at Clifton in future.

The process

  • The end to end process from applying for a sponsor licence to securing a person in post, in the UK took a long time. The process was started in July and the recruits didn’t arrive until January so it’s important to forward plan and allow time for overseas recruitment to happen.
  • The process of getting the sponsor licence took 11 weeks and there were some issues that had to be overcome. This included getting support from the local MP when the initial application was rejected. Clifton persevered, having to resubmit all of the information again, and were eventually successful. 
  • It can feel like there is duplication at different stages, notably when applying for additional Certificates of Sponsorship when there is a request to provide business plans and organisational information. 
  • The whole process can feel frustrating. There can be long gaps between communications followed by requests for a quick turnaround. 
  • The applicant's visa can take up to three weeks to come through. 
  • Keeping in touch with new recruits throughout the process is important. Clifton Homecare set up a Whatsapp group that helped them keep in touch with each other. She was very clear that they shouldn’t give notice on their jobs in Dubai until everything was in place for them to come to the UK.
  • Securing DBS clearance in advance of the applicant's arrival in the UK was challenging. Clifton use an umbrella company who provided conflicting advice to what was given nationally. Eventually another DBS umbrella company was engaged. The issue was that applicants needed proof of address in the UK. They were able to open Wise bank accounts registered to the address where they would be staying and this enabled DBS checks to be completed.

Duty of care

Duty of care is really important for a successful result. Clifton Homecare have worked hard to help the new recruits settle in. Before they arrived in the UK they arranged a Zoom call with the UK managers to help them get to know each other, the applicants sent bios and photos and these were shared with the whole staff team. Letters were sent to clients informing them of the new recruits and the benefits they would bring to the company.

They met their new recruits from the airport and two are staying with the Registered Manager until they can secure somewhere more permanent to live.

Finding a flat is proving to be a challenge because of local supply issues. Clifton have also purchased an automatic car for one of the new recruits to use and are supporting the other two with learning to drive. The company already had a Filipino member of staff working for them who has helped look after the new recruits and showed them around the area.

Lessons learned

  • This is very do-able for a small organisation
  • Be open-minded
  • take the time to read and understand the guidance;  it can be hard to get your head around and you need to give yourself time and space. The responsibilities that come with holding a sponsor licence are on you as an individual so take them seriously.
  • Plan ahead and allow time
  • Make sure you’ve got everything lined up for the arrival of the recruits so they can hit the ground running
  • Look after your recruits when they arrive and help them settle in.
  • The process is frustrating at first but gets easier as you do it more