Resetting the relationship between local and national government. Read our Local Government White Paper

HealthConex: Recruiting overseas for social care providers in England

Ronan Carolan set up HealthConex, which specialises in recruiting nurses and care staff to the UK and Ireland, and, having seen a wide variety of practice within the industry, he was driven by a desire to recruit ethically and see candidates as clients, not commodities.

View allAdult social care articles

The challenge

Ronan Carolan set up HealthConex three and a half years ago after 20 years working in recruitment within education and healthcare.

HealthConex specialises in recruiting nurses and care staff to the UK and Ireland.

Having seen a wide variety of practice within the industry, he was driven by a desire to recruit ethically and see candidates as clients, not commodities.

We consider ourselves to be Trusted Partners with the hospitals, nursing and care homes that we work with, understanding their unique work cultures and supporting long term employee retention, through achieving the best candidate-client fit”.

He has a keen focus on how key touchpoints are managed in a way that places the applicant experience at the centre. “People can be desperate to leave their country”, says Ronan, “and that leaves them vulnerable to unscrupulous practice”.

The solution

HealthConex fully subscribe to the World Health Organisation Global Code of Practice for International Recruitment meaning they do not actively recruit from red list countries nor do they charge individuals fees for finding a role.

Ronan charges a flat rate fee of £1,000+VAT to recruit carers into social care. His team look after all the onboarding and compliance side of things for recruiting organisations such as ensuring visa requirements are met, that candidates have the required level of English language and the right health clearances. They offer a full 360 degree recruitment service, managing the candidate journey from start to finish.

Unusually, HealthConex refund the fee if the person recruited leaves within the first 12 months. This guarantee creates a real incentive to work alongside employers to ensure that they are proactive in putting a comprehensive support package in place because well-supported staff are more likely to stay. Most clients offer:

  • the first four weeks accommodation costs
  • meet and greet at the airport on arrival
  • payment of Certificate of Sponsorship fee
  • many also pay visa charges
  • support to settle on arrival.

How is the approach being sustained

HealthConex have a strong focus on building meaningful long-term relationships with their clients and get alongside them to try to ensure the experience is as good as it can be for everyone involved. This includes supporting and advising on the SMS licensing process and ensuring clients operate at all time in line with UKVI compliance.

Lessons learned

For any employers new to overseas recruitment, Ronan offers some simple advice.

Invest in a great administrator to manage the sponsorship management system and always make sure costs and fees are clearly communicated and transparent to everyone involved. You maybe ethical but third parties liaising with candidates on your behalf, sometime are less so!"

As a result of the requirement to pay carers £10.10 per hour. Healthconex is seeing salaries uplift as a result of this requirement with more companies being willing to pay carers at this rate.

This in turn is likely to have a knock on impact on uplifting senior care worker salaries. For other companies, they build flexibility into contracts to require staff to work nights and days which provides justification for paying at this higher rate.

Ultimately, the unsustainable costs associated with agency staffing will continue to drive the pay rates for permanent health care workers, however as Ronan points out, “ We are seeing increasingly more skilled carers, senior carers and care team leaders coming in from abroad with better qualifications and relevant experience. It is a great time to be working in this profession”.