The Care Xchange is a new approach to engaging carers, co-designed by local authorities working with leading technical developers and employment experts.
By combining a digital and an on-the-ground approach, the Care Xchange is a proactive, flexible approach to carer recruitment. It engages both with trained carers either working in or outside the sector, as well as encouraging people who might not have thought of caring as a career option into the sector.
The Labour Xchange is a proven digital platform that addresses employment – and for the first time the millions of people in the UK who are ‘underemployed’ – from a different angle. Rather than the current system whereby employers state the times and skills that a job requires, via the Labour Xchange people confirm when they are available and what their skills are, to then be matched up with employment opportunities.
This means that those people who are care givers (either as parents or caring for a relative), those who have taken early retirement, people on zero hours contracts, students or people who simply want to work part-time can be brought into employment in a flexible but sustainable way.
The platform already works successfully in the logistics and hospitality sectors and with the support of North Yorkshire County Council and Sunderland City Council has been repurposed to address the care sector. Specifically in the first phase the project looked at growing the pool of carers and supporting self-funders.
The collaboration was driven from a number of angles:
- The need to address the growing carer shortage
- Need to train and upskill people and provide employment opportunities – not only in care – but more widely
- An acknowledged lack of oversight of the self-funder market
- A desire to proactively engage with communities around employment and economic growth
- Seeking to support a more holistic, personalised, longer term vision for care more widely
- Using a proven platform and engagement model this project adapted an existing approach via council co-design rather than starting from scratch, which reduces duplication, is more cost effective and gets everyone to their goal more quickly
DISCOVERY PHASE & CO-DESIGN WORKSHOP
Whilst there was a lot covered in the day, there were some interesting headline findings to come out:
- By sharing their challenges & working practices North Yorkshire, Sunderland and Labour Xchange agreed on a common approach & design
- There are a lot of manual tasks or steps in the current process that can be made digital to be more efficient
- Areas such as employer status of self funders, legislation and relationship management all need to be addressed in detail
- Confirmation of the ideal reporting requirements which will give councils better sight of the self funding market and potentially feed into wider ASC commissioning practice
- The platform will improve the availability and utilization of carers, plus increase skills and training
Labour Xchange worked through the discovery phase outputs to design and build the Care Pathway. In parallel with this, they began the candidate engagement process in both Sunderland and North Yorkshire, each having different approaches due to their urban/rural differences.
Following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on local authorities, this project took on an additional level of importance in the effort to ensure there were enough carers to support people safely and appropriately in their own homes.
With the Care Pathway now built, final adjustments and enhancements were made to the user journey – including the addition of a candidate questionnaire based on ‘A Question of Care’ from Skills for Care. The platform was piloted in both rural and urban areas in Autumn 2020. As carers are key workers, the platform ensured new carers were COVID-19 compliant and safe, and supported access to PPE.