Written evidence submitted by Mr David Mallon (RTR022)



  1. The purpose of this submission is to give a viewpoint that perhaps committee members have not considered previously. That is of a domiciliary care company owner. Ms. Rachel Clements of Forget Me Not Home Care Services Ltd. This is a local care provider based in Morpeth, Northumberland and covers the area between Alnwick and South East Northumberland. The reason in doing so is so that the committee can hear from a person with first-hand experience in the sector.


  1. Ms. Clements has had over 30 years of experience in various roles within the domiciliary care sector and over 3 years as an owner and registered manager of a domiciliary care company. My family came into contact with her about 8 months before she founded Forget Me Not in 2018 while she worked as a carer in the company that looked after my grandmother before moving with her when she founded the company. While in that role she developed a close relationship with us and in particular my grandmother who even referred to her as her ‘adopted daughter’. It is my view that she is an excellent source to provide evidence to the committee as she has a wide range of experience with these roles and can help the committee become more aware of what could be done to help encourage recruitment and retention within the sector.


  1. This submission focuses on the following questions in the call of evidence:


a.     What are the main steps that must be taken to recruit the extra staff that are needed across the health and social care sectors in the short, medium and long-term?


b.     To what extent are the contractual and employment models used in the health and social care sectors fit for the purpose of attracting, training, and retaining the right numbers of staff with the right skills?


c.      What is the correct balance between domestic and international recruitment of health and social care workers in the short, medium and long term?



Section a

  1. Ms. Clements and myself, first discussed within this section about the situation pertaining to DBS checks with issues relating to stage 4, in which police staff are required to complete full background checks, however due to reduction in funding and staffing over the last 12 years there is a lack of resources on the part of the police services to complete these. This creates a backlog in applicants being processed and eventually taken on by care providers.


  1. A solution Ms. Clements came up with was that the government could create a database specifically focused upon DBS checks, within this it will have all applicants who have been through the process with all the information available for employers to check rather than having to go through this process repeatedly. An interesting point raised by Ms. Clements was that this database could in fact aid not only the health and social care sector but many others that also requires these checks. This would mean if an applicant changed sectors for a new job then this could speed the entire application process up both for the potential employee but also the employer.


  1. Ms. Clements informed me of a scheme Northumberland County Council awarded to care providers in which staff employed between the 3rd of December 2021 and March 31st 2022 would be entitled to an extra £1.50 in April 2022 for each qualifying hour of work in that period. Care staff would be given a spreadsheet to complete how many hours they had worked and the millage along with travel time between calls. Her view on this matter was that extra pay was welcome however this did not take into account tax and other deductions meaning that it would not equate to £1.50.


  1. She was disappointed by the time frame given as her staff had worked throughout these past 2 years in the pandemic without complaint doing their duty without any previous appreciation shown, while the NHS workers for example in 2021 were given a £200 hamper. She ensured her staff did not go without by giving gifts to show this appreciation, this was from her own pocket rather than the local authority. In addition to this, the bonus scheme previously mentioned was for all those care staff employed between the given dates regardless of when they had joined the company before those dates which felt like there no appreciation again for those who had worked hard from the onset of the pandemic 2 years ago.


  1. Alongside this, she expressed disapproval that this scheme did not cover office staff who had worked extremely hard alongside their carer counterparts and without which the company would not have managed as they took on roles of manning the phone lines and the general upkeep of the company. The council also had included a clause which stated that the more private contracts taken on by a company, the council reserved the right to withhold full to partial payment if it is not within the level of the government grant. This meant that a care company dependent upon the private contracts they had taken on would take a drop in their finances. This impacted smaller care companies greater than larger national ones.


  1. Ms. Clements presented a document which was provided to her by the council which informed her of the council creating a backdated payment scheme of the national living wage from an award of £1 million given by the government. This council scheme would be dated between December 1st 2021 and March 31st 2022. The scheme gives the increased national living wage of £9.50, 4 months in advance of coming into effect in April 2022. This however, she informed me would not help staff who are on benefits such as universal credit due to the cap on earnings meaning some staff would miss out or face sanctions on their benefits due to this increase.


  1. What could have been done with this scheme, is pay for the yearly cost of recruiting and training new staff which Ms. Clements showed me via a document outlining the costs at £3642 per recruit which if used in this way could have paid for the recruitment and training of an additional 274 members of staff for care companies in the county of Northumberland. This would have greatly aided in increasing staff numbers in the sector alongside taking the costs burden from care providers in light of the pandemic.


Section B

  1. Ms. Clements came up with the idea due to the bad reputation associated with the health and social care sector that CQC could be remodelled into a system that rates companies based upon their staff retention, recruitment and continuous personal development. This would be a better system in her view because it provides potential recruits an insight into whether or not the company they apply is a good employer and if it would suit their development as professionals.


  1. She informed me in terms of recruiting carers with the right skills, that arguably comes to staff as they develop further in their carer role not necessarily at the onset. Additional funding would be needed to do this continuously rather than looking at employing those who have these skills as clients have different needs meaning one carer good with one client doesn’t translate as them being good with all clients, it takes experience with them to translate into the right skills.


  1. In addition to performing their roles as carers, the pandemic has caused them to take on new roles providing in addition to domiciliary care, clinical care due to the demands placed upon NHS nurses in these hard times. Forget Me Not had to pair up their junior carers with senior carers who could perform these procedures. The reason being, that there have been a lack of nurses to train up the junior staff. If this was not done then clients would have went without care. An example of these procedures would be peg feed and suction. Payment for these packages are not enhanced meaning that the company is given money by the council that equates to the same value as providing personal care such as getting out of bed and dressed in a morning.


  1. In her opinion, a new model should be implemented whereby, the training of staff is done via the NHS and taken from it’s budget so as to have a well-qualified and capable work force in the domiciliary home care sector. This would mean staff from these companies would go to 6 week NHS training induction with English and Maths being taught alongside this. Again she brought up the idea of a database showcasing what has been achieved and gives the information and details of those who have taken part so that companies can contact them to offer a job. She pointed out however, that this could benefit the NHS more than care companies as they would be able take from this pool of recruits too. She highlighted this to be an existing issue whereby the care company will pay the previously mentioned yearly cost for new recruits, only for them to then progress further by joining the NHS which means the money used to train is not given back to the company so that they are not out of pocket or unable to train others to follow on.


  1. Ms. Clements gave me an account of how the pandemic has also exacerbated the issues this committee is looking at as the information given by the government relating to lockdowns have been lacking at times. For example in the last lockdown carers were paid statutory sick pay when having to go into isolation from day one. However at present, this is no longer the case and while Forget Me Not has reassured staff they will be able to will substitute the loss of income for having to go into isolation but for those carers who have completed this but have dependents who may have isolate afterwards, the company cannot pay for this extra absence due to being short staffed.

Section C

  1. Finally, Ms. Clements informed me at present it is a minefield for care companies particularly small local ones rather than the larger national care providers to look into hiring staff from abroad when it is required or there is a shortage in the local region. This includes applying for a licence where the owner will require a third party to help with the application as well as the monies to pay for it. Again this could be done via a database for those already gone through the process and ready to come and start working over here from abroad. Companies could also be given renumeration on this £2000 license so that they are sponsoring the person but also not out of pocket from this. Additionally with this database if set up it can mean that reliable and ethically acceptably trained staff can be brought and trusted into the care sector.



January 2022