Circle Insights

Tackling the staffing shortage in elderly care with local population data

Tom Clarke

Pay is only one factor that influences the number and quality of candidates for your roles, and their loyalty.

It’s no secret that staffing is an ongoing challenge for most providers of elderly care. Market competition doesn’t only come from other care settings. Potential staff may be looking for local work in a range of sectors locally, where hourly pay is higher and the responsibilities seem less demanding. How can you compete to attract and retain quality staff for your elderly care services?

Take a targeted approach to recruitment and retention by applying marketing principles

Traditionally, elderly care providers have used their instincts to decide on good locations for their residential or in-home care operations. In recent years, some have made good use of market data to investigate and understand their potential customer base. By looking at the age and affluence of potential care clients in their catchment area, savvy operators can anticipate the level of need, design the right services and price them competitively. Today, we’re advocating the same approach, to understand staffing supply and demand.

In our work with a few forward-thinking, large-scale elderly care providers, we’ve helped them to factor in staffing availability when looking for new sites or deciding whether expand operations in an existing location. There’s a great opportunity for mid-sized operators to take advantage of the same approach.

Using local market insight and benchmarking to identify potential staff

Using demographic and location data, we can:

  • Profile the demographic characteristics of ideal candidates for elderly care roles
  • Contrast them to the Acorn profiles of typical users of the elderly care services
  • Flag high-risk locations likely to face the biggest staffing challenges
  • Highlight areas of demographic overlap, with a strong potential customer base and staffing base
  • Identify the best catchment areas to recruit suitable candidates
  • Analyse the likely needs and priorities of available candidates in the area

Contextual dynamics in practice: understanding local recruitment landscapes

Our current work with elderly care providers is commercially sensitive. So, we’re using an example from a different care sector with a very similar recruitment and retention challenge – children’s nurseries.

Our client told us that recruitment challenges are hampering business performance – they had had to close some sites because of a lack of staff. They needed to factor the potential to recruit into acquisition decisions. We profiled 11,000 staff members in 400 nurseries in the UK to discover their Acorn groups and identifies primary and secondary target staffing groups. We mapped nurseries in their locations, showing where the customer base and the staff base overlapped. This helped our client tailor recruitment messaging to available local staff priorities. They could plan to expand their service provision in locations where they knew they could recruit to meet demand.

Modelling the recruitment potential for new and existing locations

The approach is not only relevant for new elderly care locations and investment. By understanding the local employment landscape, you can recruit in a more targeted and effective way and find out what matters to the people you’d like to employ, so you can shape working practices and promote aspects of the role that will be most appealing.

Location and mobile app data can you help you focus recruitment in areas where there are candidates who can easily access your sites and domestic clients. Your potential staff don’t necessarily live on the doorstep but there may be nearby areas that have good transport links, where workers already tend to travel from.

Offering roles that local employees want to take

Of course, pay is a very important factor when it comes to attracting competent and committed staff. Premium elderly care operators may be able to pay staff more and offer a more luxurious workplace. But these are not the only things that influence employees. You can provide other, affordable benefits and mould your working environment and employee programmes to match what workers really value. Profiling target candidates in your local area can help you understand their priorities – from family-friendly working hours to free lunches and incentive programmes.

Beyond pay and benefits – understanding the appeal of elderly care roles

Working in elderly care is a socially responsible job. For some candidates, recognition of the value of their work can be a strong motivator. Creating better career paths and more tangible pathways for carers can make a big difference to your recruitment. Some larger elderly care operators are trying to emulate nursing pathways: clear role definition and progression can help to retain committed staff. If you understand more about the potential candidates in your area and your existing staff, you can decide whether this approach could support recruitment and retention for one or more locations.

CACI’s specialist elderly care and senior living team works with clients in the UK to help them improve operational and financial performance with access to vital insights into their customers, employees and locations. To find out more, contact us.


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Tom Clarke