On April 1st Brighton & Sussex Care signed up to the Living Wage Campaign here in Brighton making a huge statement about pay in this challenging sector. We interviewed Craig Jones, CEO of Brighton & Sussex Care to find out how he achieved paying a living wage for his team.
How long have you worked in the Care sector?
Having had a military career for over 20 years I then worked in the city on key projects leading on diversity, inclusion, human rights and became a workplace disability expert. With 2 other Directors we set up Brighton & Sussex Care 4 years ago and between us we have over 75 years experience in the field.
Why do people choose to work in this sector?
Our staff have an innate sense of vocation, usually because they have experienced in some way how rewarding and essential proper care in the community is. We employ people with a wide range of backgrounds, some with vocational experience and others who are graduates and arrive here with a related degree in Social Care or Psychology. The career path we put them on ensures that they have rewarding careers which grow with the company. We offer many opportunities to develop personally and professionally.
Why do companies in this sector traditionally pay less than the living wage?
There is a huge pressure to reduce costs in adult social care and some companies try to address this by reducing their highest cost, which is the salaries they award to their main assets. The consequence of this can be that ultimately poor pay results in service users experiencing levels of support which are below standard. Staff retention is poor and hiring and training costs go up and savings are made in the wrong areas. Our mission at Brighton & Sussex Care is to employ people on a living wage and upwards so that we recruit and retain our staff ensuring consistency and quality service. To date this has worked very well. We have below 5% staff turnover.
In just four years you have become one of Kemptown’s largest employers. What are the secrets to your success?
Firstly we invest in our people as they are our greatest asset. Retention is everything here and putting our people first works. When people are paid and managed well they are loyal, do a great job, enjoy coming to work and sickness levels are low. We have a very good sickness record because we address any support issues straight away. Caring is a very stressful job and we ensure our staff know that we take this into consideration and always have support when they need it. We also run our business on a very lean budget, our focus is on the people not on the resource. The result of this is that we have a very happy staff team. Referrals come to us because we have a high success rate – which is partly because we reward our people fairly.
What needs to happen to make the care sector and its delivery better?
I think some Directors in other care companies might not be looking far enough down the telescope. In 2010 we put together a long term business plan and it has worked. Instead of looking at short term costs we took a longer term view on the way we employ people and therefore overall our staffing costs are lower because we do not spend time on recruitment training and sickness levels. We are still benefiting from the brave decisions we made 4 years ago. At Brighton & Sussex Care we need to deliver the right support at the right time, first time and every time and that can only be achieved by paying people what they are worth, and making them feel valued within the structure they are in. It’s simply not fair to expect people to meet the enabling costs of employment. Quite simply, the living wage makes good business sense for our sector and every sector.
About Brighton & Sussex Care
Brighton & Sussex Care is an award winning care service that offers a unique combination of outstanding community support, therapy, support to individuals with learning disabilities and those with enduring mental health needs. The team at Brighton & Sussex Care plan, co-ordinate and deliver individual support for every person who uses their services, enabling each person to live as independently as possible in their own homes, in a community setting. Their aim is to provide trained and experienced staff to support service users who may have been in long-term care environments to live independently in the community of Brighton and Sussex. The majority of their service users and tenants have mental health difficulties, learning disabilities, or are recently discharged from hospital.
About the Social Care Campaign
In October 2013 Citizens UK launched the Social Care Campaign, a new movement to improve every element of social care in this country and achieve a better deal for care recipients and care workers in our communities. An important element of the Social Care Campaign is that everyone in this sector is paid the living wage.