Case study: Surrey Heartlands Integrated Care System (ICS) tackles workforce challenges through partnership working and talent strategy

Case study summary:

People in Surrey are being encouraged to consider a career in social care and health, thanks to a collaborative strategy shaped by partners across the system.


Surrey Heartlands ICS

What was the aim:

The Surrey Heartlands Workforce Alliance is modernising the way the system recruits and retains adult social care staff by offering fulfilling career opportunities to new recruits and investing in their development.

This alliance is a partnership of health and care providers in Surrey, including Surrey Heartlands Integrated Care Board (ICB), Surrey County Council, the Surrey Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Alliance and the Surrey Care Association (SCA).

It aims to increase the number of people working in health and care and reduce the number of skilled staff leaving the workforce for other sectors due to low pay and the constraints of public sector budgets.

What was the solution:

Surrey County Council’s adult social care directorate and Surrey Heartlands ICB have jointly established a £6 million workforce innovation fund to improve the recruitment, retention, skills and capacity of the social care and health workforce as part of the United Surrey talent strategy.  

The fund is overseen by a panel made up of members of the alliance. They support VCSE organisations and independent providers, who are often smaller and may lack resources, to develop bids for funding. This collaborative environment means the panel also give feedback during development phase, so bidders can review the potential impact and benefits for health and social care staff from their new project – which their bid will be scored against.

What were the challenges:

Low sector wages for the area, limits in public sector finances and limited professional training & development opportunities are making it difficult to recruit and retain care and support staff at adult social care providers in Surrey. This leads to staff not seeing social care work as a long-term, desirable career path.

What were the results:

Multiple new projects will be piloted as part of funding from the Workforce Innovation Fund.

The Health and Social Care Academy works closely with the four place-based health and social care alliances in Surrey. The Surrey Care Association and Surrey VCSE Alliance will give insight into the local needs and priorities for training and development, to best support their population.

The academy, now in pilot phase, will give a ‘single point of access’ to learning and development opportunities for adult social care staff. They will work collaboratively with the education sector to remove inconsistencies in roles and statutory and mandatory training. They will jointly commission development opportunities for the workforce so that development is prioritised and meets local needs.

In Guildford and Waverley, the alliance will explore how to diversify careers and retain staff by developing career development pathways for new recruits.

Staff were leaving for other jobs outside the area, often because of a lack of opportunities for rotation. New staff will begin to be offered two roles along a career pathway at the same time. This is as part of a career guarantee, with a secure promotion if they complete a programme of training and assessment within their first 12 months. This shows the system’s commitment to their colleagues’ developing careers and is being rolled out across the whole ICS.

A similar Nursing Associates programme will also be developed that includes rotations in both health and social care settings – with support for the participants to secure a permanent position in their preferred setting at the end.

The alliance’s talent strategy for year one is: engaging with one another to agree their joint vision and relevant objectives for each workstream, making use of networks and events to share, learn and test their ideas together, and building a vision of what processes need to be in place long-term.

What were the learning points:

Creating the innovation fund has enabled teams within the system to support one another and try new projects which are testing proof of concepts identified in the talent strategy.

Project funding was allocated in late 2022, and the system expect to see the outcomes in mid-2023.

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