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First steps into County Durham care roles

Published July 30, 2020 10.24am


County Durham's newest adult social care workers are settling into their posts following a recruitment drive prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

County Durham Care Academy launched the fast-track recruitment and training programme in April in response to pressures being placed on the sector by the crisis.

The recruitment drive 

More than 200 people expressed an interest in care worker, domestic assistant and kitchen assistant roles, with 32 progressing into work.

We launched the Care Academy last year to support the development of a skilled and valued adult social care workforce in the county.

Its latest recruitment drive, matching applicants to opportunities in their local area, reached more than one million people via social media. The academy also offers remote training and development to provide potential new staff with the skills they will need to access opportunities in the sector.

There are more than 100 independent sector care providers in County Durham, supporting adults with social and physical activities including household tasks, personal care and attending appointments. 

Opportunities are available for anyone wishing to work in adult social care, including those without prior experience. More details can be found on our Care Academy page: We're recruiting people aged 18+ for care sector roles across County Durham to help fight COVID-19 pressures. Regular updates can also be found on County Durham Care Academy on Facebook.

Billy's story 

Billy Coyle

New care worker Billy Coyle outside Devonshire House in West Auckland.

Devonshire House in West Auckland was one of the first care homes to make an appointment through the campaign, taking on new care worker, Billy Coyle, from Bishop Auckland.

Billy was forced to look for a change of a career during the coronavirus pandemic and is enjoying his new career so much he has now enrolled on a level 2 diploma in adult social care with the Care Academy. He said: "I was unemployed, I decided to give it a go and looked it up on the link through to the Care Academy website and filled in my details. There were 12 to 15 units to complete online before my details were circulated to local residential care homes and other companies in the private care sector.

"It took about two weeks to complete all the training. I'm dyslexic so the support I was given through the Care Academy to help me through certain parts of my modules was brilliant. Around a week later I had my interview at Devonshire House then my induction and shadow shifts.

"The transition from my previous roles to this was fantastic - I couldn't ask for a better team. If it wasn't for the Care Academy, I wouldn't have had the specific training online and the basic knowledge to get me started in the care system."

Kathryn Cooper, manager of Devonshire House, said: "Billy came to us with training and DBS checks already in place, which made the recruitment process much quicker and easier. This is a very busy time for the care sector and this recruitment initiative by the Care Academy has certainly helped us. We don't have much time for recruitment at the moment and to know that these candidates have already been vetted by the local authority and received some training is reassuring."

Rewarding roles 

Cllr Lucy Hovvels MBE, Cabinet member for adult and health services, said: "It is fantastic to see and hear how well people are settling into their new roles in the adult social care sector. They're making such a difference to the lives of some of our most vulnerable residents.

"The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the social care sector, but also on many individuals who have lost their jobs as a result of the crisis or who have struggled to earn a wage. The fact that this recruitment drive has supported the needs of both of those groups is a real benefit. It's also a real credit to the sector to hear that some of those new recruits are already looking at developing their skills to become more qualified, highlighting how it can be a very rewarding career."

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