The award-winning, specialist care provider Cornerstone Healthcare, said the scheme had been introduced to tackle the effects of a sector-wide problem of recruitment and retention.
Waterlooville-based Cornerstone runs specialist nursing facilities across Hampshire and Surrey, with new homes due to open in Somerset in 2022 Bristol at the end of 2023. The bonus scheme is regarded as the first of its kind, offering up to five per cent of annual salary for all hours worked, including overtime, which is completely uncapped. This differs from the more standard sector practice of offering welcome bonuses to staff, or capped bonuses annually.
The new scheme was rolled out to all the group’s nurses alongside a five per cent pay rise for day nurses, and an eight per cent pay rise for night nurses, earlier this month. The latest pay increase puts the average nursing salary at Cornerstone at around £46k, compared to around £28k for a similar role within the NHS. For a nurse on an entry level salary, working on average 25hrs a month overtime, this could result in annual gross pay of around £54,600.
No room for complacency
Cornerstone CEO Johann van Zyl believes the attractive remuneration packages make a big difference to their recruitment and retention efforts, but believes that continually improving pay and bonuses across the sector is ‘unsustainable’ as a means of addressing the staffing crisis. He commented: “We are fortunate to be in a position to reward our staff for their dedication and hard work in this way, particularly after such a challenging period. We know that employees that feel appreciated are more likely to stay with us, and that is a long-term commitment; but we are also not complacent about the scale of the recruitment and retention crisis.
“The sector is facing an unprecedented challenge. It employs around 1.5 million people, but the number of vacancies is 120,000 and growing. This is felt more than ever in the South/South East where there is a higher density of care homes. For staff working in care, particularly in facilities with proportionately bigger staffing challenges, this means they need to do more work in less time, and it creates a lot of pressure. When this happens, often no amount of financial incentive would be enough to retain employees who want to leave their job, or even leave the sector completely.”
Cautious welcome for Government care plans
The latest government social care proposals have been cautiously welcomed by many in the care profession, with various recruitment and retention measures outlined; however, critics say these will not address the urgent and immediate workforce crisis. Recommendations across the sector include adding care workers to the shortage occupation list, calling on the government to launch a national recruitment campaign, and introducing a retention bonus to care staff.
van Zyl concluded: “The staff shortage will get more acute in the coming months, as issues posed by Brexit, mandatory COVID vaccinations, and increased competition for employees post lockdown are compounded. This is in addition to an increasing number of vulnerable adults needing care in the UK. Care providers must do what they can to support and reward their staff, but we appreciate the scale at which this is possible varies – and it doesn’t address the critical need for urgent and widespread reform.”
For more information about the scheme, which would give nurses a minimum bonus of over £2,000 per year, click here.