As part of his PhD study on the Social Care sector, John Barratt is keeping up to date with Social Care in the news. He will be providing commentary on what these issues mean for the sector and how they are relevant to the study.

Read the full story here.

“This article highlights the imperative need to start tackling the problems that the social care sector is facing. A 1.6 million increase in over 75s by 2022 means now is the time to act before it is too late. This increase in the elderly has the knock on effect of causing a heightened need in the number of care workers required. As shown in the article, Skills for Care projects the number required to be 1 million more by 2025. Without this increase the sector will fall apart. The article also highlights the increase in the number of under 14 year olds. This demonstrates how the stretch on the social care sector is set to continue.

The apprenticeship figures discussed are highly promising. Especially showing that social care has overtaken business in the number of apprentices. In the article the sector figures are quoted as 70,000 apprenticeships in social care in 2013/14, up 292% since 2009/10. This is highly encouraging, and is one way of promoting social care as a career to school leavers. An age group widely cited as being under represented in the sector. This is a hugely exciting time in social care, with the promotion and diversification of a workforce to meet both the demand and needs of service-users.

A hugely important aspect is highlighted in this article that must not be overlooked. There are 30 different apprenticeships available at 3 different entry levels. Furthermore there are 27 different job roles within social care (according to Skills for Care). This is a diverse sector with something to offer in the way of a career to most people. Therefore it needs pushing and showing as an option from an early age, to ensure it is considered a realistic possibility, not just an after thought.

One resounding problem in care recruitment, is how can we ensure the right quality candidates are becoming care workers? And how can we make sure the performance of those selected is consistently high? Moreover, how do we know they won’t just leave the sector within weeks of being trained? This is where the PhD project discussed within these blogs directly addresses and makes positive strides towards overcoming these hurdles.”

You can read more on the PhD study and how it will impact the sector here.

Written by John Barratt, PhD student at Aston University

Over the past few weeks, we’ve spoken to PhD student, John Barratt, about what makes the study so exciting, why it’s important to the sector and what it means to him personally.

This week we asked him why individuals working in the Social Care industry should be excited by the study and what it means for them.

“There are various reasons why individuals within the social care industry should be excited about this research. These reasons will differ from person to person, depending on what their respective role within the sector is.

The main reason to be excited is that this genuinely is ground-breaking research. This research will identify who the right kind of candidates are, what aspects to assess current workers on, and what aspects lead to long tenure. It will look to enhance the recruitment and selection process in care far beyond what is currently available.


This research also has the potential to be a huge cost-saving tool for providers. It will do this by addressing the following:

• Pin-pointing the key factors and traits of prospective candidates
• Highlighting the best assessment strategies
• Providing a robust way of ensuring that workers are being effective

Moreover, it will reveal which workers are not performing as desired and thus provides the opportunity to implement training and development plans to get workers back on track. With these points in mind, it’s clear that this study has the potential to enhance care quality by ensuring the workforce is operating at the right level.

For the provider this research will finally provide them with a tool to assess worker performance. This tool will be a robust and thoroughly tested tool, and the psychometric properties will be sound. Providers will be able to use this reliably to assess worker performance to ascertain if they are performing to the level that is desired.

This research will identify the most effective methods for assessing worker performance as well as what attributes, skills, competencies and traits to look for in candidates. This enhances the selection process and heightens the likelihood of selecting a candidate who will produce high quality performance outcomes.

In terms of recruiting care workers, the study will reveal exactly what attributes lead to effective performance. This may even provide a basis from which a training and development plan can be developed to help employees improve on the areas they are less adept in. Moreover it will provide them with clear performance outcome dimensions that they will be assessed on.

This is hugely beneficial because it will actually enable workers to be more effective. This lets them know what they need to do in order to be effective. There are no hidden aspects or tricks, just a clear path to produce high quality performance outcomes. Therefore, there is potential to enhance the experience and conditions of the workforce.”

For more exciting updates from John, click here.

In the meantime, why not take a look at some of our free Social Care ebooks which further explore the skills shortage, the future of the sector and values-based recruitment.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates!


Written by John Barratt, PhD student at Aston University

As a business we are hugely excited about sponsoring a PhD study. But what’s good about it? What can we all hope to learn from it? And why is it exciting?

This week we talked to John to get the answers to these questions…

“On a personal basis this is a very exciting project to be involved in and one I am very fortunate to be leading. I’ve studied for 4 years and obtained 2 degrees in order to enable myself to undertake a PhD, so this is a huge deal. This opportunity is the dream combination for me. It not only enables me to live out a long held ambition of completing a PhD, it also means working in a very hands-on environment and carrying out some really interesting research.

What really makes this an important project is the impact that this research can have. It is research that will directly impact people’s lives. When thinking about recruitment, you often get caught up thinking about who’s going to be recruited and how it will positively impact the industry, which is tremendously important, but Social Care runs deeper than that.

This project is important because it will impact service-users, and that’s what it all comes down to. Whether it be ourselves, a friend or a relative, most of us will come in to contact with this side of Social Care at some point and we will all benefit from an improved recruitment and selection process.

The area of recruitment and selection has been a passion of mine for a few years now. I have always been interested in this type of work and last year I became a British Psychological Society accredited psychometric test user. This has helped broaden my understanding and leads perfectly into this PhD.

I hope that this opportunity will give me the ability to use all of the various statistical and theoretical techniques I have built up over my years of study. I will especially take great pride in the development of a measurement tool. This is no mean feat and is something of huge significance that will most likely be one of my biggest academic achievements to date.

I am also hugely excited by the prospect of undertaking interviews with care workers. I relish the chance to be able to really get a feel for what the work is like for the workers, what makes them tick and what elements of the job they enjoy, as well as their dislikes. To have the chance to complete research that can have a tangible impact on the jobs and lives of care workers is a great opportunity and a privilege.

Some of the most robust work is research that is undertaken longitudinally and follows participants over time (as oppose to cross-sectional). This type of research, by its nature, is time consuming and hard to do. So again to have the opportunity to do this is great and a really exciting prospect.



Finally, the sector is one that is particularly important to me. This is a sector where the research study to be undertaken can actually impact on the lives of people and make a difference. It is a sector that is largely under researched and one where great strides can be taken. It is a sector that needs to recruit over 1million workers by 2025, and one that often receives a myriad of negative press. I therefore see it as a real opportunity to make a difference and to help tackle some of the challenges that a crucial sector faces going forward.

As previously touched on, I love that this PhD is hands-on and involves active research as opposed to being purely theoretical. I also love that I have the opportunity to work with Cohesion, a successful recruitment company. I am passionate about eventually completing my Chartership and becoming an Occupational Psychologist (as well as doing some consultancy) working with businesses and organisations is something I really relish.

This opportunity has ticked all of the boxes for me.”

For more exciting updates from John, click here.

In the meantime, why not take a look at some of our free Social Care ebooks which further explore the skills shortage, the future of the sector and values-based recruitment.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates!


Written by John Barratt, PhD student at Aston University

This week we talked to John Barratt, our PhD student, about what he’s learnt so far throughout the study

“Coming in to this PhD I had a limited understanding of the Social Care sector, and what I did know was largely based on what was being said in the media. Having been doing the PhD for 8 months now, my knowledge has grown considerably.

I am now aware of just how large a challenge the industry faces going forward, both in the sense of needing to recruit a higher calibre worker in vast numbers whilst continually improving the quality of care. I am also aware of the financial constraints the sector is under and how some providers, when it comes to capacity, are at breaking point.

Moreover, I have learnt how the health sector aligns with social care and how this can cause its own complications. I have also learned about the large array of opportunities that the sector can offer. There are careers within it that I would not have been aware of before I began this PhD. This highlights to me that there is a problem promoting social care as a legitimate career choice.

From a recruitment perspective the social care sector is widely touted to require one million more workers by 2025. This is obviously a huge challenge and an important one. This couples with the challenge that some areas of the country and a number of providers struggle to recruit the carers they require now, never mind the future need they are faced with.

Although there is help and guidance out there for providers with regards to how to undertake recruitment, I believe this can be enhanced, and this is what I hope my PhD can help to provide.

When I first applied for the PhD Cohesion was actually PPS, and it was exciting for me to hear about what caused the rebrand and the huge growth that Cohesion have and are experiencing. It really demonstrates their commitment to recruitment and to social care.

Having spent time over at Cohesion I have had the privilege of experiencing firsthand how they work. Their processes stood out to me because of how thorough they are – their commitment to candidate engagement is incredible. It was great to see how thorough the recruitment team is in explaining the steps and stages of the recruitment journey to candidates.

One thing that especially stood out to me was the caring aspect and personal feel that cohesion provides to candidates.

They really do their best to make them feel that Cohesion is with them every step of the way. But this is applied beyond the candidate – Cohesion work closely with clients and do all they can to ensure their needs are met and exceeded.

Cohesion’s commitment to this PhD and their passion for leading the industry with innovative research will enhance their processes, and hopefully he processes of the industry; they are really setting a golden standard for recruitment in social care.”

During our next catch up, we will be finding out what John wants to learn on a personal basis and what it is that makes this such an exciting study.

For more exciting updates from John, click here.

In the meantime, why not take a look at some of our free Social Care ebooks which further explore the skills shortage, the future of the sector and values-based recruitment.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates on Changing Social Care!


Co-written by John Barratt, PhD student at Aston University

Here at Cohesion, we care about making the difference, not just to our clients, but to the industries they work within.

This is the second in a series of blogs about the PhD student we are sponsoring to carry out cutting edge research on Recruitment and Selection in the Social Care sector:

“This study has been a real eye opener and an amazing opportunity to really make a difference to the Social Care sector. It would be difficult to ram everything I’ve done so far in to one blog, but I’ll give it a good go!

I have been involved in some exciting discussions with both academic lecturers as well as other PhD students from related disciplines. This has helped provide an external viewpoint on the challenge ahead and has provided further areas to read into in a bid to be more thorough in the groundwork to build from.

The biggest chunk of work I have undertaken so far is a very in-depth literature review to ascertain the current status of the field and get an understanding of what has previously been researched. This has helped me get to know the sector as a whole, and to identify how under researched the area really is.

This has been hugely insightful as there is a real need to look beyond the social care literatures and to broaden scope to encompass allied fields such as medical and nursing orientated research. The reason for this is that, although the professional literature is rich with information and guidance such as Skills for Care and the Kings Fund research; the academic based literature is sparse and there is a real lack of research.

Furthermore, the research that does exist is often orientated largely towards elderly social care and thus neglects the other niche facets. The reason why it is appropriate to broaden scope to allied fields is because these fields contain elements common to Social Care, such as the need for compassion and empathy in its workers (a large part of this really does come down to the people). Moreover, it provides elements to incorporate in the research going forward to look to see if these aspects can be fruitful in the Social Care sector.

This has also provided a large array of variables that are potentially worth examining. These range from competency dimensions, to personality traits, to attributes and skills. Additionally I have been able to read and research the emerging technique of values-based recruitment, which is being touted and pushed as the way forward in Health and Social Care industries (read more about values-based recruitment and how it could work for you and your business in this free ebook.) Beyond this, a fundamental aspect has been to get to grips with what the contingencies to recruitment are within the social care sector.

More specifically, what aspects are causing recruitment to be difficult, what aspects impact turnover, the applicant pool, and what may attract workers to the sector? This has been a hugely fruitful search.

The latest aspect of my work (which is an ongoing colossal task) is the development and refining of the model that will be examined going forward. This has required careful theorising and decisions on what the key aspects are. This, going forward, will hopefully be discussed within a focus group with Cohesion and key stakeholders. This will allow me to get an industry viewpoint on the model and the key outcomes that they see as essential.

So far, this review has allowed me to look at the state of the field, the gaps in the literature, and given me ideas on how to address these issues.

Basically, this is the road map that sets out where we are going and, more importantly, how we are going to get there! As well as what the outcome will be from this project.

This is a hugely exciting and innovative study, nothing of this sort has ever been done before and I am hopeful that the impact on the sector will be great.”

During our next catch up, we will be finding out what John has done so far and what he’s learnt about Social Care as a sector and recruitment as a practice.

For more exciting updates from John, click here.

In the meantime, why not take a look at some of our free Social Care ebooks which further explore the skills shortage, the future of the sector and values-based recruitment.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates on Changing Social Care!



Co-written by John Barratt, PhD student at Aston University


Here at Cohesion, we are hugely passionate about the Social Care sector. Not only do we partner with clients in the industry to recruit the right people, but we actively seek new ways to positively impact the industry as a whole.

We are very excited to have partnered with an elite University, Aston Business School, and have funded a PhD student to carry out an insightful study that could change the face of recruitment in the sector.  We launched this at a roundtable event in January.

This is the first in a series of blogs, written by John Barratt, who is carrying out the study, that will tell the story of this exciting research and what it means for the sector:

“The UK care sector is rapidly growing and finds itself in a position of requiring a million new workers by 2025. Couple this with the fact that it is becoming increasingly scrutinised in terms of the effectiveness and conduct of care workers and this is an important area to consider.

These two problems have led to businesses and organisations in the sector being faced with the dual challenge of fast paced recruitment to meet business growth needs and turnover, alongside continual demand to improve quality of recruitment and selection.
To date there exists no specific study of effective recruitment and selection practice in the UK care sector. It is therefore timely to initiate such a research study, which will:

• Add research data to the recruitment, selection and assessment literatures from this important area of practice, and
• Result in specific and high-impact recommendations for practice of recruitment and selection in the sector.
The above creates four main aims for the present research going forward:

1) Carry out an extensive literature review of the social care sector literatures; this entails both the academic and professional literatures. This will help develop an understanding of what is currently known about the sector and what the gaps that need addressing are

2) Empirical Study 1: Modeling and Measuring Carer Effectiveness

The first study will seek to establish performance criteria and methods of measurement for carers (given the absence of a performance taxonomy or instrument currently).
The study will follow steps in scale design to develop and test a set of rating items that can be used by managers, supervisors and others to rate the performance of carers. This will consequently create a tool to quantify effective performance of care workers. The resulting tool can then be used as an outcome measure when looking to identify what aspects, characteristics, competencies, etc. of an individual lead to effective performance.

3) Empirical Study 2: Understanding Reasons for Turnover and Tenure among Carers

A qualitative study will be undertaken to understand the reasons that people stay or leave jobs as carers. It is important that recruitment and selection in the care sector seeks to balance achievement of two success outcomes: quality and performance on one hand, and tenure/stability on the other. By understanding some of the contributing factors to tenure versus turnover in the sector, recruitment and selection strategies can be developed around these criteria, so that employers can mitigate against the potential costs of frequent turnover.
This aim will look to identify these factors through interviews with employees (mixture of leavers and long-tenure).

4) Empirical Study 3: A Longitudinal Study of Recruitment and Selection Effectiveness

The main study in this doctoral research will be an 18-month longitudinal study of the effectiveness of different recruitment and selection techniques.

The study will look to be undertaken across multiple care providers, using data compiled from carers recruited during the study period. Various methods will be used and different types of data obtained. The main aims and outcomes that will be identified through this research study are:

• The techniques of recruitment and selection that work most effectively in different organisations.
• The effectiveness (validity) of recruitment and selection methodology for predicting different outcome criteria.
• Changes in the validities of different techniques for predicting criteria over time.”

During our next catch up, we will be finding out what John has done so far and why it’s important.

For more exciting updates from John and Changing Social Care, click here.

In the meantime, why not take a look at some of our free Social Care ebooks which further explore the skills shortage, the future of the sector and values-based recruitment.


Co-written by John Barratt, PhD student at Aston University