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Recent Key Observations within the Specialist Care Markets


Compass Associates’ Directors Stuart Cousins and Adam Brenton recently discussed their key market observations and any trends occurring within the Specialist Care sector over the last six months.

Director Stuart Cousins heads up the southern team within the Specialist Care division whilst Director Adam Brenton oversees the northern team. Due to their longevity and seniority within Compass Associates, Stuart and Adam recently conveyed their key market observations and any trends occurring within the private and independent healthcare markets over the last six months.

What are the breakdowns of the teams within your division and what markets do they focus on?

Our Specialist care and Education division focusses on Adult Social Care, Supported Living, Mental Health and Specialist Education markets. Typically we recruit from single-site manager level to multi-site and senior appointments. We have consultants that are geographically spread with a clear remit of roles they focus on, this allows them to specialise in a specific workforce, building a network of the best candidates within a market space. With a clinical offering also embedded in the division I am confident that there are no vacancies that our clients have that we couldn’t offer support on.

What were your division’s recruitment market trends over the past six months? If so, what reasons were there for this?

The typical high demand for clinicians ranging from mental health nurses, occupational therapists and psychologists is as high and competitive as its ever been. There has been an increase in demand for Senior Appointments including Education Directors, Hospital Directors and Quality Directors as the industry grows post-Covid.

We have seen a distinctive move away from hospitals and an increase in supported living with providers being particularly keen to acquire properties that can then be converted, offering as much independence as possible to adults with learning disabilities,

Has any of your team members flagged any key observations within their market areas?

Our division has met with over 100 leaders (face-to-face and via Microsoft Teams) in the last 3 months. It is clear that the cost of living increase has had an impact on the retention of support workers. Clients that are looking to recruit in specific areas have been engaging with us to support them with industry trends, looking at not just salary but their offering, values and vision. It has become even more important to consider recruitment processes and the candidate experience – the clients that get all of this right can show considerable success.

We are seeing a distinctive increase in digital and remote work within middle to senior management roles, especially for therapy work as many digital providers are now offering app based therapy which can be undertaken anywhere in the country.

What successes has your division seen as a result of the past six months?

We have completed three scale projects as well as nine confidential senior appointments. Recruitment demand appears to have only increased over the last three months for service managers, regional directors and quality focussed positions. We have also seen an influx of candidates from the NHS and mainstream teaching, typically they will be looking to increase their package, progress in their career, or improve their work environment.

Have you seen demand for support in certain areas within your division due to client demands that have had an impact on team growth and structure?

We have continued to grow as a division increasing our consultant head count by five in the last six months, whilst we are used to a high volume of jobs in a candidate short market we forecast and expect to continue to grow our team in 2023.

What advice would you give to job seekers based on current market conditions?

If you are not happy in your role for whatever reason, there are roles out there for you. It can be quite daunting knowing where to start when seeking a new role, my best recommendation would be to build a relationship with a recruiter who operates in your space to give you advice, market information and guidance on the best companies in the market.

What key observations have you seen in the markets on budgets with the impact of the cost of living?

Leaders are acutely aware of the impact on some of their frontline staff. There are multiple examples of businesses helping their staff with bonuses, pay increases and additional support. Whilst recruitment is important the value of supporting and retaining your staff should not be underestimated.

Have client expectations changed at all? Any demands for a certain skill set at present? What changes have you observed that permanently changed during the pandemic and have never reverted to post-Covid?

Some of our clients have adjusted their interview processes to largely video format (Microsoft Teams / Zoom) this has allowed processes to speed up and be a little slicker. This has been a welcomed change to an industry that is not always the fastest when embracing technological changes.

However, it is important for Teams and Zoom meetings not to replace face-to-face meetings. This is because it is much easier to gain an impression of both the client and candidate and whether they are a mutual fit for each other which you cannot always determine as well via online meetings.

What predictions / plans do you see coming to fruition within the division due to foreseen client expectations and demands?

We would expect 2023 to only increase in competitiveness. We have definitely seen an increase in clients wanting to work in partnership to support all of their proposition. We offered more value added work in the last 12 months than we have ever done, salary benchmarking reports, confidential search, research reports and candidate packs particularly had an increase. We have also supported several clients in understanding and showcasing their ‘story’ to the active and passive job market.

Find out more about Stuart, Adam and the Specialist Care division here

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