One of the country’s biggest social care providers says it is facing a “recruitment crisis” and having to resort to advertising positions on billboards.
Praxis Care is marking 15 years looking after some of the most vulnerable people in Ireland. The company employs 580 staff in Ireland and supports 350 adults and children at its designated centres.
The organisation is now recruiting additional staff to provide residential, respite, day service and home support services across six locations for 65 adults with autism, but is having to “jump through hoops” to get staff in.
Director Carol Breen told the Irish Independent: “We’ve never had an issue with recruitment before and never had to use agencies, but in the last six months we’ve seen that we’ve had to do things we previously didn’t have to in order to bring staff into the
“I think the pandemic has definitely had an impact. People were getting comfortably paid while out of work, and that has been an acute issue. Those with underlying conditions and those who were pregnant were understandably not wanting to come into work also.
“There has definitely been a drop in applications. You have to advertise more times to bring in the same number of applications and have to advertise in more innovative ways to attract the applicants.”
Praxis has held assessment days in Wexford, Dublin and Cork, done leaflet drops advertising jobs and bought radio adverts.
The process of hiring staff has become more time-consuming and costly.
“There is a wide misconception that people who work at Praxis Care need medical qualifications. This is not the case,” Ms Breen said. “We need people who know how to relate to others – who have the right values and the desire to care for those who need support.”
Ireland is not the only country experiencing recruitment issues in the care sector.
In the UK, a recent report outlined how 430,000 people had quit jobs in the sector between 2019 and 2020.
They cited issues such as burnout and poor working benefits.
Ms Breen said that for the social care sector to become more attractive to workers, the Government needed to invest.
“Praxis acknowledges it is very difficult for us to compete with organisations who fall under Section 38 [larger agencies paid by the HSE] when it comes to terms and conditions. There has to be investment or we won’t be able to recruit staff unless we are going to be funded,” she said.
Social care bodies fall under Section 39. They are funded by the HSE to deliver healthcare disability and social services to vulnerable individuals, but their employees do not have the status of public servants.
“The challenges for Praxis Care, as for any other social care provider, is ensuring that this approach to care in the community is supported by everybody including neighbours and local groups,” Ms Breen said.
“What differentiates Praxis Care from other providers of social care is the individualisation that goes into the care packages which we devise for each person.”
Praxis Care’s 2025 strategy shows further growth in its provision of services in Ireland. Earlier this year the organisation was appointed to operate the Cork Association for Autism services.
There are currently a wide range of vacancies yet to be filled.
“The single biggest challenge we face is recruitment. This is not just unique to our sector, it is happening across the board and Covid-19 really has had an impact,” Ms Breen said.
“I think perhaps when the Government payments and PUP payments come to an end, maybe the issue will be resolved.
“We feel people have reassessed life at home and maybe they are reevaluating coming into the workforce and we won’t know the outcome of that until later on.
“The pandemic emphasised how important social care is and has given recognition to the work. It is a rewarding job.”