Solving the worker shortage with overseas recruits

Care provider Concept Care goes to extra lengths to help new employees to immigrate to Australia and start a new life. Disability care workers recruited from India, Nepal, the Philippines, Nigeria and Tonga have been sponsored and assisted with visa requirements, travel, accommodation and other support to smooth the way into a new career in Australia, the company says. Concept Care helps migrating recruits to set up bank accounts and obtain driver’s licences, and it says it even offers interest-free loans to new international employees. Recruitment can lead to residency in Australia and, eventually, Australian citizenship.

Concept Care general manager Dean Jones says a shortage of skilled and suitable disability dare workers in Australia drove the company to recruit overseas, and currently just under 30 per cent of the company’s 200 or so care worker employees are international recruits. International recruitment is ongoing.

“It’s a big investment financially to bring in people from overseas,” Jones says. “We need to make sure they’re the right people, who will give the best care and support to our clients.”

Qualifications and experience in disability care are not necessarily required, he adds, noting Concept Care offers a range of more than 200 online courses – some of them mandatory. “We like to see what experience they have and if they can share new skills,” he says. “We employ on attitude, care factor and if they want really want to make a difference.”

Targeted training

Based in Sydney, Concept Care is a registered NDIS provider catering for about 250 individual clients, both adults and children, with a range of disabilities, including motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, ADHD, autism and stroke, along with a handful of aged care clients.

“We arrange individual training for our teams based on the clients’ needs,” Jones says. “It is often conducted by behavioural specialists, occupational therapists and a number of other allied health professionals.”

Founder Nikhi Gopinathan launched the Concept Care agency in 2019 and it took six months to sign up the first client. “It hasn’t stopped from there,” Jones adds. “She gets immense satisfaction from helping people and making a difference in people’s lives.”

Gopinathan has had the same telephone number for 20 years, “since I’ve known her”, Jones says, and every client and every staff member has her number, and they are all welcome to ring her at any time, 24 hours a day. “And it does happen,” he adds. “That’s the drive and passion that she expects from us. Her standards are exceptionally high.”

As founder and director, Gopinathan wants to be a part of every single recruitment interview, Jones says. “So our recruitment people do the interviews and Nikhi will always talk to them for 10 or 15 minutes afterwards”.

Concept Care has a policy of only accepting clients the company’s staff support workers can care for in a comprehensive way. “From a business point of view, we should take every single client, but we don’t,” Jones says. “If we don’t feel we have the capacity to look after that person the way they deserve, we will not take them on as a client.”

Disability support can be physically exhausting and emotionally taxing. Concept Care has an attrition rate of nearly 19 per cent per year for local hires, but the rate for international hires is far lower at just under 3 per cent. Only one care worker recruited abroad has so far been unable to continue working, Jones says.

As well as frequent feedback surveys, Concept Care is currently conducting performance reviews of all staff, he adds. Every staff member has been sent a confidential survey including queries on employment satisfaction and how the company as a whole and the management team can provide better and more comprehensive support.

“As cliched as it sounds, we genuinely do have an open-door policy and we encourage any staff member to reach out and offer feedback or bring any concerns to whoever they feel comfortable speaking with,” Jones says, “or even send their concerns anonymously if they choose.”

Australian Financial Review