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Uniting Caroona Jarman Goonellabah

Our Choice
Uniting Caroona Jarman Goonellabah
Goonellabah, NSW

Residential - Regional, 80 + beds

Award descriptors:
Leadership and culture, Workforce, Autonomy and choice

About the program
The home was experiencing difficulty attracting and recruiting the “right” staff, staff who were truly committed to connecting with residents and supporting them to live meaningful lives. Residents need people with the “right” attitude to work in the home. 

A revamp of our recruitment process was thought to be the best place to start to help us to recruit staff with potential to flourish in the home and enhance the lives of the people who live there. How could we do this if the people who live in the home were not involved in the recruitment process?

Residents of the home now actively participate as panel members in the interview. We have increased emphasis on personality and with residents and staff have revised the interview questions to reflect this. We had to start with defining the “right” staff member according to the people we serve.

Adding a personality test to the process is a start. Revising the interview questions and adding all stakeholders on the interview panel stepped it up.

What we did
We developed a staff recruitment process that engaged residents, staff and family from the home in the recruitment process.

We had sponsorship from our own leadership team and Human Resources team within our organisation that supported the transformation.

There was a lot of input into the interview questions by the residents, staff and family as a whole and tweaking to gain greater clarity in the answer. Residents, family and staff were all very excited to work on this project.

The key feature of the new and innovative recruitment strategy was providing the voice of residents’ staff and family members in the recruitment process through their participation on the interview panel.

Innovative features of the recruitment process include:

  • Shortlisting of applicants based on attitude, then qualifications
  • Completion of on-line personality test by applicant prior to interview
  • Standardised set of interview questions assessing:
    • motivation for the position
    • operational skills
    • level of energy and positive disposition (energetic, enthusiastic, positive, open-minded, flexible, resilient)
    • personality (engaging, person-centred)
  • Interview panel comprises Service Manager, one resident (that can cognitively complete the process, comfortable with speaking their mind, and honest with their feelings); one staff member and one staff family member (comfortable with speaking their mind and outwardly show an interest in the care that is being delivered).
  • Quantitative data collected to monitor the strategy included workers compensation claims costs decreased; sick leave claims costs reduced; staff engagement levels increased.

Why we did it
In 2013 the home was experiencing significant challenges with workforce engagement and stability resulting in a significant loss in operating income, substantial sick leave costs and lost time through injuries.

We wanted to be known as a place where people wanted to live; where people chose to come and live.

We needed a workforce that was stable, enthusiastic, committed to quality care, had the right attitude to care for others, were great in a team environment and were proud to be part of our organisation.

A family member of one of our residents had asked us how we determined that our staff wanted to work in the home…. did we assess their attitude or did we employ them based on their qualifications?

The Australian Aged Care Leadership Capability Framework (2014) recognises the requirement for a broad range of behavioural attributes in aged care that extend beyond specialist qualifications including the ability to communicate with, relate to and work with clients and families.

With this in mind, we aimed to develop a recruitment process that builds a more stable workforce and enhances person-centred quality care through resident and family involvement in the recruitment process and employment of staff based on assessment of personal attributes and attitude to care with less emphasis on qualifications.

Who worked with us
Throughout the development, implementation and operation of the project, we worked in collaboration with:

  • Residents, staff and families 
  • Human resources team 
  • Continuous service improvement

What we learned
The new recruitment process commenced in December 2014, the nine staff who have been employed under this process are still employed in our home.

The results achieved over a 12 month period since implementing this recruitment strategy include:

  • decreased number of workers compensation claims costs
  • Decreased number of sick leave claims costs
  • Decreased number of formal staff performance issues
  • Increase in staff engagement levels

The residents and families have expressed their thankfulness of being part of the process. They feel that their contribution to the running of the home is valued. This has increased the “community feel” and opened up the communication channels. Including them on the panel has been a valuable resource as many have had experiences that they can bring to the team to help make an informed choice in the recruitment of staff.

More information on this program:
Kylie Connolly,, or phone (02) 6624 1572. 

Friday, 21 December 2018 - 7:05am