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Precious Homes

Tony Ferrari, Head of Talent Acquisition and Retention at Precious Homes

A ‘person-centred approach’ for service users is the stated aim of care companies across the country, but how many of them are extending this towards their employees too? London based independent care company Precious Homes, which provides innovative support services for young people and adults with complex needs, is forging ahead in its ambition to achieve just this.

“It’s a personal crusade for me,” explained Tony Ferrari, Head of Talent Acquisition and Retention at Precious Homes. “We aim to be as person-centred with staff as we are with our service users and we start this straight away at our assessment days, when we get the first chance to meet applicants.”

Precious Homes assessment days have several unique aspects to them. Usually between 20-30 candidates are introduced to the company, its values and ambitions before undertaking a variety of challenges, such as discussing their approach to situational quandaries, video-based tests, group-based scenario planning on real life incidents that have happened at Precious Homes and more.

“Our managers are heavily involved throughout the day supporting candidates and assessing their approach and skills,” explained Tony. “No manager gets to see an applicant’s CV in advance, it’s important that they have not pre-judged anyone.

“We don’t rely heavily on previous experience, it’s more about what they achieve on the day whether we decide they are suited to the role or not, and/or a suitable match to one of the service users. We’re a care company, we care about getting people through the day successfully.”

Another unusual approach to most assessment centres is that Precious Homes service users take part in the assessment days too. They will watch and interact with candidates during the day and report back on their findings, which provides important feedback to the management team.

With so much thought already having gone into the process, Tony is always looking for ways to improve it further.

“A weak point we identified was in the final part of the day, the ten-minute interview, where we were experiencing some of the problems that come with the standard interview process,” said Tony. “At this point the focus was on CVs and previous experience, with people sometimes acting unnaturally to them because an interview is an unusual environment where you rarely get the best out of people.

“We solve this by using the Profiles4Care tool. It shows us what someone could do not what they have already done, and this suits us better. There have been times where the Profiles4Care report has overridden a negative decision because someone got nervous and inadvertently did something that was out of character on the day, we trust it for its accuracy.

“When we did the original trial of the Profiles4Care tool, we were all blown away by its accuracy. I recommend to everyone to try it for themselves first, once people across the organisation had completed it they were bought into it,” said Tony.

Precious Homes is also using the Profiles4Care reports to make staff appraisals for employees more person-centred too, improving the insight and depth of discussions that can be had.

“We know we’re only scratching the surface of the possibilities of how we use Profiles4Care internally,” explained Tony. “Our challenge now is to keep innovating, for example by regularly changing and improving our scenarios, making sure we hit and exceed every CQC milestone on the way, and integrating our person-centre approach into everything we do with the existing team.

“Importantly, the process, the assessment days, the way we treat candidates, the way we treat employees, this all adds value to our reputation. Even people who are unsuccessful at the application stage are left with positive feelings towards the company. Someday they may have a friend or relative that need of the services we offer, and we want them to have the trust in us to come to us first,” concluded Tony.