Groundbreaking recruitment led by people with dementia!

See also DEEP guide on recruitment and selection

We needed a new member of staff!!

As service users / clients of Forget Me Not Centre we wanted to be involved in every part of the process to find the right person, not only because it is us the person will be working with but also as this person will be filling a big hole left by the loss of Tash who passed away earlier this year – we really miss her.

We began by having a discussion about  what sort of person we wanted – we said that they had to be kind, fun loving, energetic, motivating, sensitive, non-judgmental and not take themselves too seriously.

Using these criteria we then set about writing an appealing, honest and friendly advert – resulting in over 80 applications.

We asked Lynda, (The Forget Me Not Centre Manager) and her team to shortlist for us – based on what we had said we wanted. 32 applicants were shortlisted using our criteria.

Over 2 days, candidates arrived in groups of up to 3 at a time at a time and  rotated through activities and an interview every 20 minutes.

Steve was our timekeeper and tried to make sure that everyone was in the right place at the right time.

We wanted all the candidates to take part in activities with us as you can’t always tell much about a person from their interview alone.

  •  In the art room we wanted to see if people were willing to “have a go”, not take themselves too seriously, able to have a laugh and get an idea about how interested they were to find out more about us.
  •  In the kitchen people helped us to make scones – we wanted to find out if people could break down instructions and support us to do it ourselves without taking over,
  •  In the greenhouse – people helped us to plant out some bulbs and flowers – we wanted to see if people were prepared to muck in and get their hands dirty (literally)  – not everyone rose to the challenge!
  •  A quiz in the conservatory – we wanted to see if people could get things going without needing to be told what to do, again without taking over (too much) – we wanted to see if people could think on their feet and use their initiative.

So, some of us were involved in the activities, and some of us sat in the interview panel.

We each had a question we had worked on before and which was written on a slip of paper – needless to say remembering where the slip was for each interview was not plain sailing!

Questions we asked included:

  •  What do you think makes a good supporter for someone with dementia?
  •  If you had dementia, how would you want people around you to behave?
  •  Can you tell us about a time when you really messed up – and what you learned? (apparently some people are perfect!)
  •  Tell us about a time in your life when you needed support – and what helped you the most?
  •  What are your hobbies and interests?

After each batch of interviews  – those of us who had been doing the activities came down and told the others how we thought the candidate had got on.

Finally – after two days we had to make a decision. Harry had, with permission, taken pictures of all the applicants – in case we needed a reminder of who we were talking about.

We talked about the candidates – what we liked, whether we had any concerns – and finally were left with a shortlist of three – which we then talked down to two – and then we voted.

Finally we agreed that almost unanimously our choice was to be Danny  – who we are very happy with and who will be joining us soon.

It was an exhausting two days – but we feel really pleased to have made decisions all along the way – with support from Lynda and the team at Forget-me-Not. It is only right that we make the decision – as we are the ones they will be working with after all!

Lynda Hughes – manager of Forget me Not said:

“We were really pleased to be able to support people to take control of this process – we worked to the draft guidelines that Dementia Engagement and Empowerment project (DEEP)  has developed for involving people with dementia in recruitment – and I think what we have learned will help us to strengthen the guidelines even further – Steve from Innovations in Dementia was there to support us through the process and I think he has gone away with some real food for thought.

Crucially, some people who performed really well in interview were less able to replicate this during the activities. We needed to make sure as far as we could that the successful candidate was skilled and authentic  across the board, and not just able to talk the talk.  This process certainly did that! ”

When asked what had found useful from being involved,  Laurence said ‘I knows I’m important already, it just gave mea chance to show off,’ Harry added, “the idea that you might have chosen someone without our input is just plain daft, after all, it us they will be working with day in day out!,”