Interview: Advisory Board Answers Questions about Caring Support and the Future of HR in Healthcare

At Caring Support we're lucky to have some of Ontario's brightest minds in fields like business, digital marketing, higher education and, of course, healthcare. The success of our platform is the result of their joint efforts to create an integrated solution for the healthcare community that would meet their recruitment and career development needs.

Recently, they all came together to talk about what drove them to join Caring Support, what they love the most about the platform, and what the future of human resources in healthcare looks like to them. Keep reading to find out what they said.

1. What drove you to Caring Support?

Paul Woods: The world is constantly presenting leaders in healthcare with new tools and applications that you “absolutely have to have,” but the vast majority of them I refer to as “solutions in search of a problem” because they might be great ideas, but you don’t really know what problem they are trying to solve. When I first met with the founders and leaders of Caring Support it was obvious to me that this was a solution to a very real problem, in the sense that, if you look at the biggest crisis in healthcare right now is actually not COVID-19, it’s staffing. There is a global staffing shortage of RNs, RPNs, PSWs, Lab Techs, etc. So, I not only thought it was an important problem to solve, but also it was clear that the way the company was looking to solve it, which was to shorten the distance of connection between a hiring manager and a potential candidate, was important as well.

Don Thibert: Joe (CEO of Caring Support) approached me very early on in the process of creating Caring Support and I thought it was a great opportunity to kind of shake things up by putting the employee in a position of power, and doing that by putting their profile out there and saying they were looking for work, as opposed to being the employees the ones that are always chasing. Now it’s kind of the companies that are chasing after the employees, and I thought that was cool and different, so I wanted to be part of it.

Hilary Anderson: As an expert on HR, I know how much time it takes to hire new talent, and I know the challenges faced by HR departments. There has to be increased capacity on HR teams to deal with other HR matters, apart from recruitment, and that's what interested me more about Caring Support. This platform can reduce that time significantly and support HR teams in a way they have not been supported before. I remember when Rob (COO) and Joe (CEO) first approached me with this project because they knew I worked in healthcare. Months later, COVID came and at the time I was leading an HR team that was trying to recruit people for long-term care homes. That's when I realized that there was no easy way to know who actually wanted to work. We had lists and lists of people, but we’d called them and they would say “I don’t want to work”, “I’m retired,” or whatever. So I remember reaching out to Rob and Joe and saying “we need this product now, this would be amazing to have. What can I do to help?” That's pretty much the story of my involvement with the platform.

Byron Ells: I joined Caring Support for a couple of different reasons. First, as part of my continuous growth plan, I am always looking for opportunities to collaborate with companies and share my passion for digital marketing in particular. In terms of healthcare and what Caring Support is looking to do, I was attracted by my personal connection to the field, as both my mother and my mother-in-law were in long-term care and received home care as well. It was very apparent to me that there was a real need for a connection between healthcare organizations and caregivers so that they can deliver the care that aging people require. It is no small task to create a platform that's really a meeting place, and being a part of that is super exciting because there has probably never been a greater need than there is now. The final reason is because of the great group of people that are leading the company. Some of the folks in the organization I’ve known for a long time, so that gives me the “three legs," which are: (1) it's a great area of personal interest, (2) gives me the opportunity to continue sharing my knowledge and growing professionally, and (3) allows me to work with great people, which is what I enjoy the most. It’s a win-win-win.

2. Describe two of the major features you love about caring support.

Paul Woods: If you look at the architecture of being able to filter, both from the candidate side and from the healthcare organization side... The ability to filter on qualifications, experience, certifications, etc., in order to make sure that candidates meet the organization’s needs without having to sift through lots of resumes; and for candidates to be able to essentially select the kind of organizations that meet their needs and really to see what’s out there in the surroundings, is number one to me. Number two, and I’m only starting to appreciate the importance of this, is the connection with post-secondary institutions, in terms of being able to connect with candidates and employers. Creating that sort of “holy trinity” of healthcare really is a stroke of genius, in my opinion.

Don Thibert: I really like the fact that candidates can post a video. I know a lot of people are apprehensive and not familiar with that in today's world, but I really like it because it's an opportunity to get you out there, sharing about who you are, what kind of personality you have; so I think that feature is great to allow employers to get to know you. You know, they can look at your resume, and they can see all of your criteria, see where you match; but it's always nice to take a couple of minutes to get to know the person as well. The second feature is the post-secondary institute channel, which is something that I believe probably came out of one of the communications between Joe and myself where I felt, being the president of a post-secondary institution, that there was a big opportunity to cooperate in this whole process. So that feature, I know it's early on, but I love what I'm seeing so far.

Hilary Anderson: Number one is the communication that can be established virtually between an employer and a potential employee, for sure. I also like that it is free for individuals that are looking for work. There’s no barrier to them signing up. Number two, or three at this point, is that candidates can indicate when they’re available. As an employer, if you need someone today, you can filter out people who aren’t available at the moment, and that brings a lot of value to recruitment.

Byron Ells: To me, it really is about integration, you know, which allows for healthcare organizations to be able to find caregivers, and caregivers to find healthcare organizations. And now that the post-secondary institute channel was launched it added a whole new dimension to it. It makes it an all-in-one place where you can go and find what you need, and manage the entire process as well. The fact that the company is creating this integrated place where people can go to find what they are looking for is what I find to be the best aspect of it.

2. What value do you feel you bring to Caring Support?

Paul Woods: As a person who's led large healthcare organizations, understanding the problems, and the root causes of the problems, that organizations have with sourcing candidates, finding the right candidates, cultural fit... that operational piece of what is like within an organization, I think I have a lot to offer the company on that front. I’m pretty strategic in terms of seeing the way healthcare is moving forward and what is going to look like in one, three, five years, to be able to make sure that we’re not just solving today’s problems but looking at the future in a more adaptive and agile way.

Don Thibert: 35 years of working in education, helping tens of thousands of people change their goals in life, and pursuing a new career, that's what I bring to this platform that I really think can help people too.

Hilary Anderson: I have extensive experience in healthcare. I haven’t had to hire the positions that we have on the platform right now, but I know what it's like to try to hire for healthcare positions, and it’s a challenge. It takes time and energy because you end up going through resumes that lead you nowhere. I can see the benefits of this platform.

Byron Ells: I started my career in consulting and a big part of that was advising, going in and working with organizations to help them improve and achieve growth, which is something that I really enjoy. I’ve also spent a lot of time with digital marketing with brands like Shoppers Drug Mart, that if you look back to 2010, had absolutely no digital presence, so that was an opportunity for me to craft a vision and create a digital footprint that was all about how to connect with your customers differently and building relationships through web, email, mobile, social, eCommerce, integrated media, etc. That's what I love doing and what I'm excited to provide as valuable coaching and counsel to Caring Support.  

4. What's your vision of the future of HR in healthcare?

Paul Woods: If you look at the core of it, it’s going to be a matter of cultural fit. Organizations all have their own personality and things that they value. Some are conservative, some are about relationships, some are about innovation, and so on. I think that HR is going to be focused on making sure that they’re getting the best candidate; not a “warm body”, not just someone who has the right qualifications, not someone who has the right years of experience, which I think are very blunt measures of likelihood of success. But instead, organizations are going to say "is this the right person?" So, the ability to ask direct questions in terms of cultural fit, but also to start to leverage the data assets of Caring Support, for instance, to understand what kind of candidates end up staying, where are they from, are they usually single, are they married? So, the ability to make sure that in the future we are connecting the best candidates to the best organizations for them and that it isn’t just a competitive thing. I think down the road we will solve the whole undersupply problem with new care models, educating new people, and that sort of thing. I think it's getting the right candidates to the right jobs is what's in the future because then everybody wins: the patients that are served by that person in that organization; the organization itself because the right person comes, and they stay; and healthcare workers because they have a job doing what they’ve committed themselves to do.

Don Thibert: Certainly, we're seeing that the population (in Canada) is aging, and we see that people might not work an entire career in healthcare anymore, and they might decide that they want to do 20 years in healthcare, and then go out and do 15 years of something else. So, I think we're going to see a lot more activity in hiring and training for healthcare. I think that things are getting much more complicated in hospitals, so we will see a lot more training for that, and we're going to see people who will be mid-life changing careers to something different, as people keep saying "what else do I enjoy doing that I might want to do?" So that's going to put a big need on training and hiring. At Westervelt, we're probably 75% in healthcare, and that's really what people are looking for right now. They are looking to get into healthcare, they see stability. You know, very few people in healthcare got laid off during the pandemic; matter of fact, most of them worked considerably more hours, so I think we're seeing a big transition of people who are coming back to us and looking for those careers.

Hilary Anderson: It’s an employee’s world right now and it will continue to be. There are more jobs than people to fill them, and that’s going to be an ongoing challenge for organizations, as employees are going to be able to pick where they work. They are going to be able to work at the organizations that have the culture and values that resonate with them, instead of them taking the first job they see. They are going to be able to pick and choose. I think that’s part of why Caring Support is a fantastic platform because it allows employees to see what employers are hiring, and it gives them the ease to start dialogs with employers to see if they’re going to be a good match. This is going to be a good challenge over the next while, as healthcare organizations will have to prove they have the best culture, the best hiring experience, and that they are the best fit for these employees. It’s going to be very interesting, but I think for sure employees have the bigger opportunity here. The biggest difference today is technology because employees can see what’s out there and they’re going to go with the jobs that have the best value proposition for them. That’s the challenge to organizations, to show what their value proposition is. It’s not good enough to say “I’ve got an opening and I’ll pay you”. They need to put something more out there. They have to show their value proposition, so that would be interesting to see.

Byron Ells: There is no doubt that in all organizations, going out and finding talent is a very time-consuming and costly challenge. So I think in the future Caring Support will really be a good partner for organizations as they face these challenges. I think that's one dimension of it. The other one is cost. Recruiters, talent agencies, and even temp agencies are great, but they are costly, so I think in the future a platform like Caring Support will have an opportunity to break that barrier. Those are two dimensions of the future of HR that I think the team will be able to contribute to.

In closing, we hope this interview helped you understand what our platform is about on a deeper level and what the projections for the future of human resources in healthcare are, explained by industry experts and leaders of their own fields.

To learn more about each member of our Advisory Board, visit our "Meet Our Team" page.

Thanks for reading!

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