County Durham’s newest adult social care workers are settling into their posts following a recruitment drive prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

County Durham Care Academy launched the fast-track recruitment and training programme in April in response to pressures being placed on the sector by the crisis.

More than 200 people expressed an interest in care worker, domestic assistant and kitchen assistant roles, with 24 progressing into work.

The Care Academy was launched by Durham County Council last year to support the development of a skilled and valued adult social care workforce in the county.

Its latest recruitment drive, matching applicants to opportunities in their local area, reached more than one million people via social media. The academy also offers remote training and development to provide potential new staff with the skills they will need to access opportunities in the sector.

There are more than 100 independent sector care providers in County Durham, supporting adults with social and physical activities including household tasks, personal care and attending appointments.

Devonshire House in West Auckland was one of the first care homes to make an appointment through the campaign, taking on new care worker, Billy Coyle, from Bishop Auckland.

Billy was forced to look for a change of a career during the coronavirus pandemic and is enjoying his new career so much he has now enrolled on a level 2 diploma in adult social care with the Care Academy. He said: “I was unemployed, I decided to give it a go and looked it up on the link through to the Care Academy website and filled in my details. There were 12 to 15 units to complete online before my details were circulated to local residential care homes and other companies in the private care sector.

“It took about two weeks to complete all the training. I’m dyslexic so the support I was given through the Care Academy to help me through certain parts of my modules was brilliant. Around a week later I had my interview at Devonshire House then my induction and shadow shifts.

“The transition from my previous roles to this was fantastic – I couldn’t ask for a better team. If it wasn’t for the Care Academy, I wouldn’t have had the specific training online and the basic knowledge to get me started in the care system.”

Opportunities are available for anyone wishing to work in adult social care, including those without prior experience. Further information is available at Regular updates can also be found on the care academy’s Facebook page