Promoting Opportunities for Inclusion in Social Care Employment (POISE)

POISE-278The POISE project had three main goals:

  • To improve the recruitment of staff into learning disability services.
  • To explore staff recruitment and retention issues in the care sector in Northern Ireland focussing initially on the North Down and Ards/North and West Belfast areas with a view to mainstreaming its findings throughout Northern Ireland.
  • To develop a profile of staff composition and identify barriers experienced by individuals and group of staff in the areas of recruitment and retention.

We worked with employers to adopt working practices that enable women to progress within employment. Measures were put in place to encourage men and women to enter professions in which they are traditionally underrepresented.

The project tried to encourage unemployed people and school leavers to join the care workforce. We published a report on the profile of the social care workforce in the learning disability sector.

We provided two ‘First Steps’ Induction to management programmes to 23 women, 21 completed the programme.

Seven of those who completed the programme were promoted to a management or supervisory position within six months of completing the programme. The programme included five modules from the HPD programme.

We provided ten ‘Care to Make a Difference?’ pre-recruitment programmes, specifically targeting males to consider the care sector as an employment oppotunity; 103 people completed the programme with 28 being successful for direct care jobs within one of the partner organisations.

We produced a DVD ‘No Ordinary Job’ showing positive role models in different facilities within the learning disability sector.

POISE developed a transnational partnership with other EQUAL projects from:

  • Debrecen, Hungary
  • Navelli, Italy
  • Valenicia, Spain

A clear programme of work was agreed with these partners that resulted in an exchange of good practice and dissemination of outcomes in the following areas:

  • Soft Indicators – to identify soft indicators to be used for measuring development that is difficult to grasp using conventional methods.
  • Comparison of legislation in relation to equal opportunities – to compare legal regulations and national practices related to the labour market, equal opportunities and the employment of men and women.

Since the POISE project finished we’ve used the information gathered from our research working on the POISE project to develop the ‘Care To Make A Difference?’ training programme. We have also completed training and work observation visits.

The POISE project was funded by the Ulster Community & Hospitals Trust (now part of South Eastern Trust), EQUAL Community Initiative, Department for Employment & Learning NI, North & West Belfast Trust (now part of Belfast Trust) and Positive Futures.


  • We produced the following research reports:
  • More than a Job? – Profile of the Social Care Workforce in Learning Disability Services (Sept 2005)
  • Men Can Care – Views of male staff working within three learning disability services within NI (Sept 2006)
  • Staffing Matters! – Report on research into the workforce in learning disability Services (2008)
  • Road to Recruitment – Practical tools and tips for those responsible for recruiting staff to work with people with a learning disability (2008)
  • New Horizons  – Migrant Workers and Services for People with a learning disability in NI (2008)
  • Equal Opportunities A Manual of Best Practices  – A report on working on the ‘Balance’ Transnational Partnership (2008)

Useful Information: