Mind The Gap: Identifying And Meeting Training Needs In Adult Social Care
‘In the main, as we recognize, it can be quite difficult to see if training is actually being applied in practice, I think that actually ensuring training is applied could probably be added on to sector challenges/barriers.’
Our informant is a practising occupational therapist with experience working in a variety of settings including undertaking competency assessments, mental health, assessing and supporting patients with frailty and dementia and working in the community. She is currently also establishing a training company for adult social care to address gaps in knowledge and understanding.
I'm looking at developing my own training company, because I've seen gaps in knowledge, for example, when it comes to the Mental Capacity Act…people don't know how to apply the different healthcare acts… [care workers] need to know how to apply it in practice, not just learn about the history of how it came about’
Our respondent feels organisations are often attracted to the cheapest training options because margins are so tight, there is so little time, and staffing to cover for training is such a problem. However, she has found problems with training that is poorly targeted, not delivered by people with relevent expertise, which makes the training poor value for the trainees and the organisation.
Acknowledging the lower status of care work as opposed to health-related roles based within the NHS our respondent points to the need for care staff to have outstanding soft skills, particularly communication and empathy, and that these skills should be prioritised in recruitment and training and developed and assessed through work-based learning.
“Actually, it's OK to have different learning abilities. Not everybody is going to be able to sit there and write a 10,000 word essay …we've all got different skills that we can utilize. And actually, it's the proactive skills that are more important when we're working in social care. Can you actually engage with a person with dignity? With respectful communication? Can you actually problem solve a situation in a safe way? And that's maybe not going to be in the typical training routes.”
Our respondent set out a clear vision for innovating in training and in practice, through involving all staff in thinking about how practice can be improved, and engaging staff in the identification of training needs. She identified how training could be innovative, with modular and synoptic elements covering specific conditions and co-morbidities, leadership, communication, network building, resilience and many other elements with different approaches to learning available to suit differing organisational needs.
“Most of all, giving flexibility to work with each organisation to fix THEIR [training] needs - if it is end of day 1 hour sessions, full days, half days, half hour hand over boost, workshops, on hand on shift consultancy alongside staff etc. Working WITH the organisations in a tailored way, just like we SHOULD be tailoring our clients/service users/patients care. This sector has a really challenging time juggling budgets and time, let’s make it more accessible and engaging for all.”