Posted: 6 February 2020
R.A.B.I - Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution - is a farming charity offering financial support, practical care and guidance to farming people of all ages. They run two small residential care homes and we spoke to Karolina Bialecka-Sokol, registered manager at Beaufort House in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset that houses 37 residents between 70 to 103 years old. They currently have seven people completing a Lead Adult Care Worker (level 3) apprenticeship and are considering level 4 apprenticeships for the future.
Karolina, originally a social worker from Poland, has spent over five years as a registered manager in nursing, dementia and residential services. She talks about the charity’s commitment to having a qualified workforce and wanting to educate those of all ages to a high level so they can deliver an excellent quality of care.
How does having apprenticeships contribute to yours organisational goals?
Succession planning is a big one. We want to have highly skilled staff that can access the qualifications they’re interested in. Every member of staff has an individual learning and development plan because we’re trying to encourage aspiration and leadership within the organisation. Upskilling our staff allows us to plan for the future.
Was there a specific reason you decided to use apprenticeships?
The government has changed a lot in terms of learning over the past five years and sets high standards for care homes, so we see apprenticeships as fundamental to achieving and maintaining these standards. We want to give our staff something concrete and give them chance to progress which is why we offer them apprenticeship opportunities.
How have you practically supported your apprentice?
I support them in many ways. I meet with the providers, determine how the apprenticeship programme will be structured, look at the end-point assessment, and generally am there to mentor them and show interest in their progress.
What’s been the biggest impact of using apprenticeships for your organisation?
Apprenticeship learning has brought our staff together and encouraged them to have deeper conversations about care.
What challenges did you experience?
It’s taken a lot of support to get some of the students to where they needed to be in terms of confidence. Many of the more mature learners feared the qualifications and learning in a different way with computers. Completing the learning is an adjustment but gives them a big sense of achievement.
What advice would you give to other employers who may be thinking about taking on an apprentice?
Karolina: Really think about why you’re doing it and what you’re trying to achieve. Interview various learning providers and find someone you can work with.
R.A.B.I is an example of an organisation where apprenticeships have encouraged staff to have deeper conversations about care which is positively impacting on the quality of care they provide. To learn more about how apprenticeships can deliver positive care outcomes within your service see our apprenticeship section. You can also visit our National Apprenticeship Week 2020 page to hear more inspiring stories.