Jan 17

Why do we need to address core skills in social care?

Posted: 16 January 2017


Pippa Doran, core skills project manager at Skills for Care, talks to us about why employers need to take action on core skills, and the costly consequences of not doing so.

Everyone in adult social care now recognises the need for frontline staff to do the Care Certificate and then move on to level 2 qualifications and beyond. But how often do we think about the core skills needed to provide a safe, efficient and caring service?

We often take core skills - which include English, number and digital skills - for granted, but research suggests many adult social care staff may need support with the core skills they use in their day to day roles.

Quality is a key driver in the adult social care sector so everyone needs to be able to read, understand and follow instructions, carry out tasks with the right degree of precision, keep numerical and written records and be able to handle basic numbers and calculations.

Care workers at all levels they also need good speaking and listening skills to express themselves clearly, actively listen to others and react appropriately to what they hear and see.

Improved core skills can help people avoid unnecessary mistakes and can make your organisation a safer and more efficient place to work. This in turn improves the outcome for people who need care and support.

It would be all too easy to just say ‘all my staff have qualifications so they don’t need help with core skills’. But just because staff are qualified doesn’t mean they always have the right core skills for their job roles. Even when staff do have good core skills, developing them further can be beneficial to the individual, those they support and the organisation they work for.

To support the development of core skills in social care, Skills for Care has launched new assessment and ‘bite sized’ learning resources along with guidance for managers on how to use them in the workplace.

The learning activities help managers to assess and develop the English, number and digital skills of front line care staff, and also address important employability skills such as team work, communication and problem solving.

You can download all of these resources from the core skills webpage and I would urge you to take a look.

Ask yourself this, what is the cost of not addressing poor core skills? The impact of poorly written care plans or handover notes, mistakes with medications or misunderstanding verbal communications can be frustrating at best, but at worst could be life threatening.

The reality is any gaps in core skills will almost certainly affect the quality of care you deliver; it’s therefore worthwhile taking on the challenge.