Skills for Care

There's always something new to learn

03 Sep 2018

Reflecting on the fact that we're learning all the time, Andy Tilden, Director of sector development – skills at Skills for Care, talks to us about why it's so important that the adult social care workforce have the opportunity learn and develop.

To state the blooming obvious we are learning all the time, it is not age restricted and we learn in many varied ways. Important to also note that not all of what we learn is positive. Two questions for employers are ‘what are your workers learning?’ and 'how are they learning?'.

Learning is not just ‘off the job’ or classroom based. I initially trained as a teacher and on day one of my first teaching practice an experienced teacher came up to me and said ‘right I bet you learnt at Uni to teach this way…well we don't do it like that...this is how we do it here!’ And I shall also never forget a new keen to learn, enthusiastic NVQ student openly (and initially positively) discussing that ‘bath time’ in the care home she had just joined meant filling the bath once and all residents used the same water!!! When I and other students questioned this she said that was how all the staff did it and she simply accepted that this was how it was done in residential care!

The ability for the adult social care workforce to learn and to continually learn is vital if we are to provide positive care and support to enable people to live the best lives possible. I like the mantra that learning is or should be an ongoing and essential skill for our workforce.

Employers have a responsibility to ensure that workers are well led, well trained, confident, competent and up to date with the current practice in care and in order to achieve this there should not be a one size fits all approach to how we enable our workforce to learn.

Learning should always be appropriate to job role or skills and knowledge requirements. It should be delivered by a method suitable to the learner and at a time and place which makes it easier to learn.

Good and outstanding services are able to demonstrate good learning and development provision – ‘In January 2018, 83% of adult social care services were rated good or outstanding relating to ‘effective’. They often achieved this by ensuring their induction met or exceeded national standards, and continued to develop and support staff and volunteers beyond induction.’

We know that investing in the learning and development of your workforce is good for morale, retention rates and the reputation of your service. The learning and development that is offered through job adverts and at interview is attractive to potential recruits wanting to develop their careers.

With all that in mind here are some questions that should be considered when thinking about learning and development for your organisation:

  • What evidence of learning do new workers demonstrate at interview?
  • Does that evidence match what you require in your workplace?
  • Do your workers ‘know’ and can they ‘do’?
  • At interview what are new workers learning from the advert, the job description, the interview process and your behaviour with other staff and the people who receive care and support?
  • Have you explored ways in which those that receive your service can have a prominent and active role in the learning process?
  • Is the delivery of the Care Certificate and your wider induction tailored to the way that the worker likes to learn? If not can it be?
  • Is the culture of your workplace (the way we do things around here) conducive to learning?
  • Have you considered the variety of ways you can capture the development of your workers? Learning doesn't necessarily mean a qualification. There are all sorts of learning opportunities that could be captured and recorded.
  • If you buy in learning and development from an outside source how do you assure yourself that the learning is of high quality and relevant to your service?
  • Are workers able to put into practice any learning they receive back in your workplace? If not why not?
  • Leadership is seen throughout all levels in organisations and non-more so than in social care. Leadership learning should be encouraged for all workers. Do you encourage it?

Throughout September we’ll be exploring all things ‘learning and development’. We’ll be sharing blogs and expert advice along with resources and useful tools to help you improve the learning and development provision in your organisation.

You can follow the campaign on Twitter using #learnsomethingnew or keep an eye on our website.

Topic areas

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