If you were to ask a front line care worker if they had heard of Skills for Care, the Social Care Institute of Excellence or the National Skills Academy for Social Care my guess is that the majority will have not.
It is not that they need to have heard of these organisations but it is essential that they hear about the work produced by these organisations and that is where social care leadership is so important. We need to disseminate information, new knowledge and best practice to those who are actually delivering care services to those in need.
Last week, for example, Skills for Care launched a new guide – Supporting Dementia Workers – which sets out 8 Common Core Principles for supporting people with dementia.
Earlier in the month the Social Care Institute of Excellence released a briefing on Preventing loneliness and preventing social isolation among older people and in a month or so the National Skills Academy for Social Care will be launching its Leadership Strategy for Social Care.
All very good work but all pointless if it does not reach the majority of social care providers and social care workers.
The responsibility with obtaining and passing on what is produced by these organisations lays with the care providers and the really good providers will actively seek out what’s new and put it into place but there are many other providers out there who will not.
These are not necessarily bad providers, but could be ones that are just inwardly focused on their business without taking the time to look beyond their own service to what they could do to further improve the lives of the people they provide services for. Other, less good providers, will use every excuse in the book not to look beyond their service - “We don’t have enough time for that sort of thing” etc – or they believe that they know best.
This is not just related to the work of the three organisations mentioned. A few years ago when I delivered a series of training seminars on staff development it was obvious that I was “preaching to the converted” with organisations interested in staff development who were sending their managers to the course, similarly only those outward looking providers send staff to conferences and seminars. Unfortunately it is the “unconverted” that we need to reach to ensure that they understand and deliver the knowledge ad best practice to their workforce.
The challenge, therefore, is to find ways to reach those providers who do not look for new information or believe they do not need that information.
Perhaps one solution is for the Care Quality Commission to enhance their registration of managers to include a requirement that all registered managers must provide evidence of Continuing Professional Development annually in order to maintain their registered status. This is a standard requirement (albeit not annually) for most other registered professionals and it would ensure that all Registered Managers undertake some form of external training that would extend their wider knowledge of new developments in social care.
Additionally those commissioning services could take a more proactive approach to ensuring best practice is disseminated. Where local authorities offer conferences etc for providers we come against the same problems of only the good providers sending staff to them so commissioners need to be more active in ensuring that those they pay money to are fully up to date with best practice and new knowledge.
There are many sources of information, knowledge and good practice in social care but we need to make certain that all of reaches those who are actually delivering front line care services if we want those in need of services to benefit from it.
N.B. For Tweeters: National Skills Academy for Social Care - @NSASocialcare
Skills for Care - @SkillsforCare
Social Care Institute of Excellence - @SCIE_Socialcare