Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Back to Basics after Winterbourne View: Social Care Training

The Governments final report on Winterbourne View says a lot about the need for staff training but within all of that there is an important phrase that applies right across the social care spectrum and that phrase is “properly trained”.

While there could be some debate about what ‘properly trained’ means it is essential that all care providers reflect on the standard of training that they are providing for their staff. Under the current economic climate it is quite possible that providers are focusing on the cost rather than the quality of training.

Skills for Care and Skills for Health are charged with producing minimum training standards by January but it is unclear as yet whether these will be tick boxes for providers or fundamental changes in the way training must be monitored or delivered yet in either instance care providers should take responsibility for the quality of the training they provide for their staff and this can be done in a number of ways.

Firstly talk to staff. How did they feel about the training, were they engaged with the training or was it just a chore that just had to be done? I know, from personal experience, have conversations like that are useful, once I was informed that a training session was pointless because the trainer just read everything from a book and obviously did not know much about the actual subject. Needless to say that training provider was not used again but without seeking that feedback in the first place the company would probably have continued using the same trainer.

Naturally it would be obviously more useful if care providers could have some assurance about the quality of training providers before they booked them. This is easy for certain courses such as First Aid and Food Hygiene where trainers are accredited by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health but for other training the route to quality is much less clear.

Yet there is some help, the National Skills Academy for Social Care has started a list of endorsed trainers (available here) and of course word of mouth through local trade associations is a good way to identify recommended trainers. Hopefully the endorsement/registration of trainers in social care will expand to help providers in identifying trainers who can provide appropriately qualified trainers to meet the needs of their particular service.

It is also, perhaps, important that care training providers look at how they can improve their own service by , perhaps, ensuring that the model of care set out in the Winterbourne View report is embedded in any training they deliver and by seeking recognition from the National Skills Academy for Social Care so that providers can trust that they will receive quality training.

Care providers have further responsibility though. Ensuring staff are ‘properly trained’ is not just about what happens in the classroom setting, that training has to be turned into practice and that aspect is the responsibility of the management of the care provider. How aspects such as infection control, medication, mental capacity, adult protection etc. are applied to those the provider cares for can only be done at the point of care delivery and it is essentially vital the staff development activities work hand in hand with formal training.

Unfortunately, when the sector changed from the National Minimum Standards to the Essential Standards of Quality and Safety many of the training standards were lost as the new standards were required to cover hospitals, dentists, ambulance services etc. as well as social care but hopefully the new standards being worked will fill some of this gap.

There can be little doubt that training and the quality of training will be high in the Care Quality Commission inspection agenda and ultimately training provision is the responsibility of the care provider and it is essential that training provided for staff is high quality training that engages and leads to better outcomes for those they provide services for.