Training is seen as the panacea for health and social care staff, but when budgets are tight, we must ensure it delivers
If you work in health and social care there's a reasonable chance you're a veteran of the training room. And by training I don't mean a degree or diploma, nor the fire lecture or the food hygiene course. I mean the sort of workshop-type training typically delivered over a day or two, focusing on a particular subject or skill with the intention of making you better at your job and better able to deliver services to vulnerable people.
I hope the course left you inspired and invigorated, filled with new skills and knowledge. But there's also another significant possibility. That it was little more than a chance to catch up with a few bods you haven't seen the last clinical supervision workshop. Not to mention of course the free coffee and a chocolate Bourbon.
The course may have been terrible/boring/poorly facilitated/inappropriate. Tick any which applies. Or it may have been thoroughly enjoyable and a great means of meeting new people and networking.
But answer this question: Did that course actually change the way you do your job? If the answer is usually "Yes, and in a good way" then great. But if it's "No, it was rubbish" or even "No. But it was quite interesting" then perhaps we need to be thinking about ways and means of delivering training that is both value for money, and effective.
Ask any group of health and social care staff how to resolve a particular issue and the probability is that a request for more training will loom very large in the responses, as they often do following independent inquiries. More training so often seems to be the panacea to all the ills of health and social care work, but is there an evidence base to suggest throwing a few workshops at failures in adult protection is the path to practice redemption? No. At least not according to a PhD student Lindsey Pike.
Pike's doctoral thesis explores the remarkably under-researched question of how training actually impacts practice at the frontline of care and support, specifically focusing on safeguarding adults training in one particular county. Her findings are telling.
Pike's work shows that lots of resources, effort and administration are being ploughed into costly training which doesn't, at the end of the day, result in improvements in safeguarding skills on the shop floor – unless training is embedded in a positive training culture and transfer climate. Transfer climate refers to "those situations and consequences in organisations that either inhibit or facilitate the use of what has been learned in training back on the job". A positive transfer climate would be one where delegates attend relevant, timely training, with a clear idea of what they need to gain from it, and support and Myself and others from both the UK and further afield are starting to think about a move on from the coffee biscuits Powerpoint model, which ticks the box on a manager's to-do list but achieves little else in terms of making us better at our jobs or providing better services.
So what's the answer? I suggest that traditional classroom-based training can be worth so much more when combined with three key features.
Firstly, tightly-knit integration of the one- or two-day course with an organisation's own policies and procedures, client groups and focus of attention.
Secondly, training could and should be followed up by some form of one-to-one or small group meeting to allow participants to establish whether the course made an impact on their practice. And who should be doing this follow-up? Preferably the trainer who delivered the course. But what if the trainer is now hundreds of miles away? Skype or one of the many e-learning packages can be utilised. But there is an even better solution.
Localised training delivered by local practitioners who have been given skills by a competent, focused training package is, I think, a genuine and realistic alternative to the expert from afarmodel. Delivering good training is a considerable skill, but not so much a considerable skill it can't be learned, especially when training skills are backed up by the sort of expertise and experience in health and social care so valued by course participants.
Connor Kinsella is an author and training consultant at JCK Training. He would like to acknowledge the contribution of Lindsey Pike to this article. Lindsey is currently working with Research in Practice for Adults
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Read the complete post at http://www.guardian.co.uk/social-care-network/2012/mar/07/social-care-training-fit-for-purpose
Mar 07 2012, 04:15 AM
Healthcare Network | guardian.co.uk