News Opinion

Training – The Challenge for the 21st Century

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive, Care England

Training is one of the most important aspects of delivering quality care. Staff need to have an understanding of how things are done and what are the best ways to deliver outcomes for the people who use their services.

All that said, there is all too often a tendency to see training as a process rather than the route to an outcome. We need to remind ourselves that the training people receive is no good unless it delivers changes in practice that improve lives.

In recent years we have seen endless scandals around the health and social care system and with every expensive inquiry report that is written comes a plea for more training. I believe that before you rush to giving more training, the question that should be asked is, why did the training which people already had, not deliver better care and better outcomes.

This is particularly true in the NHS, which spends £100,000 a minute on training and still we have had scandals such as in Mid Staffordshire. What the inquiries into these scandals failed to ask was why the training people had already received clearly did not change their practice.

There is a tendency in both health and social care to see training as an end in itself and to monitor how many people have been on which courses, rather than to look at the impact the training has had on the people who use services.

For me, every training intervention should have some clear objectives about the impact on people’s lives and there should be a series of measures that will indicate whether or not the training has been successful.

I think some of these measures need to be hard data, such as, has it reduced the need for emergency admissions, are peoples’ health conditions better managed, are falls reduced and can we see an impact on the well-being of the person using the service.

We have just seen a new workforce strategy, which was supposed to cross health and social care, but like so much that comes out of Government; there was little consultation with the social care sector about this strategy and little acknowledgement of social care in the document.

What we desperately need is a strategy that will cross boundaries and deliver staff that are able to move seamlessly across the system in the same way that citizens do. The practice of silo thinking and silo acting has delivered a fragmented service where the expertise and skills of staff are not used to the maximum potential because of the artificial barriers that exist between health and social care.

The challenge for the 21st-century is to craft a system that recognises that the majority of people will be living with comorbidities and they require services that enable them to live well with several serious health conditions, rather than being pushed between systems that have disproportionate levels of resource in training and staff.

I believe that training has become a bit of a false God and we need to take it out of the realm of being something which is required, to something which is embraced by staff because they know that it will make a difference to the work they do, the services they deliver and most importantly, it will make a difference to the people they support.

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