Jonathan Freeman MBE, CEO, CareTech Foundation
Training and development have come a long way over the last two decades, thanks largely to the internet and access to smartphones. But, like so much else, the pandemic has accelerated change significantly. Social care, like all sectors, now has to embrace new types of training and development methods of delivery. We also need to cater for a host of different training needs and learners. Younger generations now entering the workforce are more tech-savvy than ever and more than capable of coping with a high level of digital and technological training methods.
So, where does the CareTech Foundation come in…
The Foundation and RNIB’s partnership for the Vision Friends programme is taking on the challenge of training and development in this new era. What is the partnership? The Vision Friends programme works to ensure that no one with complex needs in a care home setting is missing out on basic eyecare due to their additional needs and conditions. The project involves building on the existing Vision Friends training models and, working with CareTech Ltd staff, has reviewed and rolled out the project for the care sector in England. It aims to create transformational sector training. Staff will be able to pre-empt problems in care before they arise and create tailored support that lowers the risk of incidents and accidents in care homes.
Why is the training needed? There are over one million adults with a learning disability in the UK. It is estimated that 1 in 10 adults with a learning disability will be blind or partially sighted. The Department of Health and Social Care has highlighted that adults with learning disabilities are 10 times more likely to have serious sight problems than other adults and children are 28 times more likely. A further study (Li et all, 2015) showed that the prevalence of visual impairments is as much as 100% in people with severe or profound learning disabilities.
The programme is training 150 ‘Vision Friends’ to offer support. This project is embracing training and development in a new era by providing training in a care setting to care workers with interactive and digital tools. The training has been successfully delivered in person and virtually.
The Foundation also recently launched a partnership with Breaking Barriers, a charity that exists so that every refugee can access meaningful employment and build a new life. The specialist charity supports refugees into employment with one-to-one advice and guidance, education, and training.
Our partnership aims to reduce the high unemployment rates among refugees and help to decrease the vacancy rates in the health and social care sector. Breaking Barriers specialises in building employment skills, including English language classes, digital skills, understanding the UK job market and work culture, employment rights, and skills for CV writing, job applications and interviews. This is vital as it helps to break down many of the barriers that refugees face, and helps them to become job-ready.
The future of the workforce will be made up of people from all over the world, some in the UK and others remotely. The Breaking Barriers partnership is pivotal because refugees come from a diverse range of backgrounds and speak a range of languages. This means they can enhance the diversity of caring teams, both in terms of demographic but also the skills and experience they bring. For example, Breaking Barriers clients are aged between 18–68 and come from 60+ different countries.
We are the sector of empathy and we should embrace this attribute. With 231,597 refugees and 127,421 pending asylum cases in the UK (as of November 2022), providing opportunities to train and develop can add people to the social care workforce who have all the attributes needed to succeed. Indeed, social care is one of the top career choices of refugees supported by Breaking Barriers. This is a step in the right direction for organisations to cater for the globalisation of the workforce and their very specific needs.
The social care sector should embrace the challenge of training and development in a new era. We hope that our partnerships with RNIB and Breaking Barriers offer trailblazing paths for the social care sector and provide a blueprint for how to train and develop people in the future with new resources.