In this guest blog, Sunderland City Council’s Workforce Development Manager Dave Sharpe, shares the 8 steps that were put in place to roll out e-learning to traditionally hard-to-reach social care workers.
Within Sunderland City Council (in common with other Local Authorities) Adult Social Care is a large part of our budgets and service delivery, with continued growth in demand projected for future years.
Supporting training and development in the social care workforce is, therefore, a priority for the training function.
Although well established in many organisations and sectors, e-learning is still seen by some as a new approach to training and development. There is often a valid concern that e-learning is potentially difficult for hard-to-reach learners who may have limited ICT skills, and/or reduced access to computer equipment.
How did we go about it?
The main steps that have helped to change the culture are:
- An ‘ambassador’ to actively market the potential and opportunities provided by new approaches to training delivery – in our case this was a training consultant who is allocated to the social care services as their key contact and has developed good working relationships with managers over several years;
- Providing supported sessions where managers and employees can start to use e-learning, with a tutor present to provide practical support and help build confidence and ICT skills;
- Demonstrating the advantages of the approach by providing a rapid response to training needs arising from initiatives such as personalisation. In the personalisation example, we were able to pull together a range of courses, guidance and other information to support a service-wide awareness training programme at very short notice;
- Being clear about the relative costs of different delivery methods. For example, where staff work 24-hour shifts or outside a fixed office location, release time to attend training and the need to cover absence can be difficult. E-learning, on the other hand, can be accessed 24/7 at no additional cost;
- Attending management meetings where training needs are discussed and encouraging an approach which starts with the outcome required from the training rather than starting with a list of traditional training courses;
- Making the case for increased impact at less cost by combining self-service through e-learning with support within the workplace from a manager or mentor, and the option of 1:1 coaching where appropriate – this is based on research about how people prefer to learn and the ’70:20:10′ approach;
- Managers and supervisors have helped their colleagues to access on-line courses by sharing ICT equipment (for example, in some care homes the computer in the manager’s office has been used to access courses) and providing practical help to access the LMS and use courses;
- In some situations or with some courses, a briefing by the manager or supervisor is a more effective approach. For these situations, the manager is expected to complete the relevant e-learning course. Once the manager gets to the end of the course a briefing document is made available, for use in delivering a briefing.
Evidence of culture change
In the period from 1st January 2013 to 30th June 2013, over 50% of City council courses were completed on-line. The social care workforce represents more than 50% of the active users and course completions.
Nearly 20% of our course completions are outside standard office hours. For example, we know that staff in care homes are using free time over the weekend, during the night as well as the day, to complete on-line courses.
Reducing costs by £100k per annum
At the same time as delivering a more flexible and responsive programme of training, the service has been able to reduce its training costs by more than £100,000 per annum.
This includes direct and indirect costs such as time for attendance at courses, travel time, and cover for absent staff.
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