We all know the pressures exerted on social care businesses when it comes to the cost of training in terms of both time and finances:
- The need for a speedy recruitment and induction process that isn’t reliant on gathering a ‘big enough group to train’ and so reduce the numbers of applicants who leave the process.
- The need for a flexible delivery system of training so that staff who need training can access it at a time that fits into their working / available hours
- The need for training that is low cost to offset the high turnover in care staff
We also know that e-learning seems to offer at least a partial solution to all of the above but e-learning in itself has issues;
- How do you know the applicant is the one who completed the training?
- How do you motivate staff to complete e-learning in the required timescales?
- How do you ensure the generic e-learning relates to the actual organisation applicants are training for?
- How do you know which topics are ok for e-learning and which are not?
- How do you ensure that we do not exceed the 40% e-learning maximum advised by Skills for Care?
- How do you satisfy CQC inspectors that the e-learning we use is just one of the many tools used for training.
Blended E-learning is becoming a significant option for delivering training for many employers because it reduces classroom time and costs while tailoring learning to the individual organisation.
The key is to make EVERY e-learning module into a blended learning one.
Blended e-learning may be particularly beneficial when:
- delivering short, bite-sized chunks of learning
- The content may need to be used as ongoing reference material during employment
- It is difficult to gather learners together easily
- There is an uneven drip of new employees, rather than group recruitment, and you don’t want applicants to wait for training.
- Training needs to be consistent, so that all staff receive exactly the same training
- learners work hours do not match the available classroom training
- There is an urgency to complete the training: e learning can take shorter amounts of time but be aware that social care staff are often difficult to motivate to complete e-learning in an unsupervised environment.
You need to be able to work out when and how to blend so think about what kind of learning your staff need:
- The kind of learning that is based around knowing facts and understanding the underpinning knowledge, such as legislation, processes and procedures can be very effectively delivered using e-learning but still requires it to be linked to your workplace and the learner’s understanding checked.
- Learning that requires hands on experience or assessment cannot be replaced by e-learning but can supplement it by blending it with classroom or on-the-job training as well.
Both of these are types of blended learning but 1 can be carried out with a relatively short Link learning session and 2 requires a combined approach of e-learning, classroom and assessment.
Now think about what types of skills you want your staff to develop:
- Practical skills, such as moving and handling or medication administration can be shown in e-learning that incorporates video or webinars but must be supported by practical face to face equipment training sessions to enable the most basic of assessment cycles – ‘Plan, Do, Check, Adjust’ to be undertaken.
- Interpersonal skills, such as risk assessment, person-centred planning or dealing with emergencies and concerns can be introduced through e-learning, but must be supported by face-to-face training or management support to build up a proper understanding.
- Cognitive skills, such as report-writing need to be tailored to the organisation the learner is working for. They need to practice completing your own MAR and record sheets, risk assessments and careplans. If you create your own bespoke e-learning you may be able to impart the correct knowledge but this will need to be backed up with supervised practice sessions. If you don’t have bespoke e-learning, you should use classroom training or manager support.
Once you have a clear understanding of when and how you want to incorporate blended learning you need to create a structure to support it. This structure should include a policy and procedure on Blended Learning identifying when and how it will be used, for which elements of which training courses and how you are going to monitor and evaluate its application in your workplace. It should also include guidance on how staff can be supported to complete the modules within a specific timescale e.g. contact person for support, access to IT equipment, supervised sessions.
You can create a linked learning template for each e-learning module. This is a form that the line manager uses in a meeting with the learner to assess their knowledge and adapt their training to the organisation. It might include:
- 3-5 short questions on the training content to check the learner actually undertook and understands it. (If they don’t understand it fully it can be further explained in the session)
- Check that the relevant certificate has been downloaded and seen by the manager.
- A scenario for the learner to read and answer questions on to demonstrate how they would put the learning into practice in the workplace.
- Questions and information on who to contact with an issue and where to find further support and information in the organisation.
You can also develop workplace assessment templates to assess how the learner applies the training in their workplace. This assessment template can cover many elements of training and could even be incorporated into the Care Certificate Assessment to reduce duplication of assessment and the time required by the learner and manager to complete the process.
Using a linked learning session and workplace assessment will satisfy CQC that you are monitoring the quality of the training and applying it to your workplace as well as demonstrating that no more than 40% of the total training is e-learning.
E-learning is a great tool but it cannot replace face to face training and manager support. If you use it well it has the capacity to reduce your costs and improve the quality of your service but ONLY if you see it as part of your blended learning strategy. Gone are the days when CQC will allow you to use e-learning to tick training boxes.
Find out more about blended learning at: