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02nd May 2014

Getting the Right Mandate for Training

Training - sports, business and education signHaving been involved in delivering training for staff in care home and domiciliary care settings for some time, particularly around mental capacity, I’ve been interested in what makes for effective training for staff, with the aim being that staff at the end of the training are thinking ‘that’s just what we needed.’

Why are we here?

One of the critical issues before embarking on training is to ask what the mandate for training is. What I mean by that is, why are these staff members coming on this training? If the answer is because they’ve been told to, then the trainer really needs to know that and do some work with the organisation beforehand. If staff are only coming on training because it’s compulsory, they may not be personally motivated to engage with the topic. You’d need to do some work at the start of the training to understand why it is important for these workers!

You might find a whole range of staff attending a training session each with different levels of knowledge and different levels of expectation. I think it can be very helpful for a whole staff team to attend training together, but again some preparatory work at the start in terms of ‘what do you want to get out of this?’ or ‘where is your level of knowledge of this topic on a scale of 1 to 10?’ can help tailor a session so everyone’s needs are met. Tony Morrison in his excellent Effective Training in Social Care (1999), describes an analogy used by McMahon and Carter in their book The Great Training Robbery (1990), where they compare training to a market gardener planning a programme of planting. Morrison says ‘if the ground is not properly prepared then the quality of the harvest may be affected.’

Developing practice

When the topic is about something like the Mental Capacity Act, i.e. the law, we want to make the session meaningful for the person. It might be legal training, but it’s not about making us all legal experts. It should be about improving and developing our practice. What bits of the law do I need to know to help my practice?

A training session should not be seen in isolation. “You’ve had your half day training on this topic, that’s it now.” That will never be enough! You want to be able to offer staff ongoing opportunities for learning, perhaps with a refresher session in the future, or resources that they can go away and use to further develop their knowledge.

Taking ownership

I think there is something very unique about the residential sector in terms of training needs, partly as it is often difficult to access outside training. Most staff are very caring and committed and want to be better at their job, and I think that means taking more ownership of their own training needs. QCS Training Policy and Procedure PR14 gives a lot useful guidance on getting the best for your staff when assessing their training needs.

Topics: Mental Health

David Beckingham

Mental Health Specialist

David Beckingham is a self-employed independent trainer, and is also an honorary lecturer with the University of Cumbria. His professional background is as a social worker and he has worked in care homes for older people in Cumbria. David’s main area of expertise is in mental health. Prior to becoming self-employed he was a Staff Development and Training Officer with Cumbria County Council, both commissioning and delivering training to mental health workers and others in statutory and independent sector organisations. Read more

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