In times of austerity, such as those that we face in 2012, companies can easily see health and social care training as an easy target. When budgets are being squeezed from all directions, any expense on staff training can seem to be a luxury.
However in my opinion this is short-sighted and plain wrong.
The work that is carried out in the health and social care organizations is complicated, sensitive, and far-reaching. Get it wrong, and lives are ruined. We only have to think about the appalling abuse that was exposed at the Winterbourne View private hospital recently to realize this. Good quality training could – and would – have made the staff realize that what was happening there was wrong and that they could have done something about it.
Face-to-face training has any number of benefits. Here are three of the major ones:
Firstly, one of the main benefits of face-to-face training is the interaction between the participants that occurs in the hands of an expert trainer. This allows the participants to process their thoughts and to work out exactly how the ideas can be applied to their workplaces. As one participant commented after a recent course run by St Thomas Training, a leading care training provider: “Superb training … gave good information on how to apply in practice … enjoyed interaction and scenarios”.
Another advantage is the opportunity to take time away from the day-to-day work routine and analyze exactly what is effective and what could be improved. This is crucial in an industry such as health and social care where there are very few absolute right and wrong answers. People’s lives are very individual, and what works with one person does not necessarily work with anyone else. But sharing ideas, and trying to apply techniques in a safe environment (where mistakes don’t matter) is a vital way of improving the service to the customer. Another typical comment from our social care training courses is “The training was very informative – gave you ideas of what you can plan for your own life as well as the service user”.
Finally, a good training session can make staff members feel appreciated, and therefore more committed to the organization. When staff is asked what motivates them to do a good job, the top answer is invariably “Feeling valued”. A good staff training program is an excellent way of telling your staff that they are indeed valued.
Some organizations see e-learning as a cheap alternative to face-to-face training. Again this is a false economy. E-learning has its place but is better used in conjunction with face-to-face training, not as a replacement for it. And there is a practical issue especially in places like care and nursing homes which is that there are often very few computers available for the staff to access.
In summary, a good staff training program is the sign of a good organization. If your relative needed to move into residential care which home would you choose – the one with lots of staff training or the one with none?!