From education to employment

New training aims to improve career prospects in care homes

Pictured L-R Sharon Earnshaw (Headingley Hall Care Home), Heven Eyob (Headingley Hall Care Home), Judith Secker (Leeds City College), Michelle Atkinson (Leeds Care Association) and Estelle Brewster (Leeds City College).

Leeds City College, a member of Luminate Education Group, has delivered some of the first ever, on-demand health and social care courses directly in care homes, in partnership with Leeds Care Association.

The ‘Teaching Care Homes’ training programmes have been designed with care workers at the heart, as part of the West Yorkshire Consortium of College’s funded project, Let’s Talk Real Skills.

Despite the unprecedented challenges faced by care homes over the last 18 months, three care homes in Leeds took part in the pilot training this winter. The management-themed training helps to equip carers with the skills and knowledge to progress in their careers.

The project team adapted these business-based courses from their original face to face format, to become online in order to adapt to stringent Covid19 restrictions. The programme set out to test and then provide a blueprint for how a network of Teaching Care Homes projects could work together.

Deputy Head of Health and Social Care Apprenticeships at Leeds City College, Estelle Brewster said, “These courses are designed to support aspiring managers and those new to care. We want to develop their skills and knowledge to enable and encourage them to progress within the industry. There is a shortage of managers in the care sector, and we want to help care homes to retain their care workers and explore their career options within the sector.

“We’ve worked with a number of partners to develop a programme that has management-specific modules delivered by highly experienced trainers. Whereas we have only been able to deliver this to a small number of learners, we got excellent feedback about the courses. We’re hopeful we can take it forward to become a model in the long term.”

The courses were developed with Leeds Care Association to make it accessible and worthwhile for care home workers. The content includes finance, business planning, stakeholder engagement, marketing and quality, to give care workers a broader understanding of the businesses.

Michelle Atkinson, General Manager at Leeds Care Association said, “We know from our care home members that it can be difficult to grant care workers the time to leave the workplace for training. By bringing the training to them, in their workplace, when they need it, it means that it is more accessible and efficient, with less disruption to the day to day work they are required to carry out.”

“This pilot will set out to redefine and challenge preconceptions of the care industry, recognising that the key to sustainability in the sector is through workforce training and development.

“Through delivering an improved framework we hope that the next generation of health and social care professionals are equipped with the knowledge and skills to manage the care needs of an ageing population.”

Heven Eyob is a Senior Carer based at Headingley Hall Care Home and took part in the Aspiring Managers course. She said, “This course has allowed me to understand other things about the sector that I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t done it. I really enjoyed that it was led by the same people every week. It put me at ease and allowed me to become comfortable with them to be able to ask any questions and share my input. Being able to learn at my workplace allowed me to do the course without too much disruption to my daily job.

“I would recommend this course to others in my sector. Regardless of their role in the care home, I feel it would give them a better understanding of the background of the business. The course helps us to empathise and understand that there is a lot more to care than what you see on the surface.”

“The course has shown me some of the opportunities that exist in care and has developed some of my skills that could allow me to further my career.”

The pilot will help to share good practice and build better relationships with local FE and HE education and training providers in Leeds and beyond.

Bryony Cooper, Skills Associate at the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges supported the pilot’s implementation.

Bryony said, “We’ve been able to fund this pilot through the Let’s Talk Real Skills project, which aims to bring industry and education together to develop training that addresses skills gaps. Given the difficult 18 months that the care sector has just experienced, we were delighted that Leeds City College were able to pilot these courses with a few care homes in the region. The findings are very positive, and we hope to be able to support this model of learning in the future.”Let’s Talk Real Skills is funded by the European Social Fund and managed by the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges.

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