In a recent blog, we discussed the Workforce Development Fund (WDF) and outlined how it can support adult social care providers with the training and development of their staff. However, the impact of the fund has a far greater reach and more profound effect on the quality of social care. The wider impact reaches into things like staff retention, culture change, the development of a professional workforce and perhaps more obviously, supporting organisations financially.
It is no secret that social care work is not highly paid. Those that choose social care as a profession rarely do so for the money. Workers often state that their reason for choosing to work in social care is to make a difference in the lives of those who are less able or less fortunate. They value the quality of interaction they have with those who require support and equally anything that can support them to make a difference in the lives of others.
Social care workers place a high value on training, learning and development opportunities and qualifications as they support them to expand their knowledge and strengthen their skills. Learning and development opportunities are one of the primary reasons why workers choose to stay in social care roles. These opportunities demonstrate to staff how valued they are and provide positive knock-on effects to the quality of care delivered.
In recent history, the social care sector has witnessed what can happen when organisational culture is allowed to develop without conscious or deliberate nurture. Negative cultures are likely to form and when nothing is done to address them, they can become abusive.
Leaders and managers recognise the key role that qualifications, training, learning and development play in culture change. A culture is unlikely to change without significant support from a variety of learning and development opportunities. Where there is a positive, enriching culture that promotes high-quality support and quality of life, there will almost certainly be a solid foundation of learning and development at its root.
Developing a professional workforce
Many employers see it as their responsibility to develop the workforce for the social care sector and not just for their own organisational needs. This holistic attitude to workforce development is essential for the well-being of the sector. We need to see a bigger picture about training, learning and development, recognising the need for a professional body of workers that helps to instil confidence in the sector.
Many employers now embrace a philosophy of continuous learning and improvement and continuing professional development (CPD). They recognise that where there is no learning and consequent improvement, things are not simply standing still but are likely going backwards. A positive culture of learning and development usually results in an uplifting workplace with many benefits to staff and service users.
As the demand for social care services over the next 15 to 20 years is anticipated to surge, the sector must continue to challenge the perceptions and negative connotations that surround careers in care.
It is no secret that the social care sector has been under severe financial pressure for many years. Access to funds like the Workforce Development Fund may not provide all the answers, but they can provide an invaluable source of money for those organisations.
Many employers have stated that without the funding support, they would not be able to provide the volume of training, learning and development opportunities to their staff. Some employers use the money to develop their own learning and development teams and in this, there is a kind of holistic recycling of the fund and its intention to support the development of knowledge and skills of those working in the sector.
Having a well-trained professional workforce has other clear impacts on the quality of social care. There is a reduction in the likelihood of abuse happening. Well-trained professional staff are more aware of risk management and how to positively assess risk without reducing and limiting the choices of those they support.
Our Well Led, Lead to Succeed, and Leading Change Improving Care courses support your leadership teams to grow and enhance their leadership skills, helping them learn and develop into more senior roles.
More information about the WDF can be found on Skills for Care here.