Unit 3:Employability and professional development

Unit 3:Employability and  professional development


As a registered manager it is imperative that myself and the staff team continually develop and improve our knowledge and skills. This can be achieved by building and maintaining positive working relationships by offering systems to enable staff to feel supported. There are various ways that this is achieved such as: Formal

Informal
Supervision
Appraisal
Mentoring
Within the organisation
Beyond the organisation

Staff are made aware that they can approach me (informally) at any time, if they need to ask for guidance or if they have any issues /problems, or just need general advice or support. They can speak to me face to face or contact me by telephone. Informal support can also be sought when working, particularly during handover, through exchanges between colleagues as well as from seniors. There is also a formal support system available through regular supervision with a regular ‘set’ agenda, but any issues /concerns can be discussed to allow for continual professional development (see below) (refer to supervision policy and a copy of the supervision template). The benefits of having CPD (continual professional development) are that it helps ensure that the service user benefits from a high quality service with knowledgeable and experienced staff. This is achieved by identifying areas of development that are relevant and supportive to all involved. It also helps maintain and increase competence and confidence. It allows the staff team to update and improve knowledge, develop expertise and provides challenges and helps maintain motivation. The GSCC (General Social Care Council), although the Council ended in 2012 there still exists (under the Skills for Care - a Code of Practice) specific requirements. Section 3 states that; as a social care employer you must provide training and development opportunities to enable social care workers to strengthen and develop their skills and knowledge. CPD is a mandatory part of the role and the NMS (National Minimum Standards) Standard 18 states that; children are looked after by staff who are trained and competent to meet their needs. And that staff receive high quality training to enhance their individual skills and to keep them up-to-date with professional and legal developments. Also at Ofsted inspection, one of the issues discussed is the type, amount and frequency of training and I have to produce a matrix to show all developmental needs of staff are being met. Staff are supported to use training through the Local Authority. The YP placed is a ………. child, so this gives us access to their annual training programme. We also use outside agencies such as ‘Just ONE’ who specialise in the fields of education, social care, health & housing. Staff developmental needs are identified through supervision and staff are actively encouraged to use the programme to address their needs. As an RM, I will also suggest certain training if I feel that the staff member may benefit or may need a refresher on a particularly subject. If the need arises I will source specific training; for instance, the YP placed is diagnosed with Autism and is prescribed a controlled drug. Although we do not have to be medically trained, I felt that the staff team (including myself) should be familiar with administration /effects etc. I approached the LAC (Looked After Children) nurse and arranged for a training session. It was delivered (and accredited) as a Medicines Management programme. There is also in house training, working with NVQ CCYP & CWDC standards. Induction training is in line with CWDC standards.

One of the barriers to professional development within our organisation is that at the moment we only have one house up and running and only employ weekend staff who all have full time jobs through the week (some work evenings). Although we have no training budget as such, and most of our training is offered for free through the placing authority, the training on offer is very basic. We do have to access outside agencies to deliver some of the training and have used ‘Just ONE’ training agency that delivers more specific and in depth training aimed at social care services. They offer a d specific training course on subjects such as behaviour management. This training is often in depth and over two days, so is time consuming and costly. One of the problems we have encountered is that the staff do not want to use their holiday entitlement up by taking days off (understandably). Working in the evening it impacts on their personal life. To overcome this we offer not just to pay for the course but to also pay the staff an hourly rate for the time that they are on the training. Another problem is that it is not local (it’s based in Liverpool). I have asked that the company if the trainers could come to our place of work, but this has been refused because the numbers are too low. I have suggested that we could join in with another smaller company (something that I have done before) and am still waiting for them to organise it. Another barrier is the fact that the staff do not view their job with us as their main role and often their outlook /attitude comes across as quite lethargic. I understand that for some, going on training is too time consuming because they have other professional as well as personal commitments. Hopefully when we get a 2nd referral in the next house and we have full time staff some of these barriers will be easier to overcome. Also, when I had a Compliance review it was commented on that I was not investing in my staff team, because I was not encouraging them to go through us (so to speak). I did challenge this and posed the question as to what difference it made who they were nominated by.

Standard 18.1 to 3 of the NMS requires that children are looked after by staff who are trained and competent to meet their needs. It is an expectation that staff receive high quality training to enhance their individual skills and to keep them up-to-date with professional and legal developments. It is also expected that the learning and development programme is evaluated for effectiveness at least annually and if necessary is updated. After being confirmed in post all staff have a full induction day (refer to template) which ‘covers’ all aspects of the role including policy and legislation. They are also delivered ‘in house training’ and can access the various training on offer beyond the organisation. Areas for professional development are discussed at supervision and staff can request a particular form of training. If I feel that they need to familiarise themselves with particular aspects or need a more in depth understanding, then I will source specific training and recommend it. Standard 18.5 of the NMS states that all new staff engaged from the commencement of the NMS (in April 2011) are to hold the level 3 Children & Young Peoples Workforce Diploma which must include mandatory social care units; or be working towards the Diploma within 6 months of confirmation of employment. All staff that I employ must fit our requested criteria (grading system). If they have not acquired a Level 3 CCYP, or equivalent then they must have had at least 3 years’ experience in the field and have substantial professional training throughout those 3 years. All original certificates are requested at interview. The interview process is such that the questions asked and the examples requested gives me a good idea of the candidates knowledge base. STANDARD 19 of the NMS states that staff are supported and guided to fulfil their roles and provide a high quality service to children, and that , staff and registered person, are properly managed, supported and understand to whom they are accountable. It is also a requirement that staff and the registered manager have access to support and advice, and are provided with regular supervision by appropriately qualified and experienced staff. Also that staff have their performance individually and formally appraised at least annually and this appraisal takes into account any views of children the service is providing for. It is also a requirement that a written or electronic record is kept by the home detailing the time and date and length of each supervision held for each member of staff, including the registered person. The record is signed by the supervisor and the member of staff at the end of the supervision. All discussion and content of staff supervisions and appraisal is recorded and a copy is given to the supervisee; a copy is kept on file (locked). Staff sign each document and the supervision is also recorded in the Homes Log book (date / time / duration). At Compliance visits and Ofsted inspection the records can be accessed, however because of the confidential nature, they are shown in a way that does not disclose any private information about the person. Standard 19 of the NMS states that the home is provided and managed by those who are suitable to work with children and have the appropriate skills, experience and qualifications to deliver an efficient and effective service. It recommends that the registered manager has a good knowledge and experience of law and practice relating to looked after children; a recognised social work qualification or a professional qualification relevant to working with children at least at level 4. My experience is such that I fulfil all of the requirements and prior to being given the status, a ‘fit persons’ questionnaire has to be completed and an interview takes place. I also access regular training that is on offer through the local authority. I am also a member of the Chamber of Commerce and can access guidance and support to enhance my professional development. I can approach my ‘Reg 33’ visitor who does my supervision monthly and can be approached informally for guidance. The National Minimum Standards requires the home is reviewed monthly under Regulation 33 of The Children’s Homes Regulations 2001 by a person who is not directly concerned with the conduct of the home. To keep abreast of current training I attend a service provider’s forum regularly which highlights current needs, in terms of changes in policy or new requirements or any new or further training that can be accessed. All staff training is recorded on a training plan (Ofsted requirement) and is regularly reviewed to ensure that developmental objectives are attained.

It is important to reflect on one’s practice, reflection is an active process of witnessing one’s own experience in order to take a closer look at it, sometimes the experience can be a brief process, but often it is to explore it in greater depth. The key to reflection is learning how to develop the ability to explore and question our own experience. By examining our actions it gives the opportunity for purposeful learning about our work and our life events, before, during or after it has occurred. Reflecting on struggles gives us the opportunity to examine what is working and not working, which often leads to a greater understanding of the nature of a challenge we are facing. An example could be a clash between our values and an approach that is being used in our work life. This presents a dilemma and can lead to having to adjust our actions to bring them in line our values. Reflecting on experiences that we are uncertain of can highlight the various ways in which the approach we are taking is not specific, In this case one would need to reflect on the challenges that may be thrown up; challenging experiences create particularly powerful opportunities for learning. Part of the challenge could be a decision making process where one would question if there is a need for problem-solving or do we just accept what is not defined.

There are many models of reflective practice; Kolb was highly influenced by the research conducted by Dewey and Piaget in the 1970s. Kolb’s reflective model highlights the concept of experiential learning and is centered around the transformation of information into knowledge. This takes place after the situation has occurred and entails a practitioner reflecting on the experience, gaining a general understanding of the concepts encountered during the experience and then testing these general understandings on a new situation. In this way the knowledge that is gained from a situation is continuously applied and reapplied building on a practitioner’s prior experiences and knowledge. Kolb's experiential learning style theory is typically represented by a four stage learning cycle in which the learner 'touches all the bases':

1. Concrete Experience - (a new experience of situation is encountered, or a reinterpretation of existing experience).

2. Reflective Observation (of the new experience. Of particular importance are any inconsistencies between experience and understanding).

3. Abstract Conceptualization (Reflection gives rise to a new idea, or a modification of an existing abstract concept).

4. Active Experimentation (the learner applies them to the world around them to see what results).

Gibbs model of reflective practice is a more straight forward model. His ‘stages’ are very clear when the process is broken down:

1. Description: this is context of the event .e.g. Who was there? Why were you there? What was happening? 2. Feelings: thoughts, this is self-awareness .e.g. How did you feel? How did the others around you feel? How did you feel about the outcome of the event? 3. Evaluation: Consider your judgments.eg. Consider what went well, what not so well. What was good and not so good about your experience 4. Analysis: Break down the event and explore each part separately, here you may need to ask yourself more detailed questions. 5. Conclusion: This is the synthesis. During this stage you should be exploring what you could have done differently. 6. Action plan: Consider what you would do differently if you encountered this situation again. Would you act differently or do the same?

Reflective practice is the capacity to reflect on action so as to engage in a process of continuous learning; this for me is vital to improve development and allow a person to move forward by looking back and analysing if things could have been done better or different, which ultimately improves and enhances performance. The type of situations that we encounter in professional child care is often fluid and has to be given individuality. What works for one person does not always apply in the same situation with another person. Both cycles were developed to be able to be used in any learning situation and cover the same basic steps (experience, reflection and planning), either model can be used in any learning experience. The Kolb Cycle was developed to enable educators to review their own teaching to promote continuous development. The Gibbs Cycle was created a few years later and is basically an expanded, more detailed version of the Kolb Cycle. Referring to the Kolb Cycle, Graham Gibbs, a professor at the University of Oxford, argued: "It is not enough just to do, and neither is it enough just to think. Nor is it enough simply to do and think. Learning from experience must involve linking the doing and the thinking." 

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