So what’s the plan?

Recruitment is not just a problem for social care organisations,
as higher education institutions are finding. They have had
difficulty attracting quality teaching staff and there are also
concerns about how up-to-date some staff are on policy and
practice. Added to this is a worrying demographic picture which
indicates that a high proportion of the teaching staff are older
than 50. All of which suggests an increasing need for quality
education in social care.

To address these concerns, the Strategic Learning and Research
Advisory Group (StLaR), chaired jointly by the permanent
secretaries of the Department of Health and Department for
Education and Skills, established a project team to develop a human
resources plan in health and social care. In December 2003, the
team produced an account of the needs, which included:

  • Greater awareness of career opportunities in education and
  • Improved career pathways with greater flexibility and reward
    mechanisms which reflect and protect the philosophy of high-quality
    teaching, scholarly activity and the sustainability of the
    researcher workforce.
  • Improved workforce intelligence to consider issues such as
    gender and age profiles and ethnic diversity.
  • Improved strategic partnerships between service organisations
    and the education sector.

    In 2004 the project team consulted through focus groups,
    stakeholder events and a web-based questionnaire. In November it
    submitted its final report to the DH and DfES including its 15
    recommendations and costed proposals for implementing the plan.
    These are now being discussed within the two departments, with
    announcements expected soon.

    The project team’s vision was “to provide a human resources plan to
    develop and sustain a world-class workforce of educators and
    researchers for the health, social care and education economies
    thus contributing to health improvement, excellent patient/service
    user care and safety through education and research”.

    The recommendations were grouped into three themes: strategic
    drivers and government/national policy; employment practices and
    changes of culture; data gathering and associated studies to be

    Within the first theme, one recommendation was to immediately
    implement a human resources plan for the educator and researcher
    workforce in health and social care, developed systematically with
    existing HR strategies available for the health, education and
    social care spheres.

    There was also a recommendation that all students on professional
    courses should be taught the basic skills of teaching and research
    awareness for service users’ benefit. And employers should have a
    duty to support education and research which should be evidenced to
    the Commission for Social Care Inspection. The commission has taken
    responsibility for implementing this recommendation. The team also
    wanted a recruitment and awareness campaign aimed at drawing
    practitioners into education and research, driven jointly by DH,
    DfES and social care employers.

    Under the theme of employment practices and changes of culture,
    recommendations included: pay modernisation processes should ensure
    that advanced practitioners can fulfil their obligations towards
    education and research by requiring their employment contracts to
    be explicit about support for teaching and research

    Managers should be supported in developing employees’ career
    options as educators and researchers in annual reviews and
    information-gathering exercises. More work is needed on developing
    career pathway exemplars to build on those gathered during the
    consultation. This work will be included in the development of an
    employers’ guide. Conditions of service in other countries most
    likely to prove attractive alternative destinations for our health
    and social care academics should be monitored. Structures and
    systems in this country should be calibrated accordingly.

    On data-gathering, the government should extend the national
    training numbers for academics scheme in medicine and dentistry
    (where there are specifically funding target numbers) to other
    health and social care professions. A labour market intelligence
    system to provide continuous accurate data on the employment and
    disposition of the research and educator workforce for health and
    social care should be developed without delay. And a five-year
    planning survey should be undertaken to determine workforce demand
    for educators and researchers in health and social care.

    An e-consultation between August and September 2004 went to NHS
    trusts, social services departments, higher and further education
    institutions, funding bodies for education and research, trade
    unions, regulatory and professional bodies, voluntary and private
    sector employers and service user groups. Consultees were asked to
    provide organisational responses to the following:

  • Appropriateness of the exemplar career pathways.
  • National, local and organisational drivers, barriers, critical
    success factors.
  • Resources – human and financial.
  • Examples of good practice.
  • Characteristics of the teaching and research world in

    A detailed analysis of the responses is available on the StLaR
    website, including specific responses from social care.

    It is evident from the consultation responses that there is strong
    support for the strategic direction of the HR plan. There is much
    that can be developed at national level working with, for example,
    the Commission for Social Care Inspection to develop education
    standards for social care organisations which reinforce the
    employer responsibilities in the code of conduct. This will assist
    in focusing on the education agenda by placing it within the
    regulatory framework as it is imperative that education through
    teaching and research is recognised and sustained as a core
    activity in social care.

    There is support for improving research/teaching awareness and
    portfolio career development within professional training which can
    be achieved by working with the General Social Care Council. This
    underpins the philosophy that career development and identification
    of potential academics should begin as early as possible. There is
    more work to be done at local level to ensure that national
    strategic drivers are fit for purpose at the point of delivery and
    it is clear from many respondents that they wish to see the project
    team engage further with other initiatives that support clinical
    academic staff in health and social care.

    Some of the costed proposals will need more money but some could be
    met by using some existing funding differently. Proposals include
    the extension of learning resource centres to 2010 – currently they
    are funded until March 2006; developing best practice guidance in
    teaching and research in social care; funding to be used for
    sabbaticals and practice secondments for teaching staff; and
    improving the infrastructure in higher education, further education
    and employment structures.

    Meanwhile, the DH and DfES have set up a joint implementation group
    to look at how to implement the proposals.

    Training & Learning

    The author has provided questions about this article to guide
    discussion in teams. These can be viewed at and individuals’ learning from the
    discussion can be registered on a free, password-protected training
    log held on the site. This is a service from Community Care for all
    GSCC-registered professionals.


    This article looks at the work of the Strategic Learning and
    Research Advisory Group’s project team and its aim to raise the
    quality and quantity of teaching and research in social care.

    Further information
    The report is not published yet, but it is on the StLaR

    Contact the author

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