Excellence Network 2009 Training category

The Excellence Network recognises achievement in social care. Honoured teams will be invited to the presentation at this year’s Community Care LIVE on 13 May. The Excellence Network recognises achievement in five key areas. This week Natasha Salari reports on the teams honoured for exceptional training and development

Organisation: Four Seasons Health Care

Project: Pearl project

Client group: Older people

Location: Staffordshire based/nationwide

A project to develop dementia care in a small group of Four Seasons Health Care homes has been so successful that plans are under way to roll-out the programme to a further 50 homes.

The Positively Enriching And Enhancing Residents’ Lives (Pearl) project, run by the Dementia Care Development Team at Four Seasons, has led to a reduction of more than half in the use of psychotropic medication in the independent provider’s homes.

The team made visits to 10 homes to offer support and managers were able to exchange ideas at workshops. Most of the staff at the homes received training in person-centred care and at least two staff in every home received university accredited training in judging the needs of people with dementia by observing behaviour.

Staff in each home were offered training where they experience first-hand what it is like to be a service user in a simulation.

Unannounced visits were made to the homes to carry out a series of interviews and observations. Successful homes will be inspected yearly.

Judge’s comments

“Very relevant and timely entry for the implementation of the Dementia Strategy successfully tackling some challenging areas. It demonstrates a big impact and is effective with clear outcomes. Well done!”

Annie Stevenson, head of older people’s services, Social Care Institute for Excellence

Organisation: Stoke-on-Trent Council

Project: Riverside Employment Training Service

Client group: Learning disability

Location: Stoke-on-Trent

More than 40 people with a learning disability have been supported into paid or voluntary employment over the past five months by the Riverside Employment Training Service in Stoke-on-Trent.

Working in partnership with an older people’s accommodation provider, the service, which comes under the jurisdiction of the council’s adult social care department, has created a café that offers training and work to service users. There is also a conference facility where trainees, with staff support, are responsible for bookings, reception and hospitality.

The service has agreed partnerships with all departments in the council to offer work placements to people with learning disabilities. It is also working with local colleges to teach courses that result in nationally recognised qualifications. A Smart Start course is offered to people using the service, which is delivered in-house and prepares service users for work by focusing on CV preparation, interview skills, appearance and behaviour at work.

Judge’s comments

“This project was ambitious, aiming to support people with learning disabilities into meaningful employment, despite the difficult economic climate. Yet within a short time it has succeeded, thanks to some excellent partnerships and a highly creative, problem-solving approach.”

Su Sayer, chief executive, United Response

Organisation: The Tyne and Wear Care Alliance

Project: Pathways Into Care

Client group: Older people

Location: Sunderland

A partnership between councils an employers is tackling problems with recruiting staff in the independent care sector in Tyne and Wear.

The Pathways Into Care project, run by the Tyne and Wear Care Alliance, gives unemployed people an insight into working in the care sector, provides them with pre-employment training and then matches them with actual job vacancies. More than 700 care sector employers and five local authorities have formed the alliance, which also has links with Jobcentre Plus and Skills for Care.

Unemployed people interested in care work are recruited at jobs fairs and then given information on care work and the types of jobs available before being offered training and mentoring. Training can take the form of workshops on CV preparation or the development of specific skills in areas such as manual lifting.

The project is exceeding all targets set by the alliance and has given information and guidance to over 200 people, offering 120 people tailored training and helping 70 of those people obtain permanent jobs.

Judge’s comments

“This is a unique strategic partnership to tackle workforce issues which is critical for the future of social care. It’s great to see another kind of alliance having far-reaching effects.”

Annie Stevenson, head of older people’s services, Social Care Institute for Excellence

Team: Cumbria Council

Project: Needs Led Outcome Focus Project

Client group: Children and families

Location: Cumbria

The Organisational Learning and Development Team at Cumbria Council has developed a project that looks at how the needs of children can be met, rather than focusing on the services children should receive.

Audits were carried out by the team, which involved multi-agency teams looking at the needs of a sample of children across children’s services. Several issues were identified including trauma, loss, and parental substance misuse.

The project involves setting up learning sessions in four areas to enable managers to support each other’s learning and reflect on problems. Learning sessions are based around areas such as core assessments or writing care plans to meet children’s needs.

The plans aim to meet the ambitions of the Every Child Matters agenda.

Liz McKie, the acting county manager for organisational learning and development, says: “The team are using an exciting and ambitious approach. The action learning sessions enable participants to take ownership of their learning by coming up with their own solutions.”

Judge’s comments

“An impressive entry showing a thorough approach to learning and development, going the extra mile in demonstrating excellence.”

Clare Tickell, chief executive, Action for Children

Organisation: Barnardo’s

Project: Hamara Family Project

Client group: Disability

Location: Waltham Forest

The Hamara Family Project works with more than 370 disabled children and their families in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. Over the past 10 years it has had a big increase in the number of children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) referred to the project, especially children under the age of five. The project has now trained more than 100 parents who can work alongside early years staff to show them how to respond effectively to their children.

Project staff were sent on the National Autistic Society’s EarlyBird programme, an early intervention programme for parents of children aged five and under. Training is run two or three times a year by the staff and is free to parents. Another programme, the EarlyBird Plus, trains teachers and parents of children aged five to eight.

Hamara also delivers training to parents and practitioners on a range of topics including play skills, sexual health and plans for use in the classroom. A behaviour management consultant is available to work with parents and children at home and with staff in schools.

“It isn’t fair that children with ASD fall at the first fence when it comes to the education system and equally unfair that parents are left to struggle to cope,” says Ruth Watson, the children’s services manager for the project. “We have led the way in promoting the fact that children with autism must have their needs met if they are to stay in mainstream schools.”

Judge’s comments

“A training scheme that seems to be clearly focused and well-planned. If I were the parent of an autistic child, this is exactly the kind of scheme I hope would be available to me.”

Simon Heng, disability writer and activist

Organisation: Sahil

Client group: Mental health/substance misuse

Location: Coventry

Asian women experiencing stress, isolation and depression are improving their self-confidence and self-esteem by using the services provided by the Sahil project in Coventry.

The organisation was set up to address problems arising from discrimination, cultural and language barriers and racism faced by Asian women from deprived areas.

Sahil operates an open-door, drop-in facility where women can receive advice and guidance. Women are supported to deal with problems arising in their lives relating to health, housing, welfare and their children’s schooling.

A befriending service is also provided at the centre or in the women’s homes and teaching is offered in subjects such as English, computers and yoga. Several service users have become involved in teaching each other skills such as knitting, fabric painting or playing instruments at self-help groups.

Sahil recruits and trains volunteers by having two recruitment drives each year. Volunteers receive Open College Network accredited training in basic counselling, first aid, mental health, domestic violence, child protection and food and hygiene. Some women who initially use the project as service users go on to train as volunteers.

Rani Saund, the centre manager, says: “Often the women who come to us have very low self-esteem so we encourage them to go on to further training or employment. We want to empower these women and build their self-confidence so that they can go on to achieve their aspirations.”

Judge’s comments

“A good example of a grassroots project using service user training as a means of empowering people with mental health problems from an ethnic minority community.”

Paul Jenkins, chief executive, Rethink

Published in Community Care 23 April 2009 edition

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