Project shows benefits of multi-skilling

A project in north Derbyshire is improving recruitment and
retention of older people’s care workers through redefining their
role and skills.

The NHS changing workforce programme piloted a one-year project
where domiciliary staff assisted clients with taking medication
rather than district nurses. The pilot was in association with the
National Service Framework for Older People.

Under the trial, clients’ needs for medication were assessed by a
social work manager in liaison with district nurses and community
pharmacists. If it was decided that care workers could assist with
administering medication such as eye drops as long as they were
trained by district nurses in how to do this.

In some areas, the pilot reduced the number of visits clients
received by half. Once care workers took on the role of
administering drugs, district nurses were able to concentrate on
patients with more acute needs.

Social care staff also worked closely with community rehabilitation
teams and occupational therapists to assist clients to stay at
home, gradually reducing the amount of intensive care they needed.

A new role of a health and social care assistant was also created.
As well as helping the person with basic every day living tasks,
the assistant helps with health care such as taking blood pressure
and blood samples, and administers medication.

Penny Shuttleworth, a workforce designer with the changing
workforce programme, said that in the areas where the new role was
introduced, staff absenteeism had been reduced to 3 per cent and
the vacancy rate to 9 per cent.

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