Care workers compete in bid to be UK’s top care worker

Last week 10 care workers displayed their case management skills before two judges in London in a bid to become the UK's top care worker. Kirsty McGregor reports

Last week 10 care workers displayed their case management skills before two judges in London in a bid to become the UK’s top care worker. Kirsty McGregor reports

Many social care workers will face a challenge like having to assess the needs of a 70-year-old osteoarthritis sufferer who has just lost his wife.

But not many will do it in front of two judges and a photographer with a zoom lens.

Yet this is exactly what 10 care workers had to do in London last week, as they took part in the final of the first WorldSkills UK Caring Competition.

Finalists had 45 minutes to review a hypothetical care plan. This included 35 minutes of direct interaction with a professional actor who had been briefed to show signs of depression.

Then the care workers had 30 minutes to implement the plan by helping the client to fulfil one of his personal goals: in this case, attending a friend’s birthday party.

Organised by the National Skills Academy for Social Care (NSA) and UK Skills, the competition was open to anyone working in, or training for, the social care sector over the age of 16.

Three earlier regional heats were held at Leicester College, St Helens College, Merseyside. and Telford College, Edinburgh

David Sherlock, chair of the NSA, presented the awards last week. He told the competitors: “The Academy is only around six months old, but our whole purpose is to encourage people like you.”

Pictured: Worldskills competition final 2010. David Sherlock with medal winners (from left) Linsay Giess (bronze), Laura McKay (silver), Philomena McCormick (silver) and Chantelle Challender (gold). Top: Bradley Brandon was highly commended. Below: Chantelle Challender


Jennifer Bernard, programme director, National Skills Academy for Social Care

“We prepared for the competition by talking to employers, trying to make sure we were up-to-date with care practice and working out which care tasks we could break down so the judges could use them for marking.

“Chantelle won because she went beyond the obvious tasks and used her personality and professional skills to build up a relationship with the client. They explored what could be done together. Three things are important in a care worker: personality; training and skills development; and an ability to reflect on what has already been done. They also have to know how to do things safely, and how to adapt what they know to the individual every time.

“I have been inspired by the competitors and impressed by their talent. We need to encourage people to consider a career in social care and then encourage people to stay in that career – so we have to get them excited about it.”


Chantelle Challender, 25, assistant manager at Glenthorne House, Wolverhampton

“I thought I did so badly. When they said I’d run out of time, I hadn’t finished or recorded anything in the care plan. But I think I covered everything when I was talking to the client, which is the most important thing. That meant he could make the decisions.

“Sometimes you have to give people your time and sort out other things like the laundry another day. I also tried to treat him with dignity and respect. You never tell someone they can’t do something because of their disability.

“Now I’ve won, I feel so much more confident because I must be doing something right. Sometimes I feel like all I do is paperwork, so this was an opportunity to test myself on actually delivering care. When you work in care you feel like you always have to prove yourself. I don’t think people recognise the work that we do. People seem to think I just wash and dress clients but it’s more than that. It’s not just about carrying out certain tasks; it’s about seeing and helping the person.”

What is the National Skills Academy for Social Care?

Launched in October 2009, the National Skills Academy for Social Care helps adult social care employers to deliver improved services by focussing on leadership, management and commissioning.

It was the brain child of Denise Platt, former chair of the Commission for Social Care Inspection, who called for it in her Status of Social Care report in April 2007.

She said existing training arrangements did not provide “a coherent and flexible framework” for the development and support of social care leaders.

The NSA was allocated £9m from the Department of Health and £3m from the Learning and Skills Council for its first three years. After that, it will be entirely funded through employers.

The second intake to its graduate trainee scheme, due to start in September, will be placed with employers across the sector for a year of learning about leadership and management in the sector.

The NSA has also developed and launched a quality kite mark for training providers, and is currently piloting a Leadership in the Frontline programme.

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