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Using HNC units to upskill existing HCSWs

Toby A. Mohammed, Head of Practice Development (Acute Services) from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde was involved in testing a new educational approach to HCSW education, to allow existing members of the workforce to take on more complex work. This was achieved by adapting existing HNC units to meet their educational needs, and working collaboratively with Cardonald College, negotiating the content and how the programme would be delivered.

Toby explained that

'After looking at the options, we decided that the HNC units were the best fit for our situation. We needed to match the education with the wider workforce requirements and withwhat we knew had worked before in our area. We also had to take into account was feasible for staff in the clinical areas.'

Some of the key factors and issues we identified in this initiative were:

  • Take time to plan, negotiate and get everything in place. This helps make initiatives like this work and took around a year in this case
  • Work collaboratively and understand the different perspectives of everyone involved to ensure that the education provided meets service needs
  • Put effective communication channels into place and get key people involved from the start. This is crucial
  • Ensure that support is there for the HCSWs and the staff supporting them
  • Remember, making a change in one team role impacts on the whole team
  • Education, workplace experience and support can allow HCSWs to develop their skills, knowledge and confidence in carrying out more complex activities. This can enable registered staff to develop their roles in new ways

Key messages are:

  • You need to clearly identify the new activities that you want the HCSW to do and match the education to these, also to work out what is feasible
  • Communication and negotiation at all levels are key to making it work
    This type of role development is not right for all HCSWs
  • Staff in the clinical areas need to understand the education and experience that the HCSWs are going through to be able to support them well
  • Remember that changes in the HCSWs role impact on the whole team
  • For HCSWs, education and support to develop their skills and knowledge has a big impact on HCSWs confidence, skills and on the care they provide

Download and read the full Using HNC units to upskill existing HCSWs case study.