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Training the heavyweight champions of social care

Discovery Latest
29 November 2018

Muhammad Ali is quoted as saying, “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ”Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”

It’s hard to imagine anything more different than heavyweight boxing and social care, but I think Ali’s mindset can help all of us when faced with training requirements that, frankly, on any given day we’d probably rather not do.

By now you have probably seen my colleague Chris’ blog where he talked about the employee research conducted by Dimensions, and what it means for us at Discovery. If you haven’t read that yet, I urge you to do so.

Amongst other things, that research looked at skills. 83% of the 530 respondents said their job had given them new medical knowledge and understanding. 81% highlighted teamwork. 77% talked about improvements to their problem solving abilities. 53% even said they know themselves better now.

What a brilliant set of new life skills.

But the survey didn’t ask about many of those skills that we deem essential: care act training, fire safety, moving and handling, and so many more.

It prompted me to look again at our training offer and, hopefully, to bust a few myths.


Like all Discovery colleagues, I am required to have 100% training compliance. No colleague can be signed off their probation unless they have completed all their courses. This has been installed from Day 1 at Discovery and has meant that a few colleagues (including a couple of senior colleagues) having their probation period extended for a short period in order to complete their training.

I make no apology for being stringent about this. It’s the very least that the people we support and their families deserve. As a colleague once said to me, ‘you wouldn’t want your car’s brakes fixed by someone untrained!’

Learning formats

Much of our training is e-learning and yes, it is possible to do the courses quite quickly if you know your stuff. Great! E-learning is available at any time/day/place which works for you, and that means we’re much more likely to manage to get everyone fully trained. It’s much more efficient than if it were classroom based. The e-learning is just the start; concepts are also discussed in team meetings and in discussions with colleagues to expand understanding.  Of course, e-learning is not right for all topics and deciding what will be e-learning and what must be face-to-face – such as active support, person centred thinking and inclusive communication – can sometimes be difficult.

Care Certificate

I wanted to reconnect with what it is like for new colleagues, so I recently re- registered to complete the Care Certificate (which I’ve just done and ‘phew!’) This really challenged me, so I share some of their pain. The Care Certificate is vital in establishing a shared minimum level of knowledge, skills and behaviours across our workforce and acts as a gateway to our more advanced learning.


We know that our multi award-winning Aspire programme makes a positive difference.  Only last week another Discovery colleague emailed me “to pass on my gratitude regarding my place on the Aspire programme”, describing it as “a wonderful programme and opportunity this is, I am enjoying every moment and grabbing the opportunity with both hands”.  I hear this so often from colleagues.

Leadership training

A glance at CQC reports will show the importance they attach to service leadership. In the same vein, the Discovery leadership team benefits from leadership support from a couple of specialist agencies, both as a group and in partnership with Dimensions.

New developments

More can be done. We know we need to continuously develop our offer, especially to help colleagues in new roles at every level. The first weeks in an organisation are paramount; that’s why our current focus is on improving induction.

Our new locality managers, better practice leads and locality co-ordinators will be receiving a brand new bespoke development programme. Locality managers in turn hold a budget to offer local training and support to their teams, as they see fit.

But it can’t stop there. As an open and learning organisation we always need to be inquisitive and curious. We need to look at how we can make change ‘beyond our boundaries.’ That’s why, early next year, In-Control will run a ‘Partners in policymaking’ programme for hopefully 40-60 local people who have a passion to shape change within Somerset.  In the coming weeks we will be advertising this intense but valuable course.  One which I, and perhaps you if you sign up, will be writing future blogs about. Because, to misquote Ali again: Let’s not count the days. Let’s make the days count!