Online training, or e-learning, has become one of the most widely used types of technology in social care and has been in use across the sector for many years. In fact, Skills for Care produced a range of resources and guides around digital training as far back as 2013. Recent research from Digital Social Care and Skills for Care shows that as of February 2021, 90% of adult social care providers in England were using online training or e-learning – up from 76% pre-pandemic. Of those using online training, 39% stated that their organisation couldn’t live without it.
When we talk about online training or e-learning, we are talking about a wide range of different types of software and platforms. E-Learning can range from free, recorded webinars hosted on YouTube or on sector specific platforms such as Heath Education England’s Learning Hub, e-Learning for Healthcare or the Skills for Care website, to fully developed training and learning management platforms. Our research didn’t discriminate between what providers meant when they discussed online training/e-learning and so it is difficult to know the exact number of care providers who are adopting learning management platforms across their organisations.
A learning management platform will, broadly speaking, do two things:
- Host a range of e-learning modules for staff in all roles. Some learning management platforms create this themselves; some allow care organisations to create their own which is then hosted on the platform.
- Track user’s learning. This allows managers to have an oversight of training completed, time taken and scores.
For organisations who have already dipped their toes into using online training or bitesize e-learning on specific topics, a learning management system may seem to be the logical next step.
Organisations report numerous benefits to using learning management platforms, particularly in terms of the reduction in administrative burden on staff. Because all of the training is in one place, it makes producing reports for CQC particularly easy and also allows managers to be able to review staff training records at the touch of a button. Some organisations also report cost savings as they don’t have to pay for room hire and trainers for all day sessions as staff can access the training online at any time.
For home care providers, this flexibility can be especially helpful as staff can complete training at home rather than having to travel into the office to do it. For those who are environmentally minded, this can also reduce the carbon footprint associated with travel. Over the past year, Digital Social Care have been speaking to providers who have been using learning management platforms such as Qintil and Grey Matter Learning to move either all or part of their training online and people have been enthusiastic about the benefits.
When considering purchasing any type of technology, it is always important to:
- consider the outcomes you want to achieve from using the technology;
- engage early on with the people in your team who will actually be using it, so that the team can buy in from the get-go;
- do your research.
There are lots of different systems out there and only you know what would be best for your organisation. For example, it may be important that any learning management software you choose will interoperate with the technology you already have such as a HR System or Payroll. There are lots of resources available to help you decide, such as Skills for Care’s endorsed provider list or CASPA’s whitepaper ‘Digital Learning & Learning Management Systems within Care Organisations’ which was co-written by Altura Learning and My Learning Cloud.
Katie Thorn, Digital Engagement Manager, at the Registered Nursing Home Association (RNHA) and Project Manager of Digital Social Care