Tackling the issue of how best to keep on top of staff training and development has been discussed for a long time — and perhaps technology is finally creating solutions. Is eLearning a way forward in staff development in the social care sector?

The demand for health and social care services has grown faster than resources can manage, causing increasing pressure on staff. Now more than ever, in order to maintain a high standard of care for patients, staff need to be equipped with the correct knowledge and skills. It is an essential requirement for staff to receive appropriate training and support in order to carry out their day-to-day tasks. However, finding the time and money to do this is never easy.

What are the Benefits of eLearning Courses?

The ‘one size fits all’ method of teaching and learning simply does not work anymore. People learn in different ways and at a varied pace, so finding new ways of training to adapt to individual learners is important. eLearning recognises this need and has transformed the way we can learn by offering engaging, interactive content, which users can consume at a time and within a schedule that suits them.

Allowing people to go at their own pace means more time can be spent on areas of learning that they are struggling with, or wish to learn more about. As all the learning material is online and retainable, users can return to any subject to refresh their memory or seek clarification on issues they are unsure about. That flexibility factor is appealing to so many staff, as work schedules can be demanding — none more so than in today’s health and social care sectors.

As well as benefiting the learner, there are some clear and cost-effective benefits of eLearning for companies, too. The fact that online courses can be taken in the workplace, at home, or wherever and whenever suits the user, means that there is no need for a venue to be hired or to pay a trainer. eLearning courses also allow managers to keep track of the progress of their employee’s training and monitor their development at all times.

Challenges for eLearning in Social Care

The common concerns about incorporating eLearning into health and social care sectors are that broad subjects can’t be discussed and explored in-depth. However, working in care requires a delicate combination of knowledge and practical skills. The best eLearning courses can equip staff with the theoretical knowledge needed to perform their job efficiently.  ELearning courses provide employees with the need-to-know information and training on a broad range of topics which are required for the job. These courses are ideal for inductions of new staff, alongside practical training to ensure they meet health and social care standards. The combination of an eLearning course and then putting the skills into practice means staff can feel equipped, confident and competent in their job role.

Enabling staff to have discussions after an eLearning course is also of key importance. A combination of eLearning and group discussions can help learners by talking about how they can use their knowledge in practical situations, specific to their working environment. Allowing a certain amount of time each week to take the online course, followed by a discussion with other staff members, can go a long way to develop a learner’s understanding and put their skills into practice.

Will eLearning Become More Popular in Social Care?

eLearning as a whole is becoming more popular and developing even further, with gamification being used more frequently in training to help engage and motivate users. eLearning in social care is a forward-thinking, accessible way for new staff to be inducted and learn the knowledge needed for work, ensuring that the highest quality of care is provided, regardless of the workload.

Like many other industries, the health and social care sector is struggling under the weight of increased workloads and decreased funding. Opting for cost-effective and flexible training plans such as eLearning, therefore, should certainly be considered a positive step towards staff development, standard of care, and overall proficiency.

About the Author: Keir McDonald is the founder and CEO of EduCare. Specialising in safeguarding courses online, EduCare provides eLearning courses for the health and social care, sport, and education sectors. In acknowledgement of his work and achievements in safeguarding children, Keir was honoured with an MBE for Services to Children in 2012.