Pink clipboard with large blue tick check mark. Hand drawn image.Or, “can I have a list of the correct answers?”

Eddie, our Service Management and Customer Relationship Manager takes five minutes out to explain why the correct answer is often as unique as the person asking the question. It’s why we love person-centred learning.

When we’re dealing with person-centred care, and person-centred learning there isn’t always a stock ‘correct answer’. People are unique, and our solution is specifically designed to allow flexibility when assessing and ‘marking’ questions. It makes our system unique and for you and your team, it is one of the biggest benefits of partnering with The Grey Matter Group.

Eddie explains further: let’s take a look at communication and how our system would support you using a specific example. Communication has widely accepted principles of best practice which are promoted to achieve quality interactions:

  • FACT – Communication training highlights the importance of making and maintaining good eye contact
  • FACT – In some cases individuals who communicate with different methods use eye contact in a different way

In practice, an individual with autism who I worked with previously would not make eye contact most of the time. Actually, it was a known indicator that if he started to make eye contact, he was communicating that he was unhappy and needed to be given space. If staff were not aware of this then they could be encouraged by his eye contact to move closer and increase their attempts to communicate with him. Which was exactly the opposite and wrong thing to do and would result in an escalation to physical communications which posed a risk to the individual and the staff member.

Our assessment tool allows staff and managers to evidence their understanding and ability to adapt the way they provide care and support for individuals using person centred approaches. In this case, giving space and simplifying verbal communications in response to increased eye contact.

By using the It Depends and Add Evidence buttons the staff member can add explanations,examples or ask questions for their manager to review.

Managers use this evidence to support them as they decide if they are satisfied that the staff member is competent in the outcome. Where competence means that they have required knowledge, understanding and have demonstrated their ability to put this into practice for the individuals they support.

Once the manager is satisfied about the staff members competence and has evidence to support this decision then this supersedes the “correct answer” on our system and they use the “Tick box to upgrade percentage” button to mark the question as correct.

Where managers are still unsure or feel that a question is causing challenges for both them and their staff then we encourage feedback and we will support as appropriate.
This approach steps away from the tick box culture of a training matrix where just because someone has attended a training course or completed eLearning and has green in the training matrix then we can assume they are competent.

So why do CQC focus on the training matrix? It’s because it is a valuable quality assurance tool which shows you are monitoring and supporting all your staff across the required standards. But, and this is the critical bit, they check the impact of this training matrix by talking to staff, talking to the individuals they support and their families, by observing practice where appropriate and reviewing the documentation related to all of this. CQC are checking if staff have:

  • the underpinning knowledge
  • understand how this applies in their work environment and for individuals they support
  • and that their application of this knowledge and understanding results in high quality, compassionate care and support in what they do.

Which is exactly what you do when you use the online assessments:

  • Check knowledge using the assessment and deliver targeted learning against any identified knowledge gaps using the Learning Needs Overview
  • Check and develop understanding by discussing the evidence the staff member has added and ensuring they know how to apply this for the individuals they support. Usually done during supervision or induction meetings.
  • Observe practice to make certain they do this when supporting vulnerable people in sometimes very challenging circumstances. Most providers already do this through Shadow shifts, Spot checks and Customer Feedback is the best evidence as it demonstrates the individuals experience of the care and support you have observed.

It’s useful to remember that the Winterbourne View and Mid Staffordshire NHS scandals were important factors in the development of the Care Certificate. In both cases CQC had inspected these organisations and seen evidence that their staff had met all the training requirements. The Care Certificate and new model of inspection are designed to address any tick box culture based on a premise that just because a staff member has their certificates they are competent. Although the staff in these settings had the knowledge their practice was completely different (Panorama investigation into Winterbourne View – distressing content).

Our system has to have a set of notional “correct answers” otherwise everyone would always get 0% and the supervisor/assessor would have to mark every single outcome. By having a set of correct answers based on best practice and the correct application in the majority of settings we are able to quickly evidence knowledge against this. Where the responses don’t match these “correct answers” the Learning Needs Overview clearly highlights that the “following outcomes require further development”, our guidance states that staff should explain their answers. Getting the staff member to complete the Learning Needs Overview is a critical step as it dramatically reduces the time the supervisor/assessor needs to spend adding evidence and gives immediate indications on the staff members competence.

Our Support Team are on hand to guide you through any of this, it is a different way of working, we understand that. Through the many partners that use our products successfully every day we do know that working this way really does improve lives through learning.

What Pam thinks…

Working with The Grey Matter Group will undoubtedly save you time!

Using a methodology that identifies the gaps in knowledge means you can spend your valuable time focusing on what needs to be done.

Answering questions correctly provides crucial evidence of knowledge, backing this up with an observation of practice – the doing, is like gold dust.

As valuable, put perhaps even more important, is that you’ve highlighted where knowledge or practice is in need of development. Where this is identified, it gives you a brilliant opportunity to evidence you supporting your staff member and evidencing that they or you have taken the time to research this, offered a learning opportunity and further developed knowledge and skills. This is real person-centred learning with a measurable impact.

Topping everything off with observations will demonstrate to anyone who is looking at you (CQC, Local Authority Quality Leads etc), that you have a fit, safe and competent workforce committed to self-improvement – which offers the best possible outcome for the vulnerable people you work with. You really can improve lives through learning.

What are the correct answers?
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