With a wide variety of roles and skills required in the care sector, finding a trainer who is willing and available to come and teach your staff the skills they need is a difficult enough task. Finding one who is an industry expert in CQC standards is another thing entirely.
Different roles have contextual challenges too, so your staff may need additional training to cope with new responsibilities, even if they’ve worked in care for a number of years. Some of their skills will be useful throughout their careers, but some skills are more specific. They can change as policies change and as service-user needs are better understood.
Your staff will need to take a different approach when caring for people with dementia, diabetes or mental health issues, handling medications, preventing infection, working with people with physical disabilities or autism, or even dealing with end of life care. It’s therefore not practical or cost-efficient to bring in expert trainers for every skill or role required in the care sector.
This is why distance learning is a great option for caregivers.
E-learning for caregivers
E-learning courses are now so popular, in fact, that the growth of distance learning is actually outpacing the number of new students enrolling in courses in the broader educational environment. These statistics show that over 70 percent of institutions have some form of distance learning module available.
Projections from the US National Centre for Education Statistics show that by 2026, there will be more part-time distance learners than full-time students.
It’s not always plain sailing, but the reality is that staff can still get nationally-recognised qualifications from the comfort of their living room, while dealing with children, elderly parents or any other home-based responsibilities.
The problems with learning online
There are specific challenges in engaging the care workforce in distance learning. For example, according to Skills for Care’s 2018 report, the average age of workers in the industry in England is 43 years old, with almost 25 percent aged 55 or over. These staff may find it more difficult that their junior colleagues to switch over from a more traditional face-to-face learning environment. That is why having an easy-to-use learning management system is key.
There are also technical barriers. For example, learners in rural areas may not have perfect internet connectivity. Or, people may not have access to devices.
Luckily, smartphones using 4G mobile data are a decent backup when broadband problems pop up, and most people have at least one device, so the options are rapidly increasing.
Distance learning benefits:
Huge time savings
With no need to send your caregivers off-site or transport them all to a training centre, there is a vast reduction in time out of work. Distance learning is accessible to all, whether they drive or not, or if they have mobility issues of their own.
E-learning gives everyone the best teacher possible, whereas live classroom learning is always dependent on the quality of a teacher and their approach on the day.
Flexibility for learners
The distance learner is fully in control of the process and can start and finish whenever they see fit. Grab 20 minutes here and there in between appointments, or study for hours when the kids have gone to bed: it’s up to them. The learning can fit around childcare or other pressing responsibilities.
Flexibility for the business
Getting 20 people in a room (and covering their duties) is practically impossible in today’s stretched environments. This is especially true in the health care sector, which has a lot of part-time workers and shift work. With e-learning, there is no need to gather learners together. This simplifies logistics and scheduling.
Learn at their own pace
While you would hope that no-one is left behind in a centralised classroom environment, a trainer’s attention can only stretch so far. Distance learning gives staff and students the time they need to grasp complex materials at their own speed. There’s less chance they’ll get bored and disengaged waiting for slower learners to catch up, or be forced to or gloss over sections to suit those who pick things up a little quicker.
Expect lower costs
Without the need to hire out physical classrooms and book staff time off work, distance learning is normally cheaper than face-to-face training. Course materials can be made available and saved online instead of being printed out, and are more easily referred to further down the line. This means you can spread your training budget further.
Managing the training of your staff doesn’t have to be a headache. If you can give your employees the right incentives, time and direction for learning, they will thrive in their online personal development.