A major challenge facing Merton was how to overcome poor take-up of training that, although important, was not compulsory.
E-learning presented a possible solution, providing the opportunity for busy staff to undertake training at their own convenience and pace, from any location that has an internet connection.
Selecting the right training
Merton purchased its e-learning solution from Me Learning, the sole supplier to offer e-learning specifically for CareFirst, Merton’s social care case management system.
Me Learning has an exclusive partnership deal with OLM (the UK’s largest independent supplier of information solutions for Children’s and Adult Services), to supply online training materials for their products. Merton invested in Me Learning’s Me CareFirst and Me ICS courses which came with an integral learning portal to track the training provided. Me CareFirst, designed for both Adult and Children’s services, is a comprehensive suite of e-learning modules developed in partnership with OLM.
The Me CareFirst training takes around eight and a half hours to complete and is the equivalent of five days of classroom training. The modules have been designed to help local authorities roll out CareFirst to its staff and to provide a perpetual support and training platform.
Me ICS is a separate suite of online tutorials providing process guidance on the ICS. The Me ICS e-learning suite allows the local authority to incorporate a blended-learning approach to ICS training and provides a comprehensive online resource which is up to date with the latest processes and protocols. This e-learning suite is made up of modules which cover: Child In Need, Child Protection, Looked After Child and Private Fostering. The Me ICS training takes around four and a half hours to complete and is the equivalent of three days of classroom training.
In January 2009 it became obligatory for staff to complete the Me CareFirst module before receiving their log-in to the system. This led to a significant increase in the number of online training hours carried out by Merton’s social care staff – in fact, the total was 120 hours during June 2009. Chloe said: “Investing in online training has been a learning curve for me and I am delighted to be seeing such positive results this year. Me Learning’s courses are easy to use, engaging and a great way for our staff to refresh their knowledge at their own pace on an ongoing basis. A huge benefit to our staff is that they can access the training at any time and from anywhere there is an internet connection.” As the online training courses can be tweaked, Merton has embedded links that run the courses from within Care First as Help items, and this is proving popular with the users as they can get help as and when they need it.
“Whenever we are thinking about adding to our IT suite for Children’s Social Care, we build in an element for training covered by a Me Learning module. The Me Learning team has been very helpful at every stage to ensure that our solution is as efficient and flexible as it can be for our workers and is always on hand to help. So far, our workers have taken over 1800 modules and this number is increasing every day.”Chloe McSweeney, Information Strategy Manager at Merton
Merton has a population of approximately 191,000; 25% are from ethnic minority communities and over 40 languages are spoken. There is a sharp social and economic contrast between wards in Wimbledon, which are in the top 5% most affluent nationally, and wards in the Mitcham area which are amongst the 15% poorest. Merton has an annual budget of around £233 million and employs over 5,000 staff including teaching and other school staff. The council is the largest employer in Merton and many staff live in the borough. For further information, please visit www.merton.gov.uk
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