Champions of Care

October 27, 2017

Cartmel Grange has been in the caring business for over 100 years – and over the last two years the home has taken it upon itself to improve its quality service by providing external upskilling opportunities for its staff.

In partnership with Furness College, employees are encouraged to expand their existing knowledge base by attaining qualifications in a variety of relevant subjects, including dementia care, safeguarding, infection control, end-of-life care, nutrition and health.

The 12-week courses take the form of distance learning, enabling staff to fit their studies around their shifts and home life.

It’s a system which suits the workforce, according to Cartmel Grange’s manager Melanie Williamson, “Classroom-based study would have been a logistical nightmare with the number of staff working shifts, which is why distance learning has proved so successful,” she says. “We submit our workbooks to the college, they are marked and feedback is sent out via email.”

There are currently 24 staff enrolled on various courses, and according to Melanie it is this personal investment that makes them so popular, “We have a situation here where you have better-trained staff who enjoy their work more and are more fulfilled and better motivated. For that reason they tend to stay longer, which means happier and better cared-for residents and we don’t have the workforce ‘churn’ that perhaps other homes in the sector have.”

Heather Price, Training Co-ordinator said “The courses are very popular, and you’ll often hear staff comparing notes on their homework!” Heather says. “But the level of training is also an incentive when we are looking to recruit. People come to interview knowing that by working here they will have the opportunity to develop.”

The relationship between the home and Furness College dates back to 2014 when they were first supported via The Edge. Funded by the European Social Fund and co-financed by the Skills Funding Agency, The Edge is designed to support workforce development within the SME sector by helping to recruit apprentices and find training opportunities.

The college is one of a number of Edge delivery partners  and is able to provide fully-funded training to participating businesses. Business account officer Ewan Scott first approached Cartmel Grange to discuss their training needs, and having identified their requirements was able to work with Melanie and her team to facilitate the relevant courses.

“We have earned a reputation for having a well-trained, well-developed workforce,” says Melanie. “But we need to maintain that, and upskilling our staff will enable us to have a broader impact within the care sector. There really isn’t any downside, because training the staff not only benefits them but benefits the residents and the reputation of Cartmel Grange,” she says.

“A care home is a busy, 24/7 operation and under normal circumstances it would be impossible to send people off on 12-week courses. But Furness College have been brilliant to work with, and the flexibility they offer has made it very easy to incorporate study with work.

“I would encourage all businesses to think about developing their staff through further training. There is a huge amount of untapped potential out there, and the benefits to the business itself can be significant.”