Image: Bradford District Care Trust.Mental Health Case-study Series (Bands1-4)

Bradford District Care Trust

Bradford District Care Trust recognised that the inconsistent career pathways available to their Healthcare Support Workers (HCSWs) did not reflect the crucial role this group of staff played in their workforce. By prioritising a clear, coherent framework for career progression the Trust set out to improve services for patients and staff retention.

The Challenge

Bringing Futures into Focus

Because HCSWs made up a significant proportion of the workforce throughout the Trust the first challenge was to develop a standard approach that clarified career progression opportunities across all areas.

The decision to introduce clear, competence based job descriptions was key to resolving the issue. However this then presented a challenge; shifting the culture across the entire Trust to accept this new approach.

How they did it

Ownership through Engagement

Since engaging professional groups was essential to a successful transition, the Trust worked with Skills for Health to develop four workshops that would inform and encourage buy-in.

Managers and a cross section of staff attending the workshops mapped out what a competence-based job description would look like, and then worked together to apply this format to roles in Bands 2-4.  With input from over 120 people, there was a solid foundation on which to build.

Bradford District Care Trust also participated in a steering group alongside other Trusts that were carrying out staff development work in the region, with input from Skills for Health and Health Education Yorkshire and the Humber. Skills for Health provided other evidence-based practice and the group offered sources of support and advice; broadening the input and putting the changes being made into a wider national context.

This approach has effectively linked the micro to the macro, ensuring all HCSW job descriptions now fit into a wider competence-based career framework that is accessible and applicable throughout the Trust.

“The workshops have been invaluable; explaining how the competence-based approach worked, the safeguards around it, stories of success for staff and patients, and pockets of good practice shared by other service managers. Giving people the time and space to do that was helpful.”

Fiona Sherburn (deputy director of HR/OD)

The Outcomes

Building on Buy-in

This switch to competence-based job descriptions for HCSWs has been viewed as a success across the Trust, with managers now actively taking on ownership and championing it in their services.

Meanwhile the Trust’s HR team has swiftly moved on and is currently working with the District Nursing Team to improve their framework for HCSWs.

Image: Bradford District Care Trust.

Project journey - Step by step

  • Project set up and planned, with resource in place
  • 4 role design workshops held across the Trust
  • Generic integrated community support worker roles developed for Career Framework Levels 2, 3 and 4
  • Competence based Job Descriptions for community support worker roles
  • Apprenticeship Strategy finalised
  • Extension of generic roles to District Nursing Teams underway
  • Final dissemination report shared with Trust executive team

“No longer viewing HCSWs as unqualified workforce”

As well as improving HCSW career development at the Trust, there have also been some interesting additional benefits.

Firstly, there has been a marked shift in the way HCSWs are perceived by the rest of the workforce. They are no longer viewed as an unqualified workforce, but as a valued resource that can relieve some of the increasing pressure being placed on their colleagues.

Secondly, the move to a clearer career framework has led to staff recognising it as a potential pathway for ex-service users to enter the workforce.

Though still in its early stages this could be a fantastic opportunity, particularly for community mental health teams, to attract highly motivated people into the workforce whilst supporting them with solid training and a clear path for development.