Can you really use eLearning for the care certificate?


By Skills for Health | 15 January 2016

The Care Certificate has been helping to standardise the initial training of new health and adult social care support workers since its launch in April 2015. However, back in November, Skills for Health, Health Education England (now NHS England) and Skills for Care were forced to issue a joint statement to rectify some misleading claims made by certain training providers.

One of the key points made in this statement was that It is not possible to achieve the Care Certificate through completion of eLearning or completing a workbook alone”

With a number of providers continuing to offer Care Certificate Elearning packages, the key remaining questions include:

  • What role does eLearning have with the Care Certificate?
  • Where can eLearning be used and where it insufficient?

Let’s answer each of those questions in turn:

1) What role does eLearning have with the Care Certificate?

Elearning most certainly has a place when it comes to Care Certificate compliance, but eLearning is primarily a way to acquire and demonstrate knowledge, not skill.

Angelo Varetto, one of the architects of the Care Certificate states “When designing the Care Certificate, we went to great care to ensure there were requirements for the learner to be able to demonstrate skills”.

The Care Certificate guidance states that skills must be demonstrated and assessed in real work activity. So it just isn’t possible for all those things to be assessed through e-learning – the assessment decision has to be made on the person doing real work activity.

It’s best to see the Care Certificate as a combined demonstration of Skills and Knowledge. You might demonstrate a skill in something, but you need to the knowledge show you understand why you are doing it. By contrast, understanding the theory of something is a far cry from being able to demonstrate a skill in that area. Every standard has a skills and knowledge component. Some standards require more skill demonstration while some are almost entirely knowledge.

Skills + Knowledge = Care Certificate

  • Skills: A workplace assessor will need to assess your ability to demonstrate the relevant skills in the work place.
  • Knowledge: eLearning and other distance training tools such as the work books may show you have the knowledge to understand the theory behind those skills.

Angelo Varetto continues: “It’s the correct application of the skill, the knowledge, and the understanding that makes you competent”

2) Where can eLearning be used and where is it insufficient?

Not everybody has the facilities, the capacity, and the resources to be able to deliver the face-to-face teaching for the entirety of the Care Certificate. Skills for Health’s Angelo Varetto continues: “One of the things we’re absolutely clear on is that eLearning, distance learning, has a fundamental place in this”.

There’s no standard where eLearning couldn’t be used because every standard has a knowledge component. Angelo Varetto urges caution in this however: “We were made aware of eLearning that claimed to assess for basic life support skills, where people were using keys to demonstrate the speed of the compressions they were using. We are very clear that that this is not acceptable.”

Another example is the requirement to demonstrate that privacy and dignity of the individual is maintained at all times. You can describe how you might maintain the privacy and dignity of the individual and learn this knowledge through eLearning, but it’s not a substitute for actually doing it in real life and having somebody there ensuring that you’re doing it. We can all learn the theory, but, of course, the really important thing is whether we put that theory into practice.

When reading through the Care Certificate Assessor Guide, each standard has components that can be assessed either by showing knowledge or by a workplace demonstration of skill:

The jargon free guide to the care certificate

Some of the standards have more knowledge components making them almost entirely suitable for eLearning, while some standards mostly require a work-place skills demonstration.

The table below shows all the standards and the number of knowledge or work-place skill assessments required in each component.

The jargon free guide to the care certificate

Elearning can therefore be best used with the standards with the highest percentage of knowledge components. By contrast, the standards with the highest skill component requirement can still be used for eLearning to meet part of the standard, but standards such as Fluids and Nutrition will require much more of a work-place skills assessment on top of eLearning.

So, can you really use eLearning for the Care Certificate?

The bottom line is that eLearning can most certainly be used to learn, demonstrate and assess parts of the Care Certificate, but eLearning alone is not sufficient.

Alarm bells should ring if you come across a provider of eLearning or work-books who is claiming the following:

  • Claim: By completing all the eLearning modules, you will be awarded the Care Certificate.
  • Clarification: Your assessor needs to assess your skills in the workplace in addition to any eLearning.
  • Claim: The eLearning provider is accredited to provide the Care Certificate.
  • Clarification: Providers and their courses may be accredited from a respectable body, but no-one is accredited to deliver the Care Certificate specifically.
  • Claim: A training organisation has been ‘licenced’ to award the Care Certificate.
  • Clarification: No-one has been licenced to award the Care Certificate.

For more guidance, visit the Care Certificate information page here.

The bottom line is that eLearning offers a cost effective means for organisations and their staff to achieve the Care Certificate, provided it is underpinned by work place assessment of competency.


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