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Case Study – NHS Forth Valley

New evidence-based roles for Older People’s Care developed as a wider workforce planning project to support high standards of care

To support the strategy, NHS Forth Valley conducted a workforce planning project so future workforce development plans would be appropriate and affordable, whilst delivering high standards of care. As part of the project, they used Skills for Health’s competence tools to ensure that the planned move from existing models of care to smaller community units could be achieved safely and smoothly, thereby supporting the ‘Better Health Better Care’ policy.

The project began with funding from Skills for Health enabling NHS Forth Valley to appoint a Project Manager for a fixed term. The project manager looked at future care needs based on examples from Forth Valley Acute Services. Using Skills for Health’s Older People’s Framework, which covers competencies needed to care for older people with age-related needs, the future care needs were mapped.

They then used a similar approach to map the skills of a sample group of staff from all grades currently delivering care within existing Older People’s wards. There are around 400 nursing, allied health professionals and medical staff, of whom 60% are unregistered, currently supporting services for older people.

Awareness sessions provided by our team of expert workforce development specialists were held for staff to encourage participation, and to explain the function of competences. Staff involvement throughout the project was excellent.

With a growing population of older people, it’s important to ensure the right service models are in place to meet their healthcare needs. NHS

Forth Valley recognised this need in their Healthcare Strategy for Older People, with a focus on shifting the balance of care in rehabilitation and intermediate care from acute to community hospitals.

“Skills for Health have provided NHS Forth Valley with invaluable tools to assist in the development of the Community Hospitals. In the future, all staff will have a Skills for Health role profile to support their KSF outline and all services will be mapped to a team profile.”

Helen Kelly, Director of Human Resources NHS Forth Valley


  • Patient need matched with appropriate competences
  • New roles are based on competences and mapped to KSF
  • Existing and new roles supported by training and development plan

It soon became clear that using a competence-based approach has many advantages. By adopting a blank sheet approach to patient needs, NHS Forth Valley was able to use a fresh approach to service and role design.

The Team Assessment tool on the Skills for Health website was used to highlight where future service development needs should be concentrated.

A gap analysis indicated areas for potential role development, and the subsequent formation of new roles of Rehabilitation Support Worker and Advanced Clinical Support Nurse, to meet the care needs of older people in future Community Hospitals.

The success of this project has been underpinned by NHS Forth Valley’s continued use of The Skills for Health competencies to create profiles to support KSF Post Outlines and to inform staff recruitment and induction needs.

Our team continues to bring real benefits to patients through the development of competence-based approaches to the design and redesign of roles and services.

We develop and manage a bank of the national workforce competences which describe the skills and knowledge required to underpin and be integral to accredited and non-accredited education and training programmes. Since competences describe what individuals need to know and do, whoever is performing the task, they can be used in many ways.

As the Sector Skills Council for the UK health sector we support the NHS, independent healthcare providers, and voluntary organisations. Our purpose is to help develop solutions that can deliver a skilled and flexible workforce to improve health and healthcare.