08th February 2016 Written by Ian Wheeler, Head of Research at Skills for Health

blog ohh feb161. Begin with outcomes, the services you need to deliver now and in the future

Start with the needs of the population to inform what services are needed and then let this inform the design and skills required.

Projections, benchmarking and scenario planning can help employers rehearse and model the potential future of health care in the sector (or locality) and resultant services.

2. Go deeper into skills mix and care functions than you might have done in the past

Take a holistic approach to care pathway mapping i.e. across primary, secondary and tertiary care and employing detailed functional analysis. This is an opportunity to challenge the current status quo and redesign the workforce to improve services, address current operational challenges and to enrich the jobs of all staff.

3. Given due priority to the support workforce and work towards parity of esteem

The use of support worker roles should be a key consideration during the development plan. These roles should not be simply ‘support’ roles and they will need to have a clearly defined place. Support workers will also need champions to help push through their development.

4. Take a longer view

Greater emphasis on support worker roles and more thought given to how different parts of the workforce might be able to contribute to the patient care in ways that they have not in the past will require employers to take a longer view on such developments.

5. Think about functions to break down what skills might be needed

Functional analysis can help employers take an objective look at the services they provide and the roles that are needed to make these services happen. Moving from a professions led approach to one which is more bottom-up, could have significant consequences in assisting and reshaping the workforce. For example a GP is the most qualified in the surgery and as such will be expected to see the most urgent, complex and high risk cases. However there is evidence to suggest that many of the tasks and patients could be more widely distributed between nurse practitioners, pharmacists or health care assistants and result in high quality safe care.

6. Take regular opportunities to think about functions and skills mix

It is not always possible for organisations to start with a completely clean slate, however reviewing services needed and the existing skills mix will yield positive results. For example using opportunities such as a colleague leaving the team to review the skills mix and consider a new or enhanced support worker role.

7. Consider using competences and National Occupational Standards (NOS)

Statements of competence and the applications of NOS can inform and bring a common currency to workforce design and development discussions. The application of NOS supports a wide range of activities from role design to learning needs assessment.

8. Give clarity to what support roles are doing

When introducing a new support worker role into the team it is vital to ensure the rationale for it and the associated duties and responsibilities are appreciated by other members of the team.

9. Learning from others

Learning from others in how a new support worker role was developed, trained and introduced into the workplace is a key tool in the workforce development box. Skills for Health has a library of proven new role ‘templates’ which describe the role’s competence, the required learning and skills, assessment requirements and any appropriate qualification.

10. Consider progression within the role and within the career path

Progression routes provide motivation and contribute to individual ambition and esteem. Progression within the role provides scope for traineeships or apprenticeships and additional tiers of responsibility based on competence and experience. If there are routes out of the role and progression to other areas then the role can become more attractive to future candidates.

11. Consider the use of apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are one of the Government’s preferred frameworks for training and development. They provide an opportunity for employers to take on candidates in the workplace and also to develop skills of their team in-house. With the development of apprenticeships at a higher level, apprenticeships can provide a progression route for support workers into registered roles.

12. Change management is central to the development of support worker roles

At its heart the development of skills, whether that of an individual or an entire organisation is a transition from one way of thinking to another. The development and introduction of new roles either in support workers or assistant practitioners within the regulated workforce will therefore benefit from adopting a change management perspective.

Brought to you in association with the #OurHealthHeroes campaign

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