A registered charity, all of the care provided by St Rocco’s Hospice is free, for both patients and their carers. Yet only around a third of its funding is provided by the NHS; the rest comes directly from the community it supports – via fundraising activities, donations and through its many shops and the hospice lottery. St Rocco’s Hospice provides services which are not readily available elsewhere in the area – working with other healthcare professionals, such as GPs or hospitals.
The quality of service delivery is highly dependent on the knowledge and skills of its workforce. Part of the challenge for St Rocco’s is the variety of skills/training/education needed to deliver an organisation wide education strategy. At the same time, there is a need to manage the balance between service delivery and staff attendance at training events and, inevitably, control the cost of training closely.
Within the Hospice, there are mandatory training obligations, which include those required by the CQC, and those which the hospice considers to be of paramount importance in enabling safe service delivery. Mandatory training requirements are different for clinical and for non-clinical staff, although there are some core elements which apply to both groups of staff.
Previously, mandatory training was largely undertaken through the use of workbooks or classroom training. Staff would work through the workbooks and answer the accompanying questions but it was recognised that this was not a very robust way of testing knowledge, understanding or retention. Learners also found the workbooks boring and time consuming.
In addition, they created an administrative issue. Staff had to mark the workbooks, feedback to individual learners if there were any issues, and then maintain a training matrix in Excel. This was very time consuming and when the CQC came in to look at workbooks and training records, it was not easy to evidence a robust training regime. As the hospice is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it is particularly difficult to arrange groups of staff for face to face training sessions.
St Rocco’s Hospice provides high-quality care and promotes physical, social, psychological and spiritual wellbeing for patients with life-limiting illness. In doing so, it places patients, carers and families at the heart of everything it does. The hospice supports the borough of Warrington, a community of over 200,000 people, providing highly specialised care – along with a wide range of services – to support those who have been diagnosed with illnesses which are terminal, or life-limiting. St Rocco’s Hospice is regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the Charity Commission.
St Rocco’s started to look at online learning as a potential solution with a clear vision:
Eileen Barker, St Rocco’s Project Support Officer, explained:” We initially contacted other local hospices to see what they were doing and who they were using in terms of online learning.
“We narrowed down the initial contacts made with online learning providers to a short list of four suppliers for further evaluation.
“We liked the look and feel of Virtual College’s courses, the breadth of subject coverage which they could provide and the value they offered. Some of the other online learning providers were too expensive.”
In addition to Enable, Virtual College’s cloud-based learning management system, St Rocco’s acquired access to over 25 online courses covering a wide range of topics, from ‘Dignity in Care’ to ‘Infection, Prevention and Control’, including statutory and mandatory subjects.
Some of these courses have St Rocco’s policies added in as an additional module to reinforce local policy. Over 150 members of staff from right across the organisation now access Virtual College’s online resources. Within the hospice, there are different mandatory training requirements and staff are split into various clinical and non-clinical groups for online training purposes.
Eileen commented: “Our staff appreciate the flexibility provided by online learning. Given the nature of our work, the ability to be able to access the training 24 hours a day is a real benefit.
“More detailed information can be provided with e-learning and it delivers much better learning and retention than the previous workbooks. It is empowering our staff to broaden their knowledge.
“Our increasing use of technology is helping us to achieve measurable benefits.”
St Rocco’s now manages many aspects of the delivery and maintenance of mandatory learning and training via their learning management system and is continuing to explore the wider functionality offered, for example by the Event Manager module. The previously resource intensive maintenance of existing manual training records has now been largely eliminated.
Training records can be easily maintained with consistent, accurate information. As training is a key area of focus for the CQC, it is important that the hospice can now quickly and robustly report on the training for compliance. The system can identify and report on employees due for refresher training and cost and efficiency savings are realised by decreasing ‘off the job’ training time.
Sylvie Cooke, Clinical Nurse Specialist at St Rocco’s, views education and training as an important part of her role: “Where relevant and appropriate, we still deliver some training on a face to face basis, for example basic life support.
“But it is difficult to attain high compliance rates across the board without online training. We now achieve very high learner participation and compliance rates which have improved for both clinical and non-clinical training and have an overall learner pass rate of 98%.
“The learning management system is vital to track and prove compliance especially for external CQC monitoring. “All data is now in one place, easy to access and create reports and we are saving staff time and expense by delivering some of the training online.”