Last updated: 16.05.14

Carers need more help developing skills

The rapidly ageing state of the UK population means that a million more care workers will be needed in the coming years, making it more essential than ever that there is funding and appropriate development in place.

According to the recently published Kingsmill review into the working conditions of the care sector, specialist knowledge, behaviours and skills are seriously under-developed within the industry.

The Guardian reports that this is an issue being exacerbated by the ever-increasing complexity of care required by older people, ranging from acute and chronic illness to dementia and mental health problems. Especially with residential homes having replaced long-stay hospitals, it is important that staff have the knowledge and skills to cope with this demand.

To this end, care minister Norman Lamb recently launched the Carers Week Quest 2014, which is calling on organisations and individuals to sign up to a drive to ensure that carers in local communities are not missing out on vital support or services such as training.

Carers Week itself is due to take place in June, from 9th to 15th, and provides a great opportunity for the industry to highlight such issues that are affecting carers across the board. 

But while there is a clear recognition across the political spectrum that more training and better qualifications are needed among carers, fears are growing that the funding required for such a drive will not easily be forthcoming.

Although NHS trusts have access to large pools of money for training and development, the newspaper warns that those who work in smaller care and nursing homes are often unable to find the time and money for these courses.

It also appears that social care is one area that is underfunded when it comes to training, with very little of the £5 billion annual income of Health Education England going into this area.

In such an environment, it is important to make sure that training is providing as much value as possible, and online learning courses can help to provide training to staff in a flexible manner at a low cost. Virtual College supplies every NHS trust with such training and has had over 225,000 registrations for its Safe Use of Insulin course.