Have you heard the news? Helping Hands was recently endorsed as a Centre of Excellence, making us the first and only full-service homecare provider to receive such a recognition.
The accolade comes from Skills for Care, the strategic body for the adult social care workforce in England, after they reviewed the overall training and induction programme for the 3,000 plus employees at Helping Hands.
As an official mark of approval from the care industry, we are the only fully regulated home care company to be recoginised for demonstrating excellence in four areas: showing a commitment to meeting the needs of our learners, complying with the social model of care, measuring how our training supports people in need of care and support, and finally how our training is directly linked to the Leadership Qualities Framework.
We caught up with our training team to find out more about the training programmes on offer here at Helping Hands and what the new industry endorsement means.
The importance of quality carer training
Quality care in the home is only ever possible if carers are trained to the best standards and they’re fully supported in their roles. “It’s the whole reason why we invest so much into our training programmes for carers,” explains Helen Richards, our Head of Learning and Development. “It’s to ensure that our carers can develop the skills and know-how to feel confident in supporting someone at home.
“Even if someone joins our team with previous experience of care, we still train them in the Helping Hands way,” she adds. “It may be that our policies and procedures are different to the previous company they worked for. But it can also come through to the way of providing that care: we place a special focus on enabling independence and maintaining the customer’s dignity at all times, and this shines through in our training.”
The Helping Hands live-in carer training programme has been running for many years now. As an intensive residential programme for all new recruits joining our team, it covers all the theory and practical skills needed to support someone to continue living in their own home. It’s run by home care experts, and practically all of them have worked as carers themselves.
Alex Doyle, one of the trainers at our main centre in Warwickshire, says, “The carers are so lucky to have the opportunity to undergo classroom based learning, it makes such a difference.”
Another carer trainer, Emma Hawkins, adds, “It empowers the carers and gives them the confidence to deliver person-centred care.”
Domiciliary carer training and refreshers
Alongside in-house training for live-in carers, we also deliver in-house training to every care assistant that joins our 70 plus branches to deliver domiciliary – or visiting care – within their local communities.
As with live-in carers, care assistants are provided with refresher training as and when it’s needed, to either brush-up their skills or take them through any new policies or procedures required for their job.
“One of the major differences between us and other home care providers is that every one of our carers is directly employed by us, and therefore have continuous support after joining the team,” says Karen Lewis, Director of Operations. “Besides, how could they do the role effectively without a network of support themselves?”
And this support comes in many forms, from a programme of refresher training, whether it’s online or at a Helping Hands office, contact with their locally based line manager, assigned mentor and our 24/7 carer helpline.
“There is always room for improvement, so we hold regular employee surveys to see what’s working and what’s not. It’s so important to do this to make sure we’re delivering the best service possible, to both our customers and our employees.”
Intensive inductions for support teams
Almost a third of employees at Helping Hands are managers, coordinators, clinical experts and other office-based support teams. Joining such a large team – spread across all corners of England and Wales and with many different services – it’s important that everyone has a proper induction plan.
This induction, for many managers and office-based teams, involves completing the live-in carer training themselves. Other inductions are also offered, including a detailed overview of how each department works and an introduction to our nurse-led clinical care service.
Lori Barber-Field, who represents Skills for Care, shares what led to the endorsement being awarded. “Helping Hands demonstrates dedicated commitment to our core requirements such as effective leadership and management, robust quality assurance, ensuring staff development is based on equality of opportunity, and finally that working with learners is a central feature of all learning and development.”
Helen adds, “We’re so proud that our training and induction has been recognised by Skills for Care and that we’ve become an official Centre of Excellence. It’s a huge accolade which reflects our commitment to meeting the needs of learners and the efforts we make to ensure that our learning and development programmes positively impact the lives of our customers.”
Helping Hands’ CEO, Tim Lee, shares, “We just wouldn’t be where we are today without the dedication, commitment and quality of our employees, and the grounding for this is in our training.”