Discussing a person’s English or literacy skills is potentially very sensitive. The way we talk and our reading and writing abilities are important aspects of our identity.
People might feel self-conscious or upset when told they need to improve these skills. Some staff from overseas may be highly qualified in another country and being told they need to improve basic skills could be embarrassing for them.
Those who began working in social care before qualifications became necessary may have many excellent care skills. You will not want to lose workers with otherwise good skills because they are offended or unsure about what is involved in improving their
Deciding with workers what they need to learn
The best way to get started is to look at the requirements of a job. Rather than telling someone they need to improve their English, or reading and writing, look at the specific tasks expected of someone in their role.
You can then discuss together what they would like to do better; examples could be tasks like emailing family members, writing reports, being clear on the words for bodily functions and so on.
Looking for inspiration? Here are two examples of task-based job profiles that are used for this purpose in Norway. One of the documents is for nursery assistants and the other for those assisting with personal care. These should give you some ideas.
Use Plain English if you make your own task-based job profiles. Find out what this means using the free guides on the Plain English website www.plainenglish.co.uk
In your conversations with workers, make sure you acknowledge the skills and strengths the worker already has. Listen respectfully and create a record of your meeting that includes:
- which skills the worker is going to improve or learn
- what they are willing to do to achieve this
- any financial costs and how these will be met
- what barriers the worker expects
- how barriers could be overcome
- a specific plan including when and where learning will happen
- how and when you will review the plan together
- how you will both know when the worker’s goal has been achieved.
You might find it helpful to look at the tips on performing skills checks from the Care Skillsbase archive www.scie-careskillsbase.org.uk
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