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Managers are using National Occupational Standards to describe the skills they need, gauge the skills already in the
workforce and set out training and recruitment plans to fill any gaps. Costs can then be accurately judged and the value
of existing staff and the benefit of investing in upgrading their skills can be recognised.
National Occupational Standards are being used to identify clearly the skills required for posts and are also used in writing job descriptions, person specifications and drafting job adverts. See examples below.
Support the health and safety of yourself and individuals.
Communicate with, and complete records for individuals.
Ensure your own actions support the care, protection and well-being of individuals.
Develop your knowledge and practice.
Support individuals with their personal care needs.
Carry out and provide feedback on specific plan of care activities.
Child Care Worker
Promote the well-being and protection of children and young people.
Contribute to the assessment of children and young peoples' needs and the development of care plans.
Support children and young people to develop and maintain supportive relationships.
Support the social, emotional and identity development of children and young people.
Support children and young people to achieve their educational potential.
Best practice in the care sector depends on the ability of individuals and whole organisations to work in ways that are respectful of individuals and assist users of the services to be as independent as possible. These values are reflected through all the National Occupational Standards. The performance criteria and knowledge requirements that support these statements can help staff involved in selection and recruitment to produce a checklist, which looks for relevant evidence during the selection process.
National Occupational Standards contain descriptions of best practice. Standards can be used as the basis for objectives in performance appraisal and as an aid in setting milestones in personal development. The standards are used to help training and development professionals tailor their provision for individual staff while meeting operational objectives.
Employees can use the standards to assess their own performance against a clear and objective description of their job as well as assess their competence against other jobs and thus gauge their suitability for career progression.
The different levels of standards enable both managers and individual staff to be clear about future development and training, to enable individuals to undertake work at a more complex level.
The precision thoroughness and objectivity of National Occupational Standards, enable training plans and training courses to be developed to address both organisational and individual learning needs. The standards can be used to inform the content of training programmes, as they specify in detail what constitutes best practice and can therefore be used for the assessment of competence and the achievement of qualifications. They can also be used to evaluate training by defining the practice outcomes expected from a training investment. The training can then be evaluated against the outcomes, and most importantly, the actual practice of those who have been trained can be checked against the intended outcomes. Monitoring of the effectiveness of the training can continue to be carried out through supervision and appraisal of individuals.
For organisations wishing to achieve Investors in People (liP) accreditation, the use of National Occupational Standards will be a very positive indicator to the liP assessors that the organisation is taking a strategic approach to workforce management.
National Occupational Standards can be used by employers to set out the learning outcomes they expect from training. Training providers are now mapping the relationship between their programmes and the standards, thereby creating an opportunity for better understanding between themselves and employers as the purchasers of training. Training programmes that can be mapped to the National Occupational Standards can often attract external funding support and can therefore be a cost effective resource in meeting training needs.
National Occupational Standards are providing an excellent foundation for benchmarking exercises.
The standards often contain descriptions of processes and performance criteria that can be used to measure success. Where organisations are competing for the same resources and contracts, or in complex purchaser/provider relationships it is often difficult to find other organisations who are willing to enter into comparisons and benchmarking. The 'neutrality' of the standards is an aid to finding a best practice route, and benchmarking against the standards can provide a helpful first step.
Organisations can spend large sums of money and resources introducing change but the results of their investments vary enormously. One of the more common reasons for lack of success in a change initiative is that the workforce did not fully understand what they were being asked to do differently. This can be because the messages were not clearly communicated or the staff were uncertain of their existing skills. National Occupational Standards can be used to solve some of these difficulties by describing the gap between the practice required by the changes and the existing staff skills. Standards are often then used to form the basis of new job descriptions, role specifications and the functional requirements of departments, teams and individuals.
National Occupational Standards are being used to form the basis for contract specification for example in domiciliary services. Clarity about the service required is promoted if both the purchasers and the potential providers are familiar with the standards and can use extracts from them as a 'common language' in contracts, tenders and service level agreements.
For purchasers, the overall service required can be defined by quoting from the units within the standards, the elements can then be used to help specify activities required with the performance criteria providing an evaluative base for service level agreements. Suppliers competing for the work are then able to match their experience and evidence of competence against the standards.
Managers in care will be concerned to improve the way in which the work of their service is understood by other organisations and the public. Organisations can use National Occupational Standards as a basis for informing and promoting their work to customers, suppliers, employees and the public. The clarity of the standards help to show the reality of the work and engage people in the tensions that care has to respond to in order to achieve positive outcomes. Such an approach also allows managers to show how they are establishing a competent workforce through training, employee development and supervision.
The term risk management covers a number of different issues within the care sector. These range from the general responsibility of all staff to work safely, to specific issues such as prevention of harm and re-offending. Two examples would be:
Each individual within the workforce is responsible, as an agent of the organisation, under Health and Safety legislation, for their safety and for the safety of those in their care. National Occupational Standards have embedded within them actions and activities that are based on 'safe' practice. So training and management of staff can be carried out with reference to achieving those standards.
National Occupational Standards require individual staff working with vulnerable clients to identify lines of communication, accountability and protocols for risk management.