Article

NHS digitalisation

Introduction

Why is NHS digitalisation so important?

“Digital transformation of health and social care is a top priority for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England (NHSE). The system’s long-term sustainability depends on it.” Quote from the NHS Digital policy paper. See link below.

The movement to digital in the NHS and Social Care is happening, so if you have older paper-based systems or lots of spreadsheets holding data, you will be converting these to digital at some stage. It is a matter of when, not if.

This is where ePortfolios come in…

You don’t have to go all digital all at once. You do need to be assessing what you do now and consider how it can conform to the digital imperative. How can you get ahead of the game?

And reap the benefits digital can give you at the same time.

Some areas, like nationwide patient care records and using AI for diagnostics, are major projects, and are being handled nationally. Other areas, such as learning and certification, need to be handled locally.

What are you doing about digitalisation?

How can a learning platform help?

Going digital means more than just putting data into spreadsheets. It means using a digital system to automate and assist both you and the people you serve by giving you better and quicker access to what you need when you need it, and better information about what is happening.

Effective learning requires much more than just looking at an elearning course or attending a class. It requires practice and reflection, and often assessments to ensure standards have been reached.

When you are considering a learning platform to bring delivery of your learning and certification programmes into the digital world, you need one that makes the whole process easier for the learner, manages assessment and observations, automates reminders and calls to action, and provides timely management information.

The People Alchemy platform does all this and more, and is already successfully in use within the NHS.

Digital Care Certificate

The NHS Care Certificate is a set of standards that health and social care workers adhere to in their daily working life. It is the agreed set of standards that set out the knowledge, skills, and behaviours expected of specific health and social care roles. Designed for use in England, the Care Certificate is relevant to healthcare support workers and social care workers, including assistants who provide direct care in hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, and home care.

Here are the key points about the Care Certificate:

    • It was developed as part of the Cavendish Review, which was commissioned by the UK government.
    • It is an identified set of standards that health and social care workers should adhere to in their daily working life.
    • It comprises 15 standards that are designed to be completed early in the worker’s career. They cover areas such as understanding the individual’s role, personal development, duty of care, equality, and diversity, as well as specific caregiving skills.
    • The certificate aims to ensure that all care workers have the same introductory skills, knowledge, and behaviours to provide compassionate, safe, and high-quality care and support.
    • It is not a formal qualification – it is designed to provide part of the training and induction pathway for new care workers.

The Care Certificate is widely seen as a baseline for staff induction in both the NHS and social care sectors, and completing it is meant to assure patients, service users, their families, and carers that the care provided by healthcare and social care support workers is of high quality and respectful.

Digitising your Care Certificate

Many Trusts and social care organisations in the UK still use a paper-based portfolio, perhaps alongside some elearning modules and a day or two in the classroom, to deliver their Care Certificate programme. This approach has many drawbacks which can be solved with the right digital platform.

    • Do you have great visibility of where learners are in their 12-week Care Certificate journey?
    • Can you see at a glance who needs help and encouragement?
    • Are reminders and alerts for your learners fully automated?
    • Is everything in one place: learning content, learner notes, assessment results, messages and more?
    • Do you have a full and easily accessible audit trail if it comes to an investigation?

These are the sorts of issues that the right digital platform will solve for you. The People Alchemy platform will even run plagiarism checks on submitted answers to knowledge questions, use SMS texts for reminders and alerts, and much more that makes the Care Certificate easier for learners, assessors and administrators alike.

Clinical Competencies & Skills

In the healthcare landscape of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), there is a distinction between ‘clinical competencies’ and ‘clinical skills’. Clinical competencies encompass the knowledge, skills, and behaviours required to deliver effective and safe patient care, forming a structured clinical competencies framework that guides professionals in their clinical roles. They reflect a practitioner’s ability to perform their duties with informed judgment and adaptability, ensuring consistent standards of care throughout the NHS.

Conversely, clinical skills are the hands-on techniques and procedures that healthcare professionals utilise in direct patient care. They represent the practical application of theoretical knowledge and are central to daily healthcare operations. Skills such as venepuncture, cannulation, wound care, and patient assessment are taught through training and assessment to uphold the NHS’s commitment to quality and safety.

The synergy between competencies and skills is fundamental in the NHS, with competencies providing the overarching standards and skills enabling their practical execution. This relationship ensures that healthcare delivery is proficient, personalised, and responsive to individual patient needs. Moreover, the NHS’s focus on continuous learning and professional development ensures that healthcare workers remain competent and adept, both ethically and practically, in providing exemplary patient care.

Given the wide range of clinical skills and the number of people that need certification in those skills, the right end-to-end digital solution ensures robust assessment and high levels of compliance.

Digitising clinical skills assessment

People Alchemy offers a comprehensive platform designed to streamline and enhance the administration, delivery, and assessment of clinical skills in healthcare settings. The platform simplifies the process for both registered and non-registered professionals to achieve required certifications, improving visibility for managers regarding compliance and providing support for those needing assistance. It’s tailored for the demands of clinical competency, offering a structured pathway which includes declaration of prior learning, information required, knowledge assessments and practical assessments.

The transition from paper-based or hybrid systems to People Alchemy’s digital Learning Workflow Platform ensures an effective, traceable journey for both learners and assessors. The platform automates reminders, escalates concerns, and maintains an audit trail, which is critical for investigations. With full mobile compatibility, it allows for the capture of evidence, feedback, and proof of standards directly within the system.

People Alchemy is a modern digital solution which is able to support the NHS’s transition to digital, enhancing knowledge recording, and fostering transparency and collaboration. The platform offers easy access to data for audit and compliance, ensuring security for NHS Trusts. People Alchemy is responsive on mobile devices, allows for comprehensive note-taking, audit trails, and customisable pathways for assessing clinical skills, ensuring it is fit for purpose in various environments.

Digital Preceptorships

The preceptorship in the NHS refers to a structured period of transition for newly registered practitioners as they move from their student phase to autonomous healthcare professionals. This process is designed to offer the essential support and development opportunities to build newly qualified nurses, midwives, or allied healthcare practitioners’ confidence and competence.

Preceptorships include a system of guided and supervised practice, where new practitioners work under the observation of experienced professionals, known as preceptors. These preceptors provide continual feedback, advice, and support. They help the new staff member understand their role better, improve their skills, and adapt to the expectations and pressures of a busy healthcare environment.

The National Preceptorship Framework for Nursing within the NHS sets out clear guidelines and roles to ensure that this process is consistent and effective throughout the organisation. It emphasises the importance of preceptorship in helping to retain staff by making the transition into practice smoother and more assured.

Preceptorship programmes within the NHS are tailored to the needs of the specific clinical areas and the individual practitioner’s requirements. They can encompass various activities, from direct patient care to professional development sessions, and offer a well-rounded introduction to working in the NHS. The preceptorship is expected to last for a defined period, often around 12 months, and is seen as a crucial investment in the future workforce.

Digitising preceptorships

Digitising a preceptorship programme with a platform like People Alchemy brings several benefits that enhance the learning experience for new healthcare professionals and streamline administrative processes for the provider. Here are some of the key advantages:

  • Accessibility: Digital platforms enable new practitioners to access learning materials and resources anytime and anywhere, facilitating flexible and self-paced learning.
  • Consistency: Digitisation ensures a standardised approach across the organisation, with all preceptees receiving the same quality of training and information, and all preceptors getting the same notes and guidance.
  • Tracking progress: Digital systems typically include tools to monitor and record the progress of each preceptee, making it easier for preceptors and programme administrators to identify areas where additional support might be needed.
  • Reduced paperwork: By moving the administrative aspects online, digital preceptorship programmes lessen the burden of paperwork, allowing preceptors to focus more on mentoring and less on administrative tasks.
  • Communication: Online platforms have communication tools that enable easier preceptee-to-preceptor communication, fostering the mentoring relationship.
  • Resource management: Digitisation allows for more efficient management of resources, with materials that can be reused and easily updated, reducing the need for printed materials which can become quickly outdated.
  • Data analysis: Collecting data in a digital system allows for comprehensive analysis of programme effectiveness, preceptee performance, and other metrics, leading to better informed decision-making and continuous improvement of the preceptorship program.
  • Scalability: Digital programmes can be scaled easily without creating large administrative overheads
  • Customisation: Digital platforms offer a degree of personalisation, allowing preceptees to focus on learning that is most relevant to their role or interests.

Overall, digitising a preceptorship programme greatly improves the efficiency, effectiveness, and experience of the transition from student to qualified professional within the healthcare setting.

Safeguarding

Safeguarding in the UK refers to the measures taken to protect the health, wellbeing, and human rights of individuals, particularly children, young people, and vulnerable adults, enabling them to live free from harm, abuse, and neglect. It is a fundamental aspect of delivering high-quality healthcare and social services.

The concept of safeguarding encompasses a wide range of actions, including the prevention and stopping of abuse or neglect, and ensuring that individuals are supported to make choices that do not harm themselves or others. It is a collective responsibility, involving people and organisations working collaboratively to protect those at risk.

Legislation in the UK provides a framework for safeguarding and child protection, setting clear expectations and requirements for individuals and organisations. For children, this includes the statutory guidance “Working Together to Safeguard Children,” which outlines how to protect children from maltreatment, prevent impairment of children’s health or development, and ensure children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care.

Safeguarding is important because it ensures that everyone, regardless of age or ability, has the right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. It is about putting measures in place to promote the welfare of individuals and protect them from harm, ensuring that vulnerable groups receive the care and protection they need to live healthy and fulfilling lives.

Digitising safeguarding

You could put someone in a classroom and train them on Safeguarding for enough hours to satisfy the qualification requirements, and many organisations do this.

This may well improve compliance with the requirements for numbers of people trained, but how well does it actually serve the vulnerable? Safeguarding is important. Just ask any of the people whom it has protected and helped. Let’s get it right.

Following any training course, it’s important to continue reflecting on what was learned and to start applying it. Weeks, months, and years later when the safeguarding training course is a distant memory, what was learned should still be informing people’s practice on an almost daily basis to ensure they are vigilant for signs and symptoms that may be a cause for concern.

The People Alchemy platform provides a scaffold of nudges and reminders over time to ensure you are not just helping people in the classroom. You can extend your influence beyond the classroom to help people apply the safeguarding principles in practice.

Safeguarding training without proactively promoting learning transfer won’t do much more than make sure the compliance boxes are ticked.

Ask for a demo of People Alchemy to see how setting up a learning transfer workflow can make your safeguarding programmes so much more effective.

CPD

Continuous Professional Development (CPD) refers to the systematic maintenance, improvement, and broadening of knowledge, skills, and the development of personal qualities necessary for the execution of professional and technical duties throughout a healthcare professional’s career. CPD is vital for healthcare professionals within the NHS, as it ensures that they keep their skills and knowledge up to date and practice safely and legally.

CPD activities can include formal education, conferences, workshops, elearning, and many less formal activities, all aimed at improving an individual’s capabilities and enhancing the service provided to patients. It is a commitment to being professional, keeping up to date, and continuously seeking to improve. It is also a key component of NHS workforce development and in many cases is a compliance requirement for certain job roles.

The importance of CPD is multifaceted: it contributes to improved patient care, personal career development, and the professionalization of healthcare services. For doctors and other healthcare practitioners, CPD is often a requirement for maintaining registration with professional bodies, ensuring that standards of practice are met and that healthcare professionals remain competent in their field.

CPD is a significant factor in delivering high-quality healthcare services and fostering a culture of lifelong learning among staff.

Digitising CPD

Yes, you have records on ESR, but most people say they want more than what ESR has to offer.

Things like renewal reminders and early warning reports when CPD needs topping up, and a place for staff to record all those smaller events and actions that qualify for CPD, together with supporting evidence.

The CPD functionality is linked to the learning pathways within People Alchemy to give a seamless experience.

What next?

We already support other NHS Trusts in digitising their training and assessment programmes, freeing up administration time and resources, saving time and improving patient care.

Now it’s time to start your journey and find out how our platform can work for you too!