Expert Insight – The Role of Competency Assessors
We were recently approached by Skills for Care to write an Expert Insight article for their newsletter and chose to focus on the role of Competency Assessors in Health and Social Care.
Competency assessors are a vital asset to organisations aiming to prove that their staff teams deliver high-quality care and support. Adult social care workers trained as competency assessors greatly assist the learning and development function of their company to maintain high standards while continually pushing them higher.
An excellent assessor will be determined to deliver high-quality care in services, be passionate about achieving outstanding ratings within their service, and encourage their service to develop a strong culture of learning and consistent improvement.
By using observation, feedback and mentoring, they ensure staff throughout the organisation carry out good practice and are continuously developed, benefiting organisations by assisting them to:
- Complement the organisation’s workforce development
- Deliver high-quality care and support
- Meet CQC outcomes
- Reduce costs by reducing the need for refresher training
- Encouraging and facilitating a culture of learning
This article will examine the role that competency assessors can play in achieving the aforementioned benefits, as well as provide recommendations for organisations to achieve the best possible practice by utilising this vital function.
1. Complementing the organisation’s workforce development
Having skilled competency assessors within the organisation essentially allows for an internal quality assurance service, enabling learning and development objectives to be met and achieving the recommendations of best practice.
Skills for Care, within their 2016 ongoing guide to learning and development in adult social care, recommend that in order to maintain the good practice from staff, they should undergo annual competency assessments.
Through undertaking annual competency assessments, organisations ensure their staff are competent in their role to a good standard, and any gaps in knowledge and skills will be recognised and workers are given an opportunity to review and improve their own practice.
Skills for care also recommend that, if a gap is recognised, staff should have learning and development organised and not carry out a task until they are trained and considered to be competent.
2. Delivering high-quality care and support
For organisations with large staff teams, keeping records of whether every member has been competency assessed can be a daunting task. However, well-trained competency assessors who are dedicated to delivering excellent care and support can implement efficient procedures for annually assessing staff competence. By doing so holistically and covering multiple subject areas at once, the time requirements for this can be reduced and make the assessment a more sustainable process.
Organisations often want to evidence how learning engagements have had a positive impact on practice. The role of the competency assessor can ensure that good practice is taking place across the business and is continuously developing through their observation, mentoring and feedback.
3. Meeting CQC outcomes
By utilising competency assessors, an organisation can provide CQC will strong evidence that their services are high-performers, with skilled staff that support the needs of service users, and treat people with dignity and privacy within their home. Through effectively keeping accurate records of this, organisations will be able to evidence that their services will meet the CQC's 5 key questions they are assessed against – whether they are safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.
4. Reducing costs by reducing the need for refresher training
If staff are already highly knowledgeable and competent, assessors will be able to alleviate the need for training in the same subject year on year.
By supporting organisations to achieve their workforce development strategy, in a way that requires less formal training, but still works as an effective means of proving that their workforce is highly competent, well supported and sufficiently developed, the need for refresher training is reduced. This can have a huge impact on organisation’s learning and development budgets by reducing costs otherwise incurred by annual training.
5. Encouraging and facilitating a culture of learning
In creating a culture that celebrates staff development in an open and transparent way, that acknowledges mistakes and builds on past failures, competency assessors can facilitate ongoing learning and improvement and deliver better care and support across the organisation. By placing value on staff development in this way, organisations will benefit from greater enthusiasm from staff taking a proactive approach to their own CPD, and in turn, an environment where people feel valued and want to continue working towards ever-improving standards.
So, how can organisations develop and utilise competency assessors?
Competency assessing does not have to be a full-time role for a staff member. Many organisations will develop staff within an existing role to take on competency assessing responsibilities, which means selecting staff with passion and commitment to improving standards. Becoming a competency assessor will improve staff’s involvement in the company and act as a path of progression, leading to greater morale, and an enthusiastic and proactive approach to organisational improvement.
In order to effectively fulfil such a vital role, staff need to be appropriately trained to high standards so that they may, in turn, deliver excellence to others. Companies should ask themselves whether they value spending in order to achieve long-term gains over making short-term savings in their training budgets – for many the former is a more attractive prospect.
To assist our customers with developing staff in the competency assessor role, we provide a learning and development programme designed to enable learners to become qualified, and provide them with skills and knowledge to holistically assess other staff members.
Furthermore, we have developed several programmes focusing on specific subject areas where the need for competency assessing is most prolific, and require greater understanding and ability.
The specific subject areas we’ve developed programmes for so far include:
We are aiming to expand this range to cover more areas, as well as a general working in social care programme that more deeply explores the holistic approach to competency assessing.
We have already delivered our competency assessor programmes to several customers with successful results, providing them with internal capacity for undertaking quality assurance that has led to improved CQC reports and better service delivery.
For more information on our range of learning and development programmes for competency assessors please follow the link below:
We have open course dates running for these programmes and can also deliver them in-house should a customer have a group of learners.