nick ashness

"Some of the staff have jumped huge hurdles that they thought they wouldn't be able to overcome."

"We've been running since 2005 and have two residential homes for people recovering from mental illness. We are planning to set up a next steps service, visiting and supporting clients who have left the residential homes and are living in their own accommodation.

We've been working with the College since 2005. Our staff do NVQ Level 2 in Adult Social Care and some are completing Level 3. The regulations state that 50% of staff must have or be working towards Level 2. 75% of Ashness House staff have Level 2 or higher, the rest are working towards the qualification.

The training enables us to induct people effectively. When someone starts their six months probation, they will be doing the Level 2 training at the same time and you can get good information from the training. The training is good for identifying transferable skills, how people are at work, dealing with challenging behaviour, substance misuse. We employ some people who have good social skills and can work quite well but they don't have formal qualifications. Others have already got qualifications and experience; you need a balance.

The relationship with the College has allowed the development of a rolling programme for the recruitment and development of staff, and provides a good framework in which to build up additional training - short courses on specialist subjects, for example.

It gives people who may not have been in an academic environment for some years - or at all - a structure in which they can build up skills and confidence.

The training has a positive impact on the service, it motivates people and that's good for the residents. The staff become more aware of the environment, how to engage with residents, more aware of the risks. They gain a sense of self worth as an employee. It is a therapeutic milieu, the residents need to feel safe and secure, if they have problems they will tell staff before a crisis hits. The training is helpful in doing that, it helps us to manage the residents' risks.

The NVQ Level 2 is free to staff and they are paid to attend. We put a high profile on the training, emphasizing that it is a serious issue if someone is not attending.

We get feedback, a regular dialogue with people who are running the courses, things can be raised, they are quite responsive when you talk to them. The College is recruiting more assessors and the quality has improved. The group has been more accessible, knowledgeable, consistent.

Some of the staff have jumped huge hurdles that they thought they wouldn't be able to overcome.

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