Life is very much about learning and development, from childhood right through to adulthood and beyond. We all as individuals have many characteristics that define us as individuals, we begin to learn attitudes built around belief systems around us at the time of upbringing, and as we mature we learn new skills. These very skills that are taught through school and social interaction ultimately govern the depths of our knowledge, skills and understanding. In later years, the real challenge is putting all of these learnt knowledge and skills in to practice in the working environment. In this case I will be looking at the adult social care settings and the effects of personal experiences, past knowledge and current training and how they can influence principles of development. In order to achieve success in any given task or subject, it is important to understand what is required. If this relates to a new course, what are the course criteria? If it’s a new career, what skills and qualifications are needed? And if one has both the skills and qualifications then will the job in any way hinder your own personal attitudes or beliefs? 1.1
All professional settings are governed by policies to some degree; this may be internal written covenants or governing legal bodies that set national standards. Health and social care setting is no different and has many stringent regulations and standards in order ensure good practice. Some examples would include:
Care Standards Act 2000: An Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which provides for the management of a variety of care organisations, including children’s, nursing and residential care homes. The aim of the legislation is to ensure effective inspection and regulation of various care establishments. Health and Safety at Work Act 1974: The Act lays down general principles for the management of health and safety at work. Since UK began to comply with the Europe Union in 1972, a lot of the health and safety regulations too needed to comply in accordance to this union. This very act also incorporated other codes and practices such as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH 2002), the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at Work Regulations 1992.
Other well-known practices in health care settings include Manual Handling Operations Regulations Act 1992 and National occupation al standards. These entire collective; define how the roles of adult social care jobs are carried out. Each individual employee and company alike must endeavor to guarantee the well-being of their service users through the national guidelines set. Failure can result in legal action but also cause harm to the service user and or employee. 1.2
Reflecting on each activity is a critical part of developing ones knowledge and skills in a particular setting. Through reflection one can look at past experiences such as strengths or weaknesses to enhance their understanding in any given situation. Taking part in a job interview is a good example, when we are asked question part of the initial preparation is reflecting on past experiences and how they can benefit a potential new career. Each day in our chosen job description no matter what they are we are consistently learning and unlearning skills to make ourselves better. Especially talking to customers in the manner in which we communicate and adapt, we could one moment be talking to a member of staff or manager and then go out and communicate with a service user.
The service user may be a child or adult with mild to severe learning difficulties. How we adapt a mould to each individual is also through reflecting on the skills which we have learnt. Being human also means we are quite likely to make mistakes, but to ensure we don’t repeat the same mistake is again down to how we reflect. So reflection is a key component in developing our knowledge and skills even though a lot of us do this as second nature and without really having to think about it too much. 1.3
Following on from reflection another thing which we learn to do quite quickly is that there is little to no room for allowing personal feelings get in the way of the job at hand. As individuals we all have diverse backgrounds, each one of us comes with their own set of moral and social do’s and don’ts that have been engraved through our upbringing. Political and religious beliefs are usually the ones that can cause some conflicting issues. We hear it many times that a person has been dismissed from their role because they made some reference towards a particular person belief; this could be a sexual reference, a religious belief or could be as simple as the way someone looks. The counter argument could be that, ‘surely we all have the right to express our own feelings and beliefs because this after all is freedom of speech?’ The simple answer is no. We all have a right to a belief system, but it should not affect others.
As a Muslim I have my own beliefs but just because I cannot eat or drink certain things do not mean I have to enforce this out loud. It is important to realise that a belief system is just that ‘a system’, a set of personal rules that define us as an individual. To ensure they do not obstruct the quality of work, it’s important to keep our ‘system’ personal, and of course reflect. I have colleagues that are of the Christian, Sikh and Hindu faiths, and it is through reflection of working with individuals of various faiths and beliefs in the past, means I understand what makes up their system. As a result the most effective method to ensure that our own attitudes and beliefs do not hinder our work is to learn if we haven’t done so already. Learn about one another’s beliefs system, communicate not hate and through this understanding we can learn to respect one another as individuals.
One particular learning activity that has greatly improved my understanding and as a result increased my productivity at work was time management training. A few years back I worked for an independent property management firm, I quickly recognised whilst working in a busy environment that managing time was a weakness of mine. So the management thought it would be good practise for me to go to a time management training seminar. The seminar identified the biggest ‘time stealers’ which reduce productivity and established solutions to reduce or remove their negative impact, planning and prioritising work and practiced a range of recognised time management techniques such as effective delegation, assertively saying ‘no’ and negotiating alternative solutions. We also looked at the negative implication of stress and the importance of ‘breaking up the day’ and taking breaks. Through this seminar I took away many useful skills that allowed me to improve my own knowledge and skills.
When I returned to office I was able to manage my time effectively and safeguard each task I was given, whether it was a presentation to prospective property owners, negotiating new business or simply managing office tasks I was able to put daily plans of actions in place to ensure that I met all my deadlines. In my current role as a support worker I keep a daily diary of all the services, in terms of location, times, duration to ensure I can plan my journey for the day. I also take into consideration the particular time of day, if a service for example is at 5pm I understand that it could add another fifteen minutes to my journey time so again I would need to accommodate this if need be. I usually do this by notifying the office or service user if I am running behind schedule due to unforeseen circumstances.
Reflection in work activities in no different to reflection as a whole, as discussed earlier reflection is crucial to ensure that we go into each task prepared and helps minimize mistakes. Currently my job role consists of me working within the children’s services in the health and social care settings. A lot of the time I am required to take on personal care for certain individuals, and there was no greater personal reflection that being a parent. Being a parent has taught me so many things which have I have taken into the health care settings, especially within Children’s services. I can reflect on feeding, dressing and communicating techniques that I would adopt on my own children which can help me within work.
But through this experience I can also understand the parents point of view, why some parents can seem very particular, where some people may call this ‘fussy’ I can empathize with them as a parent that they want nothing but the best for their children, just as I would for my own children. This skill allows me to create a bond with both the parent and the child. I have also experienced bereavement when I lost someone close and dear to me, as a result I went through a depressive phase. I have also experienced severe financial difficulty through redundancy. All of which I have overcome and can now reflect on, pass my knowledge and experiences on to others who have suffered in a similar way in order to give them some degree of peace of body and mind.
Feedback in all walks of life is essential for future development. One may have a learning activity in place to improve a particular skill set but it’s only through feedback that we can determine the level of growth, and determine any changes to the learning environment. I use to find it difficult to stand up in front of people and give a presentation; through some constructive feedback I was able to plan my presentations in a more structured way. I learnt that the key lay in simply taking my time, to speak clearly and concisely and avoid the urge of rushing through a presentation which would usually mean making little to no sense.
A personal development plan is used to record ones progress through either education or employment. It is often defined as an organised and supported method undertaken by an individual to reflect upon their own learning, performance and achievements. It is predominantly about assessing one’s own skills, setting goals for improvement, recording achievements and reflecting on experiences.
A personal development plan or PDP as the name suggests is something first and foremost quite ‘personal’, what I mean by personal does not relate to the degree of privacy but more so being about oneself. So the most common thing to do would be to list down where we are at in this present time, in terms of skills and knowledge base and then looking at what is needed to improve within a particular work or educational setting. So using my current career choice as a support worker can be used as a classic example. When joining Care UK, I had no background knowledge (other than past experiences which I could reflect upon) and of course the initial training. But even this combined to work within such a field with limited knowledge, I felt, that I was very much at a disadvantage. I then sat down with my manager and we outlined areas in which I could improve my knowledge and skill set.
I asked for further training in the children sector which included, moving and handling, diabetes awareness, PEG training to name a few. All of which we could categorise as ‘things for the present’ the next step was ‘going forward’. Both my manager and I decided that the only way forward to enhance my knowledge and skills was to enrol on an NVQ in Health and Social Care. I then was able to discuss my options with an NVQ coordinator, who would similarly discuss my past and current qualifications and experiences to put forward a plan of action. This would ultimately determine the level of NVQ required and any other additional support for key skills. As a result, I am currently doing my NVQ Level 2 in Health and Social Care, and I hope that upon completion I can revisit my PDP with my manager and assessor to discuss what extra initiatives are then needed to make yet further development.
I have learnt that there are many sources of support available to aid my own learning and development. In my case, as I embark on my level 2 NVQ in Health and Social Care first and foremost I have my very own trainer who I can relate back to should I need guidance. If I require more direct training in relation to the job I can access internal training by speaking with the management and Care UK. Team meetings and discussion groups are another way of gaining additional guidance and support, but I find liaising with colleagues at work helps greatly. Colleagues that have been working for the company for a number of years can offer vital on site, hand on experience to help with learning and development.
Benefits of PDP
Review personal and academic development to assess future learning initiatives. Put into context the benefits of learning outcomes.
Recognise and discuss strengths and weaknesses. Express personal goals and evaluate progress towards achievements. Identify different mediums available for learning and personal development. Improve general skills for study and career management.
Helps to be better prepared for the here, the now to aid future development. Encourage a positive attitude to learning.
The PDP does not only make effective plans of action for the learner but it also helps tutors, schools and employers to monitor progress, and helps increase the quality of support given through a more structured means.