Choosing the best course for your staff...

Probably the question I am asked most frequently is: ‘Which is the right course for my staff?’

Particularly in relation to safeguarding and first-aid training. And as often the case there is no easy answer. I thought a few reflections on this topic might be useful.

Many of us today are slightly wary of risk assessments – we have to do so many for so many different things that we can become overwhelmed. However looking at risk is key when we consider staff and volunteer training needs.

For example there are two regulated first-aid courses for the workplace used by most organisations.  The one day Emergency First-Aid at Work and the full three day First-Aid at Work. On the one-day course the vast majority of time is spent  dealing with life-threatening situations. What do we do if someone isn’t breathing? How do we deal with somebody who has lost consciousness?

If you’re working in a low risk environment – and your staff or volunteers aren’t likely to be using equipment such as chainsaws, high-voltage electricity etc.,  you may decide the risk is such that the one-day course is suitable for your staff.  The other element of risk that you would need to consider is where you are located and how long it would take a first responder/ambulance to get to your workplace in an emergency. Again if this time is say between 10 and 15 minutes you would probably consider this fairly low risk and stick with your decision for a one day course.

However if you have a large workforce – obviously more bodies equals more risk – or you work in a very rural location, you may decide that the full three day course is more appropriate. And don’t forget the other thing to think about is what your insurers say – for example somebody who came on a recent three day course was a roofer and his insurers insisted he had the full three day qualification. And make sure you check out whether the qualification is regulated or not – I can offer you more advice on that.

Exactly the same process applies to considering relevant safeguarding training for a staff or volunteer team.   Anyone who comes into contact with children or adults at risk should know what to do if they are concerned about one of the service users or about the action of any member of staff. And that does mean anyone. Someone like a cleaner or handyman might notice something which others miss. So most organisations would require all staff to do at least introductory safeguarding training. Some staff or volunteers, by the nature of their role are more likely to come into contact with more challenging safeguarding situations. You may decide that more advanced training is appropriate for them. Again it is weighing up the risk against the likelihood. For example, for staff working in a residential home with young people there is a real risk of a ligature incident in some circumstances. Often the decision is made to train the whole staff team in responding to these incidents.

For family workers in people’s homes the risk of a ligature incident is not as high perhaps as the risk of a vulnerable young person in a family becoming involved in - for example - childhood sexual exploitation (CSE). Therefore the decision may be made that CSE training is more appropriate for the staff.

No staff team can ever be trained in everything and neither would that be right - we need to train staff in the skills to take action as appropriate in any challenging situation - however the use of a risk based approach will help with this.

And of course whatever you do – record the decisions you make about who needs which training and how you came to them!  If I can be of any support please do get in touch!

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