Socially distanced education and training to support safe working practices during the pandemic

Case study: Learning identified by the CNO National Shared Professional Decision-Making Council.

Background of change and intervention

In order to minimise the transmission of Covid-19 some NHS Trusts have worked to develop new ways of working to ensure nursing and midwifery staff can continue to access education and training in safe, supportive environments during the pandemic. Utilising their collective skills and expertise nurses and midwives have ensured colleagues such as those who been redeployed into different roles or may be new starters within their organisation, that they have the right skills to manage the demand for care during the pandemic. This case study reflects on the learning and the experience of National Shared Profession Decision-Making Council members around education and training in a socially distanced safe environment to help support reductions in the potential transmission of infections.

Learning and advice to be shared

Recognising the need to work in a different way, Trusts have responded by adapting their education and training offers. During the pandemic significant amounts of training has often needed to be undertaken as services look to strengthen kills, such as critical care, and, of course, Trusts have continued to support their new starters as well as their existing staff. Where training was previously undertaken face-to-face, it was now considered for online/virtual delivery and where this was not appropriate, new ways of delivering face-to-face developed.

Using their collective leadership, nursing and midwifery colleagues have successfully been able to convert a range of training activities to provide a virtual offering, including:

  • New starter training being delivered virtually using IT systems to support the bringing together of these individuals through activities such manual handing, and basic life support theory.
  • Multi professional training has been offered through monthly webinars. These training webinars are also hosted on Trust local intranets which offers more flexibility for staff.

To support face-to-face training, where this option is preferable, several modifications have been made to ensure this can be continued safely throughout the pandemic, including:

  • Practice Educators rotating across clinical areas to offer support, training and education in bespoke ways.
  • Group activities are being reconfigured to be undertaken on a 1:1 basis. Specific training packages such as IV administration are being delivered on wards and units instead of larger scale cohorts.
  • New starters ‘buddy’ roles being deployed through experienced colleagues to support as they start within clinical areas and to support their ongoing learning.
  • Where group training is conducted organisations have successfully assessed risks , looking, for example, at how  the number of participants can be reduced to enable social distancing and how  partnership working with estates colleagues can help the management of  the staggering of breaks during sessions and adapting content to maintain social distancing.

Would it be beneficial to retain these changes?

The opportunity to learn and develop is a key ingredient of a rewarding career and a supportive environment.  So, it is important that nurses can continue to undertake development activities that support them in their careers even if this means organising it somewhat differently.  Additionally, there will be an ongoing need to enhance a variety of skills for new and existing staff through the future progression of the pandemic. Adapting delivery of this training can support staff by offering greater flexibility whilst keeping teams safe.

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