Embedding RiPfA into the London Borough of Lambeth

11 December 2017

London Borough of LambethDavid Till

Link Officer of the Year, David Till, offers tips to help other Research in Practice for Adults (RiPfA) Partners to get the best out of their membership.

As one of the Learning and Development Advisors at the London Borough of Lambeth, I support staff and managers in the Adults and Health Directorate, which includes social work and integrated health services. My background is not in social care – I came to work with this group of staff in 2014, when I joined Lambeth after a time with the Inner North West London tri-borough NHS. Since arriving at Lambeth, budget pressures have inevitably changed the way we support our frontline colleagues but not necessarily in a negative way. It has given us the opportunity to reflect on the impact of learning and practice on our frontline colleagues in Lambeth Adult Social Care and in turn, the positive impact on our clients.

My background is in marketing. I studied at the University of Portsmouth, graduating in 2009. Like all good marketing campaigns, the key to Lambeth’s recent success has been communication. In the last twelve months, Lambeth have seen a 500% increase in RiPfA usage. Without doubt, this can be attributed to a greater focus on communication, ensuring that RiPfA and self-directed learning are on team agendas and by blending resources with traditional methods of training, making sure that learning materials are available at the point when staff need them in day-to-day practice. It has involved a great collaborative effort between Lambeth and RiPfA colleagues to embed this approach – it didn’t happen overnight and the work definitely isn’t done yet! Lambeth’s Learning and Development Team can’t accept the credit alone for the increase – managers have developed and nurtured a more innovative approach to learning, recognising a more diverse range of learning styles.  

I am very pleased to have been awarded Link Officer of the Year at this year’s Link Officers’ Annual Meeting, but our increase in usage is without doubt due to the hard work of a number of people. Our team played a huge part in driving up usage, embedding RiPfA into all learning activities and encouraging managers and staff to explore content at every opportunity and this is recognised by the adult social care senior management team. In commenting on the award, our Deputy Principal Social Worker said:

‘David and the Learning and Development Team have always been proactive in developing training events that met the needs of the social work teams, which has been a challenging task in this financial climate. The training events that the team have arranged have helped develop the practice of adult social workers, and develop their confidence to become competent in their roles. This has been particularly evident in the development of Newly Qualified Social Workers and supporting staff with their CPD.

The team have creatively found different types of training, which are based on evidence-informed practice like RiPfA, to meet the needs of adult services and is proactive in promoting training and learning opportunities throughout the council.’

Here are a few tips to help other Link Officers get the best out of their subscription:

Embed RiPfA materials in all learning activities

A well-known theory suggests that 70% of workplace learning is taken from 'on the job' experience (70:20:10 training model is most effective for learners, CIPD 2017) and this is exactly the point at which we have made RiPfA materials available – when staff are doing their day jobs. Mapping our core and specialist training programmes to RiPfA resources has given our frontline colleagues access to learning whenever they need it, either as self-directed activity or in preparation for a classroom or online training session. A big thanks to Oli Preston at Research in Practice for Adults, for helping to implement this in Lambeth.

Getting the right content for your tailored training days

The Tailored Support training days are an excellent resource and always popular with Lambeth colleagues. Deciding on content for these sessions is not easy, especially as priorities for our teams are so varied. This really was a decision that needed input from senior managers within Lambeth Adult Social Care, and with their guidance we have delivered workshops on ‘Analysis and Critical Thinking in Assessment’ and ‘Evidence in Decision Making’ both of which have received very positive feedback, with a marked increase in participant confidence levels measured at the start and end of the sessions.

Our practitioners have also attended RiPfA workshops and have found them an extremely useful addition to our own learning plan.

Setup a network of champions

Embedding learning within your service is a big task and you don’t have to do it all alone! In Lambeth, we have a committed network of champions who review resources and relay information to their colleagues during informal training sessions and team meetings. Our champions all have varying levels of experience, but all show great dedication to research, learning and helping their colleagues to develop in their roles.

For the future, we aim to build on our recent success with RiPfA by further embedding learning into practice and developing our network of champions so that informal learning becomes an even greater part of day-to-day work for Lambeth.  

About the author

David Till is a Learning and Development Advisor and the Link Officer for the London Borough of Lambeth. 

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