Introduction In this unique care environment, palliative and respite care is provided for young adults with a diverse range of life limiting conditions, who have complex and multiple care needs. Thus, the demands on healthcare assistants, with regard to the range and level of skill required to care for these patients, is equally diverse. In light of recent commentary on the debate surrounding the registration and regulation of healthcare assistants, the organisation began to consider how best to prepare for these likely changes. It was concluded that robust assessment and maintenance of competence would be essential. A review of competency based training packages currently available was undertaken. However, due to the diverse skills practised by healthcare assistants in this environment, these packages were not suitable to meet the training needs identified.
Aims Inspired by competency based training packages available locally, a clinical skills competency framework was devised as a practice based learning and assessment process. The clinical skills competency framework was developed as a single document that would serve as a record of competence and training for the organisation and the individual, a template for assessment of competence and also form the basis of a professional portfolio of clinical skills for the healthcare assistant.
Methods A focus group was formed in order to compile a standardised skill list for healthcare assistants within the organisation. Competencies were compiled, alongside evidence based training packages, by registered nurses with particular skill, experience or interest in the relevant area of care, thus acting as a development exercise for the nurses as well.
Conclusions The collation and implementation of this training package has been the catalyst for a cultural shift within the organisation, towards integration of practice focused teaching and assessing into all aspects of clinical work.
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