‘Walk in the right direction, someone might be following you" - Mehmet Murat Idan
Community Connections operates in the wider Wellington, Palmerston North and Hawkes Bay areas. It offers support to people who have a disability with the aim of providing them with the natural supports necessary to enable them to live in their own home, connect with their community and enjoy an independent, fulfilling life.
Dee Hyde, professional development manager at Community Connections, developed the Community Connections Learning Portfolios (CCLP) to encapsulate the person centred values, philosophy and policies of the organisation. Through carefully tailored material and an integrated assessment process, studying the portfolios also results in the attainment of the Certificate in Health Disability and Aged Care Level 3 Core Competencies.
It recently became policy that everyone in the organisation completes the portfolios - irrespective of their role. In accordance with this policy, the executive team is the latest group to do the training, with the help of a Te Pou training grant.
This has resulted in some interesting outcomes.
Equity of Expectation
Joanna, general manager
“I found the course was a useful refresher on the learning all team members are undertaking and that is core and compulsory within the organisation. Doing the course was important because I was able to complete a national qualification which is relevant to the core work of the organisation and also sends a message of equity about the expectation of learning in the organisation.”
Margot, service coordinator
"The training reinforced previous learning, specifically the importance of following a process around inclusion and how this makes it easier for everyone involved, especially around reflection if things have not gone to plan; and how you could perhaps do things differently to improve the outcome. It was good to reflect on organisational policies and how they relate to everyday work.”
Although the course was not directly relevant for Margot’s own career development, she thinks it is certainly beneficial for new support workers.
Oliver, service manager
“The training was very useful and a nice reflection on how we do the things we do and why.” Completing the training has helped Oliver to reflect more on the support work role and on some of Community Connections policies and practices.
“I was specifically interested in the code of rights and the Treaty of Waitangi. The training has increased my ability to assist others to complete the training and has given me good reference points to coach staff from. This training is becoming more an industry standard and if I, as a service manager, want to encourage and support others to do this training, I will need to be able to relate to the learning.
"The learning portfolios were great and we are very lucky to have a dedicated professional development manager who rewrote the course content to be relevant to our organisation. It would have been nowhere as enjoyable and beneficial if it had been a more stock-standard course.”
Greater understanding of staff experience
John, executive director
“Although the course was not directly relevant to my role, it was very important for me to understand what and how staff are learning and the time pressure the training puts on people. I have learned to better appreciate the efforts people are putting in to complete the training.
"The training has motivated me to look into further post-graduate training and it has improved my credibility a little as I have done what everyone else has done.”
Endorsing value of study for staff
Christine, service ccordinator
Christine has mixed feelings about the training. She found it difficult to develop a good work, study and life balance during the training. As she has worked in the disability sector for many years and for more than ten years in her role as a service coordinator, the training did not offer any new learning for her. Although the training was not relevant for her own role or career development, she can see benefits for others.
“I endorse the fact that CCLP offers a great opportunity for all new staff to gain a qualification relevant to the services it provides for people. It is a way of ensuring all processes and procedures expected by the organisation are learnt. Confident staff can provide professional services.”
Christine feels that if staff are supported through the training process, they will become inspired and motivated and, through the positive impact of their learning on their work, be able to improve the lives of the people they support.
Motivation for further training
Bonnie, service coordinator
“This learning was relevant to my role and extremely useful as it related to all areas of my role. The training has improved my knowledge of the cultural aspects of my role as well as refreshed the policies and procedures that we work with at Community Connections. The training has helped me to gain confidence on a personal level, improved my time management skills, increased my ability to support new staff to complete the training and develop a can do attitude."
Although Bonnie would not have considered this training if it wasn’t compulsory, the training has motivated her to explore other disability sector training and she will continue to take opportunities to learn when they are offered.
Community Connections has always achieved 100 per cent completion rate for the Level 3 training and the managers were very relieved to have maintained this record.
Success has come in part through the development of an integrated professional development strategy, which “makes more visible all the opportunities we have to strengthen learning and helps connect all the dots, helps us think about all the places that learning takes place and all the people that are involved” says Dee Hyde.
And also experience. As this is the fourth group to take part in the training,Community Connections has continued to build support for trainees, including the provision of mentors, literacy support where necessary, active support from coordinators to incorporate the learning on a day to day basis, monetary reward for direct support staff and celebration and acknowledgement at a special graduation event.
Dee says that she received feedback that staff “who complete this learning are more confident and competent”. Dee says, "more confident staff ask questions, check things out and are generally more open to further learning. Staff have a better understanding where they fit in and how their role is connected with other roles. The organisation is fully committed to continue with the provision of this learning.”
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