Taking stock of practice placements in social care
SCI conference Kilkenny March 2012Margaret Gilmore, IT Sligo
A look back… Current courses have origin in Kilkenny one year course (1970-1980) Original demand was to train workers in residential child care settings Courses were mostly 2 or 3 year National Cert./Diploma (now levels 6 & 7) Small classes, mix of theoretical and practical Short placements e.g. 2 weeks x 2 yearly
Now and towards the future …• Current courses at BA levels 7 or 8, available countrywide• Prepare students for social care work in a wide context, both residential and community settings• BA level 7 is the professional qualification for social care practitioners
Placement Standards set by - Minimum of 800 hours specified by HETAC (2010) Draft standards from Coru (May 2010) with registration coming shortly IASCE Placement Policy document (2011) Practice Placement Manual available to IASCE members (2009, 2nd ed.) or colleges using their own manuals Supervision course available since 2006
In practice, what happens? Students have time and financial pressures Institutes may have difficulty with allocating resources to placements Placement agencies are under pressures of staffing, inspections, financial shortfalls Many agencies have closed Shortage of relevant Social Care settings with appropriate supervision
Importance of Placement Placement is vital to ensure that students can experience real life situations Apply theory to practice Experience best practice Test their own aptitude for Social Care Develop their identity as Social Care Professionals Get feedback from supervisor and work colleagues
Importance of Placement For the profession - Students bring enthusiasm, questions, energy, insights Professionals give and gain new perspectives into theory and/or practice Closer links between workplace and courses Supervision course, other collaborations Meeting with visiting tutors Professional identity re-inforced Mirrored by formation of Social Care Ireland from IASCW, IASCE and RMA
So – how to raise/retainstandards?• Course boards / Head of Department ensuring centrality of placement in documentation and resource allocation• Acknowledge placement as vital in each student’s learning• Mentoring of students before, during and after placement• Supporting supervisors –pre-arranged supportive tripartite visits, offering supervision course, clear documents, available to discuss issues
One Institute’s approach Overview2)Students3)Agencies4)Visiting Tutors Regular review of practice
One Institute’s approach At IT Sligo we have Placement Committee as sub-committee of Course Board Placement co-ordinator (lecturing staff member) Time allowance for visiting tutors Active membership of IASCE, using meetings to check best practice, using placement subcommittee as required Supervision course run regularly
One Institute’s approach1) Students work within Placement Committee policies - Submit placement request plus CV Attend mandatory placement preparation classes Meet placement co-ordinator as required Attend for interview / preliminary visit Sign IASCE principles and agree to IASCE placement policies Pass mandatory pre-placement essay before being allowed to go on placement
One Institute’s approach1) Students – Complete 30 hours per week x 13 weeks in semester 4 and again in semester 6 (each worth 30 ECTS) – Keep a learning journal – Complete Placement portfolio comprising 3 projects – Participate in 2 tripartite meetings – Participate in Placement Review and give a presentation to peers & staff
One Institute’s approach2) Agency – Is matched to student by placement co-ordinator – Formal request for placement by letter stating parameters / guidelines / learning objectives – Plus Practice Placement Manual and invitation to Supervision Course – Sign Placement Contract with student – Provide weekly supervision meetings with student – Participate in tripartite meetings – Complete the final report on placement
One Institute’s approach3) Visiting Tutor Is a member of staff lecturing on SC programme (job description is agreed) Completes an induction before visiting placements Is automatically a member of Placement Committee which has drawn up Placement Policies document Visits each student twice during placement Participates in Placement Review Marks visits and placement portfolio
Critical Review1) Students – like the support, find the associated work challenging but overall worthwhile2) Agencies – appreciate the visits and collaboration with the Institute; use the opportunity for relevant feedback / advice3) Visiting Tutors – find the experience helps them in continuing professional development; takes major commitment to fulfil role4) Institute – benefits from PR aspect, collaboration with Social Care professionals, international contacts etc.
Challenges remaining at IT Sligo How can we implement the IASCE Placement Policy guidelines e.g. on pre-placement screening? Re-inforce that Placement is earned, not a student’s right Only 2 attempts allowed for placement Service users / agencies must be considered We need to devise a system to ensure students are alerted to possible difficulties and supported in overcoming them: pre-placement portfolio of placement readiness
Personal Development Profiling(PDP) and Placement Readiness PDP is already established for students May be adapted to fulfil IASCE Placement Policy on placement readiness Will require more time input alongside Placement Preparation classes Pilot to begin 2012
Other Challenges Are we offering enough support to students and agencies? Feedback is positive but e.g. Should we use social media? Should we make more use of Moodle? Should we use webinars?
Other Challenges Range of experience Social Care covers all ages and vulnerable groups Currently we use 2 placement settings/student Transferable skills v. situation-specific skills: Should we increase placement hours? Should we encourage volunteering? Can we adequately monitor international placements? Should we develop specialisms in undergraduate course?
Other Challenges• Conforming to Coru and HETAC standards• Recessionary times• Developing an identity as a Social Care Professional• Developing strong, pro-active professionals who can cope with the wide demands of Social Care as a career• Developing self-care to prevent burnout• Preparing students for Registration
Summary Taking stock and heading forward .... Importance of placements in educating future generations of social care professionals Upholding standards One college’s approach & challenges remaining -All comments and feedback are welcome
References IASCE: Supervision course IASCE: Practice Placement Manual (2009) IASCE: Practice placement policy guidelines, available at http://socialcareireland.ie/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/IA Share P. & Lalor K. (eds) Applied Social Care, 2nd ed. Gill & Macmillan, Dublin
References 2 HETAC standards: http://www.hetac.ie/docs/B.2.9-5.5_Awards_Standards_So CORU (HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE PROFESSIONALS COUNCIL) DRAFT STANDARDS FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING Version 6 May 2010