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The importance of continually providing knowledge and practice is to keep up with the constant changes that are happening all the time. Globalisation and technology have made changes in health and social care at a rapid rate. There has been a significant change in the way that care is being experienced and there are higher expectations in the quality of care. A more personal approach is required and accessibility to training resources ensures that we can all be the best in our job roles and in line with legal requirements. There are opportunities available now, thanks to technology advancements, to share responsibilities across the board, we have better access to other partnerships, training programs and can store more data than ever before and there are still developments every day. The importance of learning these developments is that we can change with the times and gain the new skills to improve the outcome for service users. The barriers to professional development require you to look in more depth at yourself. Everybody has a different way of learning, someone may learn a lot quicker than someone else, so it’s important to try to see what ways you retain information best.

Some people may learn from reading something over and over until it either makes sense or sticks with them. Some people may write down what they want to learn because it ingrains in there memory and some people may just listen to something and retain the information. It’s important to remember that what someone else might learn from a sentence may be more educational to them than if someone else was to read that very same sentence. Motivation can be another barrier; external factors can drive motivation and change behaviour like incentives to learn but internal barriers such as self-esteem, drive and desire can have an effect on professional development. An individual’s personal values, beliefs, attitudes and life priorities can impact significantly on the way people develop. Not having enough time to develop your skills or financial problems can be a big barrier to development. To get through these barriers, Support from peers, advice and mentoring may be required to help with individual developments. There are many different sources and systems to support professional development. At my organisation we have internal support which involves monthly supervisions with an advocate.

We go through training requirements, any training refreshment that need to be done; we go over policies and procedures and discuss our progress for professional development. We have training courses that cover every area of the care we provide and e-learning that all employees complete every 6 months, they are designed to refresh our training and inform us of new policies and procedures. You can also learn by working with more experienced colleagues and you can self-teach by reading text books and articles. You can develop your knowledge by using facilities such as libraries and learning resource centres and there is also formal support, colleague and university courses, internet courses, apprenticeships and government incentives. You can also use the policies and procedures put in place by your company to learn what is required and how to do things appropriately.

There are so many factors to consider when selecting opportunities and activities for keeping knowledge and practice up to date. There would be no point in starting a course in child care if your real desire was to become a hypnotherapist. Financial issues could be problem, your organisation may cover learning costs or you may need to look into whether you are entitled to government help or whether you will be self-funding. Time requirements could be a problem and your level of commitment; maybe you are a single mother, who cannot get child care to attend night school. Another factor could be, does the opportunity or activity fit with your learning style?, You may learn better from practical activities or learn better from reading and writing, finding the right form of professional development is key to being successful.

Be able to prioritise goals and targets for your own professional development In order to prioritise goals and targets for my own professional development, I look at the influences that have helped me to develop my performance so far and look at what my training has taught me and how it’s reflected in my work. I examine my strengths and weaknesses honestly and try to think about the way I practice in a constructive way. I have to evaluate myself by asking;

How did I approach my work?
Was my approach positive?
How did the way I work affect the people I support?
Did I work to the best of my ability?
Which was the best aspect of my work?
Which was the worst aspect of my work?
Is there area’s that I can improve?
What are they and how will I tackle them?

In health and social care there are benchmarks and standards that I can use to measure my own ability against, like the ‘care quality commission standards’ and ‘codes of practice’. By comparing my work against these standards I can improve on the areas that I am failing in, by setting goals of what I need to learn and targets to complete it by. To prioritise my own development goals and targets, I have to think realistically about what is necessary for my job role at that moment, for example; if you are developing your communication skills and working towards building relationships and trust, you cannot plan a set strategy to produce trust and this can take time.

But if you were developing your skills for independent living, encouraging accessing the community and shopping, this is something that is currently in my job role and could be a skill I can develop straight away. Making a plan to monitor each stage of developing skills will help me to see at what point something has not worked, for example; I am to Supporting Bobby with his shopping, but due to his mental health problems, he doesn’t feel comfortable being in a busy supermarket around lots of people. Putting a plan together with goals and targets will help to monitor Bobby’s progress; I could put a target in place to build Bobby’s confidence up enough so he can be in a supermarket. By recording this process and evaluating each step that it took to get him there, I improve my own skills and gain knowledge for any similar situations that may arise in the future.

Be able to prepare a professional development plan

To plan my own professional development with sources of support available to me, I will first have to arrange a meeting with my trainer and supervisor to identify the learning outcomes and objectives that I wish to achieve. We can then put a strategy together to meet these objectives and a time frame in which to complete them by and with their help and resources. When documenting evidence I will specify the duty, a goal, tools needed for reaching my goal and a completion date. I will then undertake the necessary educational activities, training and shadowing and collect more evidence for my portfolio. I will review my progress at regular intervals with my trainer and supervisor to discuss any updates and get feedback on my development. My portfolio will contain evidence of records of attendance and the support that was given, highlighted areas of what I would have done differently, highlighted areas of successful care and certificates of achievements.

I can also show in my portfolio, evidence of what has benefited my colleagues, i.e. protocols or guidelines that have been introduced because of things that I have learnt and feedback from colleagues on a job well done. I will show evidence of evaluating work that wasn’t done to the best of my ability and show evidence of what I have learnt to correct my work. I will put in my development portfolio evidence of any positive feedback, descriptions of new care plans made because of my positive changes, cards, letters or individual comments and positive audit results. This is an example of a plan that I would use for my own professional development. A service user I attend with learning difficulties needs a new wheelchair; the carers are finding it increasingly hard to push the service user around in the wheelchair for social visits. A healthy diet plan was encouraged but is not working as the service user lives independently, a wheelchair with a motor is needed to help the carers avoid any further injury and carry on supporting the service user to access the community.

I have been allocated the responsibility to assist the service user pick a new wheelchair with a motor, I can use this opportunity to develop new skills and document and evaluate my progress. There are a few barriers to overcome so monitoring the effectiveness of my support will help to evaluate my performance and relay any significant information to fellow colleagues and others crucial support in their care, ultimately helping the service user in the future. The main barrier is the lady doesn’t like change; it worries her and makes her very anxious, when she is anxious she gets the medical condition hives. Her confidence will need to be built up over time. The goal is to help the lady pick a new motorised wheelchair for accessing the community only, she can continue with the wheelchair she is familiar with, and likes at home, but the goal is to find one that the service user is 100% happy and secure in, to prevent any further injures to carers and to keep the lady involved in her daily routines.

The tools needed for succeeding with this duty is to have the families support, a risk assessment, a shop with accessibility and understanding with this sensitive issue and support from my managers and any other active partners that support with the service users care needs. For evidence I would put in my portfolio the emails from the partnerships, my advocate and myself that detail, the support that is needed, with the evidence that I have been allocated to support with this. The email will also show my reply, for the request of informing all other carers to reassure her when necessary for when she gets anxious and upset. I would put in place a communication diary especially to deal with this task, firstly to monitor any upset behaviour and how my colleagues and I resolved it and secondly I could use it as evidence.

I would keep a written account of how many trips to the shops and what her behaviour was like on each visit, I would record what helped keep her calm and feeling secure and record anything that failed and how we made it better. I would keep a medical record of any outbreaks of hives and how it was treated. I would have regular meetings with my advocate to get feedback, discuss updates, ask for any advice or help that I need and review the completion date. I would discuss attending training courses that could help me with addressing this situation to the best of my ability, like manual handling, first aid, communication skills and keep evidence of my achievements. I would finally add to my portfolio evidence of the service user (in line with confidentiality requirements) accomplishing this task, I would get evidence of how long it took to achieve and what the final outcome was.

Be able to improve performance through reflective practice

Models of reflection encourage a structured process to guide the act of reflection, there is no right model of reflection, but it is important to choose the one that you feel comfortable using and best assists you to learn from your experience. Sometimes it is appropriate to use one model of refection as a basis, but use prompt questions from other models if they suit your particular situation. I found Bortons Model of reflection easy to remember; therefor making it is easy to apply to an experience as it happens. What, So What, Now What, the simplicity of the model helps evaluate quickly and simply an experience but does not allow for specific details as opposed to Gibbs Model. Johns Model of reflection is based more on self-awareness and self-improvement. It allows you to analyse influencing factors on your thoughts and behaviour, what triggers the behaviour and you can delve far more intimately into your feelings, opinions and judgements and intern how this affected who you are working with.

This level of learning allows you to evaluate very deeply on all levels, morals, background, knowledge, self-awareness, past experiences and future practice, making this model of reflection by far more personal and a more appropriate model for self-improvement and self-development. The Kolb model is made up of 4 steps and learning can start at any of the steps at any time, there is no process. When a person carries out an action they can both, observe and reflect upon its underlying process and possible consequences. The action becomes open for analysis, concepts can be tested at further through new experiences in order to both validate and develop them further. Gibbs Model of reflection is a more descriptive model of Kolb’s and it also has a process in which to follow allowing for deeper analysis. Gibbs model gives you more a detailed structure in which to evaluate your experience, which is why I found it to be more widely used in the healthcare industry.

The theory follows 6 steps of the model, and each step informs the next. I found that using Gibbs model and examining an experience in greater detail was very beneficial but found the Evaluation, Analysis and conclusion asked very similar questions which seemed to be a little repetitive. But Gibbs model challenged my assumptions more and allowed me to explore more ideas to promote self-improvement more than the other models. Of all the models of refection I have researched I found these 4 more beneficial to my learning and self-improvement and they even challenged what I thought I already knew. By using Gibbs Cycle as a basis and applying the descriptive evaluations of all the other models to the specific levels, I can examine myself in far more depth and improve my quality of work consistently. Reflective practice is thinking or reflecting on what you do, it is learning from an experience and teaching you evaluation skills to examine your actions and reactions. Thinking about what has happened is part of being human but reflective practice differentiates between casual thinking and reflective practice, it requires a conscious effort to think about events and develop insights into them.

Once you get into the habit of using reflective practice, it becomes a skill and you can develop it every day, in every type of situation. Feedback from others is a very important part of reflective practice, as you cannot always see what your own faults may be or you may not want to hear what faults you have. Considering feedback as another opportunity to learn will develop your self-awareness and can start a process of change that will benefit anyone that you work with. For example, very early on in my healthcare career, I supported an elderly lady with learning disabilities, since her husband past away; she would get very lonely and ask to move a lot. Her social worker and advocate had taken her to see a few warden controlled apartments in a more communal building, but the lady did not like them and it gave her a bad experience of what she thought was available to her. I work in a few homes for elderly service users with learning disabilities and I invited my service user round for tea, so she could see a different kind of living situation, a house share that could be available.

Whilst the trip was successful in the way that the lady now knew of a different living arrangement, at a meeting shortly after, that involved other healthcare providers for the service user, I acquired feedback from the ladies advocate that showed my own faults and issues that wasn’t within my capability to see. My intention had been misunderstood and Unknown to me the service user had wanted and was adamant, that a housemate was to move into her own home as she had a spare room; this was not a suitable situation for another vulnerable adult to move into because of the service user’s regular change of behaviour, and the house shares have a carer on duty at all times.

If I had informed and attained advice on this situation it could have been dealt with in a different way. My lack of knowledge and understanding of how my actions could been seen as something different for a service user made me evaluate at what level I went wrong and how to rectify this problem so it is not an issue in the future. The advocate commended me on my thoughtfulness but advised certain aspects need to be considered when working with this particular service user. Trial and Error is always going to be a big part of my learning development, working with others there is always going to be the potential for harm, both physically and emotionally. It is imperative that practice changes as a result of these mistakes.


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