Pilot course offers aspiring social care managers a Step Up

A pioneering scheme which aims to better equip future managers in social care, has been launched as a result of a collaboration between the South East Wales Social Care in Partnership (SCiP), the University of South Wales and the Care Council.

The pilot ‘Step Up to Management’ course launched at the University of South Wales (Monday, November 30), with organisers adding that the wealth of interest from prospective candidates demonstrates that the programme – the first of its kind in the UK – is long overdue for the sector. 

The new course for social care workers aspiring to management is designed to equip them with the knowledge and understanding needed to make the transition. 

It will focus on leading person-centred practice; understanding the theories, models and frameworks of leadership and management; and understanding the leadership and management of effective team performance. 

Karen Wakelin, workforce development manager at the Care Council, welcomed the first cohort of 39 students who were selected from across south Wales to take part. 

Addressing the students, Karen said as a result of her own managerial background in social care, she understood all too well the challenges workers often face in confidently progressing to management. 

She added: “I passionately believe that the role managers undertake is complex and managers need support and the knowledge to gain the skills they need to undertake the role. 

“We want students to feel that, after completing ‘Step Up to Management’, they have a firm foundation to go on and do that.”

Among the students selected for the course is Kevin Baker, a young persons’ worker with Drug Aid in Pontypool. 

The 31-year-old from Ystrad Mynach said: “For me it’s all about gaining that understanding that will help me bridge that gap between my role and management. 

“To get from case worker to senior to manager, you really need that knowledge and the opportunities to get that are quite few. 

“It can often be Catch-22 – you need to be in a senior role to get that senior knowledge. This course will break that cycle a bit.”

Sandra Oliffe, who runs a horticultural and wildlife awareness project for people with learning difficulties in Blackwood, said she believed the course was ideal for those already ‘unofficially’ carrying out managerial tasks, who were hoping to progress to management level.

“I jumped at the chance to take part in the pilot, because I wouldn’t have been able to access any other qualification before because I’m not considered a manager. 

“I’m really passionate about my role and I’m hoping to learn to be a more effective communicator, with everyone from line managers to volunteers, students and service users, so I can continue to get the most out of it and continue progressing. 

“I would be delighted to see this course become permanent because it can offer so much to the sector.”

Carolyn Wallace, Reader for Integrated Care at the University of South Wales, said: “I’m the award leader for the BSC Health and Social Care Management [course] and through running that award it became clear that ‘Step Up to Management’ is something that is long-overdue. 

“To come together to deliver that with the Care Council is an ideal situation.

“For some of our students there’s also the added value of being in a university setting, something that they never thought they would experience.

“They’re also being supported by their employers to undertake the course which shows there is recognition within the sector that management progression and development needs to be supported if we are to secure the best managers for the future.”

Madhulata Patel, content designer for the course’s first module, at the University of South Wales said: “With the focus on person-centred practice, I hope the students will gain an instinctive sense of values and beliefs that will support their leadership.

“Often social care managers are put in situations where they have to make difficult decisions quickly. 

“If they have this strong value base, where the person they care for is the centre of all their decisions, before they take on that management role, they’ll be much more confident in making those decisions in the future.”

Also at the launch were members of the SCiP steering group, including Rhondda Cynon Taf vocational qualification centre manager, Cheryl Stevens; deputy domiciliary care manager Jane Davies; and Hayley Abraham, a senior staff development officer at Children’s Services Newport, who have each helped ensure the pilot scheme’s implementation. 

Content for the ‘Step Up to Management’ programme has already been shared with partners in England, who are considering a similar model for aspiring social care managers.

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