Meet the challenge: make the most of CPD opportunities

CSP members seeking CPD opportunities face mounting challenges. Sophie Wickins from the CSP’s Championing CPD Project offers some helpful tips


CSP members seeking CPD opportunities face mounting challenges

As CSP members we are aware of the importance of linking our learning and development to the needs of our service users, and recognise how it can lead to the delivery of high-quality physiotherapy services.

In times of reforms, however, financial pressures and increasing demands on services, do managers, employers and commissioners also fully understand and support the importance of workplace learning and development?

This article is aimed at CSP members who are facing mounting challenges when pursuing learning and continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities; those in positions of leadership or service commissioning who are keen to support and develop a learning environment; and learning champions who may be able to help make the case for CPD and workplace learning.

Never before has the link between learning, training and staff development been so topical for managers and employers.

Recent high-profile reports have emphasised that learning, skills development and CPD are integral to ensuring that healthcare services are delivered by staff who are appropriately trained and supported to provide safe, effective and high-quality care.

The Francis report into failings in Mid Staffordshire makes a number of recommendations relating to the education and training of medical staff, nurses, support workers and leaders.

Although none is aimed specifically at physiotherapy staff, many of the recommendations are transferable to our profession to ensure patient safety and quality service provision.

The Cavendish review into support worker regulation recognises that support staff are a vital resource and encourages organisations to invest in rigorous training and development programmes which translate into day-to-day practice for them.

The Keogh review into the quality of care and treatment provided in the NHS states that staff training and development is vital to enhance patient experience and treatment outcomes. It calls on the NHS to support activities such as peer review, education and training.

The Berwick report into patient safety states that developing knowledge and skills relating to quality and patient safety should be integral to the initial and ongoing education of all those working in healthcare, including managers and leaders. The NHS should become a learning organisation, in which its leaders create and support an environment that embraces learning and change.

In addition, the annual NHS staff survey provides detailed local data relating to a wide range of topics affecting staff performance, wellbeing and productivity. These include access to learning opportunities and quality appraisals, and opportunities for professional development.

Good managers (in any workplace, from any professional background) know the value of motivated, well-supported staff. A truly engaged and developed workforce is more productive, delivers better quality services and results in greater service user satisfaction. A happy, skilled practitioner leads to happy, satisfied service users.

The NHS social partnership forum has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of learning and CPD for staff.

It has produced the ‘learning for life’ toolkit to encourage best practice in workplace learning.

The principles can be easily transferred to non-NHS workplaces. Visit the Social Partnership Forum website Learning for Life

By working collaboratively, managers, learning champions and stewards can develop a workplace that supports and enables learning and development as an integral part of the service.

Role of the learning champion

Learning champions can help managers create and support a learning environment within the workplace. These volunteers take on the role in addition to their usual one.

They support their peers’ learning and development in the workplace through promoting the CPD cycle as part of everyday practice, facilitating access to learning opportunities and resources, and by helping staff connect their personal learning to service delivery needs.

Role of the steward

Stewards can work with learning champions and managers to raise awareness of the importance of access to suitable training and development opportunities, negotiate protected time for these activities and ensure equity of provision for learning for all staff.

Stewards can also work with union learning representatives in other professions and CSP learning champions to highlight organisational learning needs from data collected via the NHS staff survey.

Role of manager

Managers are key to ensuring that learning is seen as a central component of effective service delivery. Learning doesn’t just happen through specific activities, such as formal courses, but is integral to everyday practice.

Enabling staff to recognise the learning that takes place in their everyday role, and enabling them to reflect, record and apply their learning as part of the ongoing CPD cycle will benefit both service providers and users.  Encouraging the role of a learning champion in your workplace could help you to achieve this. 

For more information, see Championing CPD on our website. fl

Further information

Using this article for your CPD managers and employers think about you own service or team.

  • How do you promote and support a culture of learning and development?
  • How could having a learning champion within your workplace be beneficial?
  • How could you use outcomemeasures, service user feedback and information from NHS staff survey to inform learning within your service?

Learning champions take a look at the Learning for Life toolkit.

  • What are the best practice recommendations that you could encourage within your workplace?
  • How could you promote your role as an opportunity to support managers create a learning culture in the workplace?
  • How could you use data such as outcome measures, patient feedback and information from NHS staff survey to inform learning within your team?
  • stewards and safety reps review your local NHS staff survey findings related to learning and development.
  • Discuss these with your local learning champion.
  • How could you work together to raise awareness of local learning needs and discuss these with your manager?

All members can consider the CPD cycle.

  • How can you strengthen the links between your own learning and the needs of your service users and service delivery?
  • How could you use data such as outcome measures and patient feedback to inform your own learning?
  • How could you make the most of the everyday learning opportunities available to you?


Sophie Wickins

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