Workforce training

Workforce training focuses on helping health professionals, health coaches and others involved in supporting people to manage their own health to develop additional skills and techniques they can use in consultations.

As part of our Co-creating Health programme, we distilled the evidence about how best practitioners can support people to have the confidence, skills and knowledge to manage their own health into a training programme.  The programme is designed to enable health professionals, health coaches and others to develop their understanding of self-management support, learn the specific skills and practices that are known to be effective which they can use in consultations to better support people.  

We have found that following training many clinicians also report that they over-rated their pre-training confidence and ability to enable self-management support.  They also report positive impacts on their own health and well-being. View and download the resources we developed to run a Practitioner Development Programme.  

Through Co-creating Health we also learnt about some of the challenges to providing this training and how to overcome them.  Although our learning was focused on training health professionals, much of it is transferable to self-management support training programmes being provided to all workforces including those who are not health professionals or who are working outside the NHS.  Our learning include:

Ensure that senior leaders and senior clinicians attend the training, including those from social care as well as health care.
These senior leaders and role models help to embed self-management support in the ethos and practice of the service by attending the Practitioner Development Programme, changing their practice, supporting new systems and supporting other members of their teams to use their self-management support skills.

Train staff in teams or whole groups of staff from the same service
Self-management support is a culture shift; focusing training on a whole team or service is a key approach to creating the shift that is needed.  Training the whole team promotes the development of a common language and a common understanding of key self-management support concepts.  It creates a “critical mass” of trained staff within a team or service that helps to create an environment that is positive about self-management support.  And it enables health professionals and staff to support each other through the process of change and also to consider, design and plan together beneficial service changes.

Incorporate self-management support skills into wider medical and healthcare education and continuing professional development
Previous experience of using or learning about similar skills, such as motivational interviewing, solution-focused therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy, has been shown to increase how receptive clinicians are to self-management support.  Sites working on the Health Foundation’s Co-creating Health programme worked with medical schools, Deaneries for GP training schemes and local universities to build self- management support skills training into existing courses and programmes.

Adapt the content, format and delivery of training to suit local needs
The Health Foundation has developed a Practitioner Development Programme to support self-management support, but sites working on our Co-creating Health programme found this worked best when it was adapted to local needs.  Examples of this include:

  • Offering different levels of training to suit different groups of staff e.g. in Torbay the development of three ‘levels’ of training: ‘gold’ which is the full Practitioner Development Programme run over three half days; ‘silver’ which covers the core elements in one half-day workshop; and ‘bronze’ which introduces clinicians and other staff to the key ideas and tools in a two-hour session. 
  • Reducing the overall time commitment required e.g. at Whittington Health, reducing the length of the sessions from three to two hours for GPs and in Cambridge offering the option of an ‘in- house’ short course (three one-and-a-half-hour sessions).
  • Re-packaging the course to make it more accessible e.g. in Ayrshire and Arran, recognising that people have different learning needs, they moved to a much more menu-based approach. They still offer the Practitioner Development Programme in face-to-face workshops, but also run monthly introductory sessions, and have developed an e-learning course which is supplemented by a practical session where staff can practice the skills they have learnt. Read the case study about Ayrshire and Arran's e-learning module.
  • Offering ‘bespoke’ courses designed to link clinician training to service objectives e.g. in Cambridge they developed a modified course for Cambridge Community Services designed to help deliver Personal Health Planning, a strategic health authority (SHA) priority at that time
  • ‘Marketing’ the Practitioner Development Programme to reflect local terminology and priorities e.g. in Ayrshire and Arran they renamed the Practitioner Development Programme course Working in Partnership ; in Calderdale and Huddersfield they promoted the programme through the Kirklees Health and Wellbeing Courses public health training programme; and in Cambridge they delivered the Practitioner Development Programme as part of the GP training scheme.

Download materials from the Health Foundation's practitioner development programme including a practical guide, overheads, handouts and a workbook.