Exploring education and training in relation to older people’s health and social care

“When you talk to people about what they find challenging about the work… it’s about the training that we need to work in a different way, working in a person-centred way, an integrated way. So it’s the sort of skills and behaviours and attitudes that we need for that way of working as much as it is about the content…”
(Stakeholder, Picker Report)

In 2013/14, following the findings of the Francis Report, we launched our Older People’s Care Improvement Initiative, a programme aimed at improving health and social care for older people. The programme, which consisted of several strands, is now drawing to its conclusion and has, to date, committed around £3M on making a real difference to the lives of older people.

The final strand of the programme, launched in 2017, involved commissioning Picker Europe[1] to carry out a review of the current education and training landscape for the health and social care workforce, its latest developments and whether there might be certain professions delivering care to older people which may benefit from enhanced education and training, and what this might involve.

We are now pleased to publish the report of this work, which involved both a systematic review of any existing research on the link between education and training and health outcomes, and range of focus group and stakeholder engagement activities (including a Public and Patient advisory group) to assist in understanding how the education and training of the various health and care professionals involved relates to older people’s care quality.

The key themes emerging were these:

  • existing research is scarce and its results are inconclusive;
  • the amount and quality of education and training seems to be varied and inconsistent across geographies and professions;
  • education and training are important but continuing professional development, access to knowledge and information and a positive and supportive culture, which has person-centred care at its heart, were more so;
  • there seem to be organizational barriers in the NHS to making change, together with a perception of lack of recognition and reward for good practice.

While the research highlighted the lack of consistency of approach in recruitment practices, training standards and requirements, there seemed to be some real passion and dedication among both senior and junior participants which seem to indicate a very solid foundation for change.  It is examples like these we wish to identify and celebrate.

We are therefore calling upon all those with influence in the education and training of our health and social care workforce to share with us how they are working to address the gaps, improve the consistency of delivery and to celebrate areas of good practice which, in particular:

  • take a person-centred, team-based approach to older people’s health and social care;
  • make specialism in older people’s care an attractive, aspirational career choice
  • delivery of multi-professional workforce solutions for high quality patient care and to encouragement of wide participation across all healthcare roles.

We are planning to play our part by:

  • sponsoring a new category which celebrates excellent team-based and person-centred care for older people at the 2019 British Medical Journal Awards;
  • offering prizes at each UK Medical School and Faculty of Health for mentors who demonstrate and promulgate in their students and staff kindness, empathy and dignity in older people’s care and/or relevant and innovative curriculum developments;
  • working collaboratively with those involved in the training and education of our health and social care workforce on initiatives that can improve the quality and consistency of delivery of older people’s care.


[1] a leading international charity with expertise in research in the field of person centred care, with a history of supporting those working across health and social care systems measuring patient experience to drive quality improvement in healthcare.


Full report


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