Competency frameworks: How I made a difference

Direct Health Group is a national domiciliary care provider. We send carers into people’s homes – they care for the elderly, the disabled, and children, as well as providing palliative care. We have 20 branches and more than 2,000 staff.

There are a lot of national care delivery standards that staff must reach, as well as internal standards – our key aim is to provide high-quality service. As staff work alone, in clients’ homes, monitoring and checking them is a problem. We needed some way of ensuring that staff met all of the necessary standards.

Obviously doing a spot- check is helpful, but you can only do that from time to time – and people tend to perform differently under those circumstances. We needed to know how they were working on a day-to-day basis.

One-to-one meetings

We already had a system in place where staff came in for a one-to-one meeting – this was focused on support and development. I then introduced a competency framework – something more detailed than usual, that covered both industry and internal standards.

We put together workshops for the staff – usually line managers – who would deliver the supervision.

We did it in such a way that it seemed quite natural for them to have conversations with their staff, and to ask them certain questions, so that we could get them to open up and discuss the issues that they needed to, for us to match against the competency framework. There was lots of reflective questioning, lots of checking how they do things, and asking for examples.

Staff understanding

It really did have a significant impact, not only in the quality of service we provided, but also in terms of the employees’ understanding of where they were within the organisation and what was expected of them.

Staff were also much clearer about the support we could offer them, and about the potential for their own development. They felt much more valued by the organisation.

We then offered training, including mentoring and coaching, around weaknesses identified during the process. In some cases, staff even had to revisit part of the induction process.

And we were also able to identify and tackle problems at branch, rather than individual, level.

Why it worked…

  • We have ambitious standards

  • We listened to staff

  • We were consistent

Rebekah Adey, head of HR, Direct Health Group

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