Thames Reach
Sunday 19 November 2017
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Induction and training

Photo of a former trainee
Mark Whiteford, a former service user trainee, is now a project worker at Thames Reach's Robertson Street hostel

Comprehensive training needs to be provided to service user trainees. This ensures that they are quickly able to perform their role and feel comfortable in the work environment, and also so that other members of staff feel confident in trainees' abilities and understanding of professional boundaries.

Organisations need to decide:

  • Which training courses will be provided to trainees?
  • At what point will the training course occur within the traineeship? 
  • Will the training be accredited? 

Three main training models exist within traineeships:

  1. Little formal training is provided; trainees learn primarily through on-the-job experience

  2. Formal training is staggered throughout the traineeship

  3. A significant proportion of the formal training is delivered at the start of the scheme/programme and additional training is provided throughout the duration of the traineeship

In some instances, training is accredited (NVQ or NCO). 

Thames Reach’s training model

Thames Reach decided on the third option and provides a significant amount of training to new trainees in the first month of the traineeship and some additional days in the second and third months.

Further formal training is then provided on an ad hoc basis for the duration of the traineeship.

We chose this model because we are keen to:

  • Develop highly skilled and loyal members of staff who work to a high standard and assist in improving our services
  • Ensure that service user trainees begin their job feeling confident and well equipped. In particular, support worker trainees feel confident in working with clients
  • Prevent breaches to the Code of Conduct and other serious mistakes that may put clients, trainees or other staff at risk
  • Ensure other members of staff feel confident in a trainee’s abilities and in particular, trainees’ understanding of professional boundaries, confidentiality and office etiquette
  • Ensure that trainees are able to easily and quickly feel comfortable in their new working environment, especially as many service users have never worked in an office before.

GROW candidates and current trainees report that they believe there is a lot to learn if they want to be effective in their new role, especially, if they have never worked in an office, in a team, or in support role before.

For organisations wondering if the cost of training is justifiable, in our experience we have found that the enthusiasm, determination and commitment that nearly all trainees bring to the role ensures that learning opportunities are maximised and progress is achieved. 

Thames Reach chose not to accredit our training programme. The rational for this decision was based on:

  • Our reluctance to create additional expectations and pressure on trainees

  • Our desire to keep trainees focused on a job rather than an educational outcome 

  • Feedback from trainees Thames Reach has employed over the last 2 years

  • The continued lack of value the sector places on NVQ/OCN accreditation

Although the Thames Reach scheme is not externally moderated, the trainees on the scheme are monitored against an internal competence framework. They must compete for all jobs as part of an open recruitment process demonstrating they have the required skills, knowledge and attitude to do the job.  

The training programme

The training programme consists of a core training programme, a rolling training programme, as well as specific training for service user employees. Our training material can be downloaded from the traineeship resources page.

Core training programme

  • Protection of Vulnerable Adults
  • Working with Challenging Behaviour
  • Working with Diversity
  • Fire Safety
  • Basic First Aid
  • Manual Handling 
  • New staff organisational induction day
  • Complaints and listening scheme
  • Situational risk assessments
  • Needs & Risk Assessments and Support Planning
  • Client monitoring system: LINK database
  • Resettlement

Rolling training programme

  • Working with Drugs and Substance Misuse 
  • Working with Problem Drinkers
  • Mental Health Awareness  
  • Getting the most out of supervision
  • Benefits for Single Homeless People
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Social Networks

Thames Reach has developed some specific training for service user trainees. The ideas were gathered from focus groups with Thames Reach staff and service users, and examples of good and bad practice from across the sector.

Specific training for service user trainees

  • Induction into the traineeship
  • Aspirations – becoming an excellent work 
  • Code of Conduct – professional behaviour and confidentiality
  • Disclosing your history of homelessness
  • Managing Work Related Stress
  • How do people learn and developing your support work competencies
  • Dealing with authority 
  • Appreciations, coping with change, accepting constructive feedback
  • Office etiquette
  • Office Skills, i.e. IT training
  • Communications
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Team Working

The core and rolling programme training sessions are held in a mixed group of trainees and other new staff who are not trainees.

The training specifically aimed at service user employees is held in a closed group just with them.