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CPD: it’s not just about training

Carmen Colomina, practice development manager at the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), explores how CPD supports her work.

CPD: it’s not just about training

8/13/2020 9:30:00 AM

In an ongoing series of guest blogs, people from a range of backgrounds share their lived and learned experiences of current social work practice. In this blog, we caught up with Carmen Colomina, practice development manager at the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), about how CPD supports her work.

I’ve been a social worker for 26 years. I qualified in Spain in 1994, initially working with prisons, and on substance misuse and domestic abuse cases. Then, in 2001, I came to the UK and began working as a social worker for the elderly. I then moved to project management and practice improvement in health and social care, which is what I do now at SCIE.

Day to day, I support the improvement of social care and social work practice through delivering training, carrying out social care practice reviews, and developing resources such as decision making tools and webinars. I work alongside both NHS England and social care organisations, including charities and the voluntary sector, to support change and improve practice.

The best thing about my work is the opportunity to work with and learn from such a wide variety of people from different backgrounds and professions. I also love that I can support individuals to be their best possible self, and lead happy and fulfilling lives.

Whilst I don’t directly provide support to adults and/or carers in my current role, I do support the professionals and organisations, who then work with people in their communities.

My key challenges are a lack of legislative knowledge from social workers, and dealing with the culture within local authorities. They can impede social workers from exercising their professional judgement, and prevent them from being held accountable for their decisions.

That’s why I think CPD is so important. It supports positivity, professionalism and accountability. It puts the onus on the professional, not the organisation they work for.

Log it frequently

I have only recently started doing CPD myself and have realised the best thing is to log it frequently, soon after an experience. That reflection does not always happen automatically, so doing CPD helps me process what I have learned and how it will impact my practice. This ensures what I have learned becomes embedded, and I can then apply it to future situations.

On the Social Work England online account I tend to use the unstructured form, as I prefer to have a free text box. However, I do use the questions and sections from the structured forms as prompts, to support my thinking and to help me organise my reflections.

Recently, I uploaded learning relating to some training I am developing, because I learn a lot through the process of creating training, as well as from people’s feedback on it. I have also uploaded CPD from the delivery of Section 42 workshops on safeguarding adults’ enquiries, as not only did I learn from developing them, but from delivering them to a variety of delegates who provided such valuable contributions and experiences.

It's not just about training, it is about any type of learning

I don’t normally have much time or availability to attend training courses, due to work commitments. I do however travel around the country a lot, or used to before the pandemic, and used a lot of my travel time to read blogs and articles on topics of interest in health and social care.

For example, in 2014 I was told I was to project manage the implementation of the Care Act. I was working in a London Borough at the time, and my commute was only 30 minutes, but I started reading everything I could about the Care Act 2014 on those journeys. I ended up supporting the implementation of the Care Act in a local authority, and in my SCIE role, my expert knowledge of the Care Act 2014 is key.

As so much of my learning is reading or based online, I’ve been able to continue CPD through the pandemic.

Whilst my training has been incredibly valuable, it is important that people understand that CPD is not just about training. A lot of my learning comes from reading articles and policies, while I also get a lot out of a good discussion with or a challenge from colleagues.

As a trainer and change manager, it is crucial to understand others’ points of view, to take them into account or be able to debate them. I like to hear colleagues’ points of view on things we’ve been reading. It’s helped me realise that they offer a completely different perspective from my own, which I may or may not agree with, but can always learn from.

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