Care Skillsbase

How to use the Skills Checks - quick guide

1. What are Skills Checks?

  • Skills Checks are short learning activities
  • They help you check speaking, reading, writing or number skills
  • They include Feedback and Personal development forms

Skills Checks are short learning activities that help you decide whether a member of staff has the communication and number skills needed to work safely and meet quality standards. They are simple to administer and quick: 10–15 minutes for the activity, plus 10–15 minutes for feedback. All Skills Checks are suitable for overseas staff.

Each Skills Check covers spoken communication, reading, writing or number skills. You gain a sense of the person’s ability. The person learns about using the skills in their job.

Each Skills Check includes a learning activity, a Feedback form and a Personal development form. Where appropriate, additional guidance and answer sheets are provided.

To deliver a Skills Check:

2. Who can deliver Skills Checks?

  • You don’t need to be a skills expert.
  • You do need to know enough about the person’s job to decide whether they have the skills required.

The interviewer is likely to be a health and social care manager, trainer or supervisor, but the choice is up to you and your organisation. Interviewers do not need any specialist knowledge or training, but do need good interpersonal skills and a clear understanding of the person’s job and the skills required.
It is important to make the Skills Check experience positive for the member of staff by being respectful and offering constructive feedback.

3. Before the Skills Check

  • Decide which skill you want to check and what you hope to learn
  • Select a suitable Skills Check and review it
  • Arrange a suitable time and place
  • Have pens and paper to hand

Preparation

Ask yourself what outcome you are seeking:

Choose the Skills Check that is most suitable in terms of topic (see A–Z topic list), level of difficulty and the way you do things in your organisation.

Make sure you understand how the Skills Check works so you can explain the process and answer questions. Decide what you think would be a good answer for each question (only Skills Checks for ‘using numbers’ come with an answer sheet).

Be sure to:

Your notes are likely to include specific examples of effective and ineffective communication or use of numbers, and anything you think the person should know about how things are done in your care organisation.

Your notes will be particularly helpful for spoken communication Skills Checks, where the activities are verbal.

4. During the Skills Check

Explain the process clearly.

For Skills Checks on spoken communication:

  • encourage the person with short questions
  • allow thinking time
  • listen, don’t interrupt.

For reading, writing and number Skills Checks:

  • let the person concentrate
  • don’t offer help during the Skills Check
  • go through answers together afterwards.

Getting started

What you do next depends on the skill you are checking.

Spoken communication Skills Checks

These Skills Checks help you hold a short discussion about a work-related topic to decide how effectively the person uses spoken communication.

Reading, writing and number Skills Checks

These Skills Checks are more formal. They include discussion but only after the member of staff has completed the Skills Check on their own.

When the 10 minutes are up, tell them not to worry if they have not finished and ask them to show you how they got on. Now you can help them with anything they did not understand. For number Skills Checks, look at the answer sheet together.

Making notes to support feedback

During the Skills Check, note specific examples of effective and ineffective communication or use of numbers by the person. Note also anything you think the person should know about how things are done in your care organisation.
Your notes will be particularly helpful for spoken communication Skills Checks, where the activities are verbal.

5. After the Skills Check

  • Discuss the person’s answers with them.
  • Use the Feedback form to agree results.
  • Use the Personal development form if learning is indicated.

Skills Check answers

Spoken communication, reading and writing Skills Checks do not have right or wrong answers. To judge what the person has answered, ask them to explain their reasoning.

Answer sheets are provided for number Skills Checks.

Interpreting and giving feedback

Ask yourself: On the evidence of the Skills Check, does this person have the communication and number skills required to work safely and meet quality standards?

Then use the feedback form to:

Completing the Personal development form

If you agreed that it would be useful to develop the person’s skills, you may wish to plan one or more development actions (e.g. shadowing a more experienced colleague). Use the Personal development form for this, either immediately after feedback or at a later date.
At the end of the Skills Check, ask the person whether they found the activity useful. Thank them for their thoughts and their time.


6. Skills Checks with staff from abroad

  • All Skills Checks can be used with staff from abroad.
  • Use the Feedback forms to review language skills.
  • Communication is about attitude and cultural knowledge as well as language.
  • Look for positives to boost the person’s confidence.

Skills Checks are written in simple, plain English that is typical of the care workplace. They can all be used with staff whose first language is not English.

The Feedback forms with each Skills Check help you review:

When you are checking the skills of staff from abroad, remember that effective communication depends on more than just knowledge of English.

A person’s attitude, interpersonal skills and their knowledge of UK care culture also matter. Skills Checks help you investigate all these issues.

Confidence is also important. Overseas staff may be a long way from home. Skills Checks offer you an opportunity to boost their confidence by recognising English language and care skills.

The more staff feel welcomed, valued and supported, the easier they will find it to communicate with clients and colleagues.

7. Skills Check links to induction standards and Health & Social Care qualifications

Skills Checks use bite-sized learning activities based on typical care work tasks and situations, such as using a care plan or coping with cultural differences. Although they are not mapped directly to care standards, many of the Skills Checks may be useful in relation to one or more of the standards.

We have produced a table of suggested relationships between the Skills Checks, the Common Induction Standards and the Health and Social Care Diploma Level 2 and 3 mandatory units. Our table is not definitive – use your own judgement, based on your own local circumstances, about how individual Skills Checks relate to standards.

8. A–Z of Skills Checks topics

Skills Checks use bite-sized learning activities based on typical care work tasks and situations.

Most Skills Checks cover several topics.