The WDF is changing – essential (and urgent) information for care home managers

As a care home manager, you wear several hats. These include responsibilities for increasing the quality of your people and keeping costs to a minimum. The Workforce Development Fund (WDF) may have proved crucial to achieving these aims in the past. It should do in the future. But there are some important changes happening to the WDF this year. These could put your current workforce development plans into a tailspin.

In this article, you’ll learn about the key changes to the WDF that could affect you. You’ll also learn how to ensure they don’t make a negative difference.

What is the WDF?

The WDF is a fund set up to help increase the level of skills within the care sector. Care homes can apply for money to help pay for training and qualifications for their staff. This includes:

  • Health and social care qualifications, such as the NVQ in Health and Social Care
  • Apprenticeships
  • Learning programmes

Open the door to the WDF, and you could train your staff and maintain CPD programmes at zero (or nearly zero) cost to you. However, the fund is limited and must be applied for. So, it’s important that you don’t make mistakes in your applications. Having been through the process many, many times, we’re adept at helping care homes access the WDF.

The 2017/18 WDF will be closing on March 30th. After this time, there are a number of changes that will affect care homes that want to apply for WDF funding in the 2018/19 year.

Goodbye QCF, hello RQF

The major change is the replacement of the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) by the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF). This means that:

  • The list of qualifications available to be funded has changed. It’s important that you understand which training and qualifications the WDF will now fund.
  • Only full qualifications will be funded – you won’t be able to claim for individual units, and funding will be dependent upon qualification.
  • You will need to provide a copy of the learner’s qualification certificate to claim WDF funding.
  • The 60-unit limit has been removed. Now, you can claim against the qualification with the highest funding value for any learner in a single year.

The financial impact of the changes for care homes

The key change for many care homes that currently use the WDF to fund their training and CPD will be financial. Because you can now only claim against completed qualifications, you might find that:

  • You need to fund training in your current financial year, and not be compensated until your next financial year. This could impact your bottom line, and cause budgeting to become considerably more difficult.
  • Should an employee leave before completing a qualification being taken, you will not be able to claim for the training and learning to date. This will need to come from your own funding.

The need to fast-track your people to qualified status

Perhaps the most relevant qualification for care workers is the NVQ in Health and Social Care. However, in most cases the time taken to qualify is between 12 and 18 months.

This creates a financial problem. If a new or existing member of staff begins their training in the third quarter of your financial year, you may not be able to claim for the learning costs until two financial years in the future. That’s a long time to be negative on your training budget.

Another roadblock is that staff turnover in care homes is high. This means there is a good possibility that many care homes will have lost the member of staff before the NVQ is completed – resulting in a permanent entry in the debit column of the training budget. This is just one reason why employing effective staff retention strategies is essential in care homes.

To get over the first hurdle, you’ll need the learner to complete their qualification quickly. This will mean you can claim without making a sizeable outlay that remains on your balance sheet across accounting periods.

Fast-tracking a qualification also has a direct impact on staff retention. Care homes that have a strategy for individual and group training are among those with the lowest staff turnover numbers. People who qualify faster are more likely to stay longer.

Get your people NVQ qualified inside 4 months

The Fast Track NVQ Diploma from Strive Care is available to all learners through Levels 2 – 5 in Health and Social Care. Courses at each level are designed to equip learners with the skills and knowledge needed to care for others in a broad range of health or social care settings. And it takes only three to four months to qualify at Levels 2 and 3, and four to six months to qualify at Levels 4 and 5 – meaning you can make that WDF claim in a timely manner. Other benefits include:

  • Improvement and maintenance of your CQC rating
  • Training faster and more efficiently
  • Minimising disruption on your care home and your staff
  • Lower staff attrition
  • Paying less to qualify your staff
  • Reducing administration

Just because the WDF is changing, it doesn’t mean you have to rethink your entire training strategy. You just need to fast-track it.

Contact StriveCare today, and let us show you how.

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