About Unit 3
AO1: Describe how to empower service users when providing practical care
Learners focus on how to empower service users when providing practical care. Learners should find that this involves taking the principles studied in Unit 1 and applying them to real situations. In the work for this section, learners should be encouraged to consider service users and their needs in a holistic way and to avoid looking at only isolated aspects of a service user.
Learners should be encouraged to consider some of the choices that service users might make which the learners themselves might find baffling. In this way it can be shown how respecting those choices empowers the service users. By exposure to a wide variety of simulated or real situations, the experience of learners could be broadened. Listening to the experiences of service users (or their advocates) may help learners appreciate the rationale behind some choices which may at first seem surprising to them.
Ways of respecting a service user's dignity are likely to be understood, at least superficially, by most learners. They may need some assistance in expanding this concept beyond the obvious ideas, such as respecting physical privacy when using the bathroom. The idea that requiring assistance is in itself an affront to some people's dignity is one that some learners find difficult.
Once again, the notion of empowerment is crucial to this assessment objective.
Empowerment by participation in decision making can also easily be trivialised if care is not taken. Although most learners will grasp the idea that choosing what you eat is an example of this, they will not necessarily appreciate other, much more subtle, decisions which service users might wish to make. These could include consultation concerning the general running of care settings, such as bedtimes in a residential home or which channel is on the television, even though it may not always be possible, for a variety of reasons, to allow certain choices.
The idea of maintaining service users' rights might usefully be considered as a pro-active task rather than simply reacting to bad practice.
The notion of care worker as advocate of service users at all times is an extremely positive role model which may not be frequently suggested by learners.
All four of these methods of empowering service users need to be placed in the context of application of the care values. Many learners will already be familiar with the three care values for those working in health and social care settings: fostering service users' rights; fostering equality and diversity; maintaining confidentiality. Learners should be made aware of the early years care values which vary significantly from those in health and social care.
The early years care values are: upholding the welfare of the child; keeping children safe; working in partnership with parents and families; encouraging children's learning and development; valuing diversity; providing equal opportunities; fostering anti-discrimination; maintaining confidentiality; working with other professionals; being reflective practitioners.
The thrust of this work will be applying the theory to realistic scenarios. The value of work experience or visiting care professionals cannot be overemphasized, but learners are likely to benefit most from extensive opportunities to role play practical scenarios in order for them to learn how to apply the care values in different situations. Relating this work back to the Unit 1 content is very helpful.
AO2: Review the skills and qualities that contribute to effective practical caring
Following on from understanding how to empower service users, learners will need to review in some detail the skills and qualities required to care effectively. When considering interpersonal, communication, scientific and practical skills that contribute to practical caring, a deeper level of understanding is likely to be achieved through simulated activities which allow learners to practise skills.
Additionally, experience in care settings, whether during work experience or simply by observation, is likely to prove highly valuable to learners.
When considering interpersonal skills, learners should be encouraged to think of cultural and age-related effects and stereotypes which may negatively affect caring relationships.
Communication should be considered in its wider meaning and not confined to verbal communication.
Discussion of practical and scientific skills may be best considered in the context of specific job roles and informed by visiting speakers, observations, and so on. Learners might consider how skills required may need to develop and change during a care worker's employment, depending on the turnover of service users being cared for, as well as evolving job responsibilities.
When attempting to understand the qualities required for practical caring, many examples may be found (e.g. in television soap operas) to illustrate relevant aspects. Linking patience to a conversation with a service user with severe short-term memory loss will help to make situations real.
Understanding, cheerfulness and sense of humour are qualities that learners are likely to grasp easily. It is expected that the quality of respect should not pose many problems as this has been covered significantly in Unit 1. There is often some confusion between sympathy and empathy, and care must be taken to ensure that the latter is understood.
Relating these qualities to the skills in realistic situations is necessary if the learners are to be enabled to actually perform some of the skills in later assessment objectives. The application of these skills and qualities needs to be linked to practical, intellectual, emotional and social needs of service users, once again stressing the holistic nature of effective caring.
Practical role-play activities using scenarios can be a successful method of helping learners to understand the assessment objective. If some learners perform a scene while others observe, the observers can identify which qualities and skills have been used, and how skills can be enhanced by certain qualities.
AO3: Provide support for service users when choosing clothing, dressing and when putting on outer garments
Although the focus here is for learners to demonstrate a practical skill by providing support to a service user when choosing clothing, dressing and putting on outer garments, it is important that some work is carried out first on the underlying principles.
Many specialist mobility centres will have dressing aids in their stock. Physiotherapy departments may also be able to offer assistance in this area. Learners should be encouraged to talk to service users in order to appreciate the importance of this aspect of care.
Carrying out the practical task of assisting service user in choosing and putting on an item of outer clothing will need some careful planning if it is not to be rather superficial. It would be ideal if this task could be undertaken in a real care setting with a service user who requires significant assistance. A very young child at home might be a relatively easy choice of someone requiring considerable assistance without the potential problems associated with some settings.
The task should be observed by an independent person who can usefully comment on the performance. This might be the service user themselves, a care worker or the assessor.
AO4: Investigate and provide support for service users to maintain and improve mobility
A visit to a mobility centre should enable learners to investigate the range of mobility aids available to service users. The demonstration of how to use two mobility aids correctly must be observed, either directly or indirectly (e.g. using video). Research into the sources of aids to support mobility from statutory, voluntary and private sources extends readily from this initial contact. Learners must be aware of the benefits of maintaining mobility for service users.
It may be possible for learners to assist a real service user to use a wheelchair. However, insurance and other legal issues make it more likely that this will be done as a simulation in most cases. Extension of this activity into quite an extended journey may give learners some insight into the effect that being in a wheelchair can have on service users, including discriminatory attitudes and lack of respect from members of the public.
However this practical task is carried out, it is essential that an appropriate level of supervision and support is maintained at all times, especially if the service users are real and the activity is not a simulation.
AO5: Assist service users to choose meals and serve simple meals to service users
Although the primary focus here is practical, a sound understanding of underlying principles is essential. As with AO4, performance of the practical tasks on several occasions is likely to provide learners with greater insight into the process than only a single attempt.
The initial task in giving assistance with meal choices is fairly straightforward. They may read from a menu, give advice or suggest a choice and write down the service user's decisions.
Working with a real service user would be ideal, but for many learners a simulated exercise may be necessary. Serving the food should begin with the preparation of the table by laying it correctly including the placing of cutlery, the presence of condiments and perhaps flowers.
This may be outside the experience of some learners. The meal should be presented attractively with food of appropriate textures for the service user. Serving the meal should follow the usual convention of offering food from the left and removing used items from the right of the service user. Learners should have considered potential problems which might occur, and how they might deal with them (e.g. action that should be taken in a case of choking).
AO6: Evaluate the success of the practical care provided
Learners need to evaluate the success of the practical care they have provided in AO3, AO4 and AO5. The better the feedback they have received from service users, care workers and tutors during those activities, the better prepared they will be to achieve this final strand. The depth of the analysis given will be the key to grading decisions. Learners should be encouraged to link theory to practice very closely.
When discussing the skills and qualities they have demonstrated in their activities, they should make frequent reference back to those described in AO2 and relate these in turn to the relevant aims outlined in AO1. Each of the evaluations should closely compare the actual outcomes with the objectives chosen for each task. Learners will often be aware of performing the tasks relatively slowly compared to an experienced care worker, for example.
Learners should summarise areas of their performance which could be improved and may include a plan for improving their performance in the future.