Books reviewed by James Woodward

Training Manual for Working with Older People
in Residential and Day Care Settings

Training Manual for Working with Older People in Residential and Day Care SettingsJacki Pritchard
(Jessica Kingsley Publishers) 2003, 400pp, pbk, £39.95,
ISBN 1-84310-123-8

For the past eight years the substantial part of my job here in the Foundation of Lady Katherine Leveson has been to oversee the organisation and delivery of care and housing to older people.    The majority of these older people are in need of Residential Care.  It is a complex business shaped by many factors beyond an individual home’s control.  Those working in the area of the care of older people have undergone a revolution in statutory regulation and continue to feel some of the financial pressures that surround provision and funding.  Many social services departments now regard residential care with some ambivalence and there is certainly a trend away from community or institutional care towards individualised support in the home.  Amidst all these challenges and pressures a care home is only as good as the staff who work within it.  It is the quality and sensitivity of such staff that make such a qualitative difference to the kind of support and understanding that older people in care are offered.  The staff and their engagement on a daily basis with frail older people forms a substantial part of the culture of a care home – its feel, its spoken and unspoken rules, its patience, compassion and sensitivity.

It follows therefore that the best way a manager can support staff in enabling them to develop their work is through comprehensive, intelligent and effective training. Jacki Pritchard is a qualified social worker, and her experience as a practitioner is self-evident in this excellent training manual.  Pritchard has designed the manual to promote good practice in working amongst older people and it is aimed at helping care workers meet the new requirements for training in social care work.  Printed in large format there is a clear process articulated in each of the chapters which include a wide range of materials, such as clear discussion of each subject; case examples; role play; suggested reading; useful organisations and web sites; videos; exercises; quiz sheets; handouts; and case studies.

Pritchard’s experience of training has helped her organise all of this material with skill and an eye to usability.  In particular she acknowledges that the training of care workers is likely to take place in a variety of ways at different times – on the job, supervision sessions, staff meetings, induction week and formal courses.  All the material gives clear instructions about how to tackle a subject and extra guidance is given for the trainer.  The manual has a particularly good index and a comprehensive set of contact details for useful organisations.  The main contents of the book cover the principles of care; the role of the care worker; needs of older people; care planning; risk assessment; effective communications; recording and supervision; dealing with challenging behaviour; death, dying and bereavement; and abuse.

From my own direct experience this is a good and effective book, and I commend it to all those wishing to develop training with care workers.  There is, alas, one small but significant omission.  I think some chapter outlining some of the structural, cultural, social and economic problems facing care would help some care workers to put some of their work into a broader context.

James Woodward