9 July 2020

Our MD, Vikki Sylvester, has been named ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’

We’re so proud to announce that Victoria Sylvester, our Managing Director, has won the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ award in the Sentinel Business Awards!

Vikki leads Acacia Training and all the other businesses in our growing group, with integrity, compassion, ambition and vision. She cares passionately about training, equality, wellbeing and care standards. She believes in empowering and trusting her team and creating opportunities for her employees to grow, while encouraging us all to play our part in the community.

Here’s the story of how Vikki has gone from her career as a registered nurse to being on the board of our multinational owners – MBH Group. She employs more than 90 people across Acacia Training, International School of Beauty Therapy and others.

We’re feeling very proud – well done Vikki!

Here’s Victoria’s story, in her own words…

“Twenty years ago, I was a nurse working on the ward in North Staffs Hospital. Last year I became the first woman on the board of a multinational corporation. On my journey between these two moments in my life I’ve launched, led and grown a successful company, which now employs 90 people, while raising my four children.

I set up Acacia Training in 2000 with my mum because we wanted to provide courses that genuinely met employer needs in the care sector. We had experienced first-hand the struggle to recruit and retain quality care staff, so we knew there was a gap in the market. This personal experience has consistently given me a competitive advantage as I understand and have a passion for the sector. I’m also the Director of two care homes so I’m aware of the challenges and demands being faced on the ground.

Passion for wellbeing

Acacia Training celebrate award winI took over the helm as Managing Director in 2012. As the company has grown, we’ve never lost that family atmosphere. I’m passionate about creating a happy, healthy workforce where everyone feels part of the success of the company and achieving our Stoke-on-Trent Healthworks Silver accreditation was a huge positive for us. We lead by example and have a strong reputation for encouraging wellbeing in the workplace, providing Mental Health First Aid training to over 600 people so far and lots of businesses.

In 2019 I have had expert opinion pieces published in HR News, People Management, Women and Home, HR Review, FE News, Caring Times, RoSPA Journal, Care Home Management, Social Work News and more.

We have also hosted a visit from then Home Secretary Amber Rudd as well as travelled to Parliament to talk about our work in disability confidence and share good practice.

Focusing on Impact

The health and social sector will need another half a million jobs, and people to fulfil them, by 2030. We have national Skills for Care accreditation for the quality of our training. Our high standards ensure that people of all stages in their career are gaining the skills they need to thrive. Three quarters (73%) of our learners found work, got a better job or improved their prospects after training with us.

Acacia Training operates nationally but I particularly want to support people locally to find jobs and progress in their careers. We work with jobcentres to help unemployed people get the qualifications they need for jobs in nursing, childcare and social care. One of those we’ve supported is Paula Shepherd, 52, a former hotel manager. Paula was so inspired by our training that she launched her own company providing a home care service in the Moorlands.

I’m proud that Acacia Training was one of the first in the UK to gain ‘disability confident leader’ status. This shows our commitment to helping disabled people thrive in the workplace.

We signed the Armed Forces Covenant to show our support for former armed forces personnel (our two mental health trainers are both ex forces) and sponsored a defib machine at a centre for ex forces personnel.

My advice: Be brave and don’t compare yourself to anyone else.

“My personal strategy is to think positively, constantly move forward and refuse to let things stand in my way. I hope my experience proves to other women that there are no limits to what you can achieve. Learn to be brave, step out of your comfort zone, focus on what impact you can have on people and don’t compare yourself to anyone else just be proud and accepting of who you are.”

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7 February 2020

Level 5 Health and Social Care Apprenticeship leads to managerial promotion

35-year-old Katie Wilson is showing that Apprenticeships are not just for school-leavers, after completing a Level 5 Health and Social Care Apprenticeship secured her a managerial promotion.

Katie, aged 35, from Bristol was recently promoted to care home manager at Bristol-based Hyde Lodge, a Care Quality Commission “Outstanding” rated residential care home for vulnerable young adults run by the Aurora Group. She completed a level 5 apprenticeship in leadership and management of a health and social care setting, with Acacia Training.

Katie has worked full-time in the care sector since 2010, starting at Aurora Group as a support worker before working her way up to be a shift manager. She started her Apprenticeship in summer 2019 and started her new managerial role in December.

She explains: “Doing the Apprenticeship shows that you can combine a full-time role with work-based training to progress your career. It has also been a great benefit to my employers.

The course teaches everything you need to know to manage a care home to the highest standards, and the content is constantly renewed. This means that as a care setting we benefit from reviewing our own procedures in line with best practice as part of my work on the course, and it has also helped us to carry out research with the staff to inform our rota changes.

The qualification covers things like risk assessments, health and safety, privacy, dignity, caring for people with autism – all the things that are important to us as an outstanding care provider and important to the Care Quality Commission – the regulatory body responsible for health and social care standards in care settings.”

Talking of her experience with Acacia Training, she said: “I had studied with another provider before and we have found Acacia much more responsive. My assessor, Emma, communicates with me regularly by phone, text, email and even video calls, which really helps. I get feedback on assignments and work that I have submitted straight away – this has enabled me to make the fast progress that I needed to start my new role as a manager.”

Kim Welsh Executive Principal at Aurora Group, comments: “Katie is a great example to show how we encourage our staff to progress their careers in the care sector. She has worked her way up from support worker, to shift manager and team leader, and now is on her way to becoming a Registered Care Home Manager. We are very proud of her and her team at Hyde Lodge.

Through the Apprenticeships with Acacia Training, we provide excellent career progression to our valued team of carers, while training to ensure the highest care standards.”

Thanks to Katie and the Aurora Group for sharing your story! Find out more about our Level 5 Diploma In Leadership For Health & Social Care & Children and Young People Services and funding for your Acacia Training course. Or, contact us for a consultation on your Health and Social Care training needs.

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1 August 2019

Social care workers could sign register following APPG investigation

Social care workers could be required to sign a national register following an investigation which has estimated 500,000 people are untrained.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Care (APPG) has dubbed the situation “a national emergency” and will make recommendations in September following an inquiry.

The move could see social care workers forced to achieve set standards before being able to work. Their skills would be monitored with a ‘digital passport’, available to care providers when staff move jobs.

Labour MP and joint chair of the APPG Louise Haigh said: “Over the course of our investigation, we’ve discovered that the social care sector is dangerously under-regulated with workers who are untrained, underpaid, and overworked.

“There is no accredited qualification for social care workers and, instead, training is largely handled by individual care providers. We’ve collected evidence suggesting that as many as 500,000 carers have no training and many more are paid under £9 an hour.”

She added: “This system encourages bad employers and creates a huge amount of risk for staff and the people who are being cared for. It is inevitable we will have scandal after scandal while we are underfunding the system and undervaluing its workforce. This is a national emergency.”

Care Certificate for social care workers is ‘open to abuse’

In evidence to the APPG, MPs were told that the Care Certificate, basic training for social care workers, is open to abuse.

In a statement on its website, Skills for Care said: “We’ve been made aware of a number of training providers (including e-learning providers) making claims about their products in relation to the Care Certificate.

“We’d like to reassure you that such claims are false and have issued a full statement that we advise everyone reads before putting their staff through the Care Certificate.”

No provider has been ‘licenced’ to award the Care Certificate because such a licence does not exist and it is not an accredited qualification.

Acacia Training offers a range of full time and short courses in health and social care and specialises in training in the sector.

Victoria Sylvester, director at Acacia Training and registered nurse, said: “The care sector has a highly committed workforce, but more investment in skills is needed for the future, as well as an increased focus on recruiting more people into the sector to meet the needs of a growing ageing population.”

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10 July 2019

Acacia Training and MHFA England seek change with two-day mental health first aid course

Did you know one in four people experience a diagnosable mental health condition each year? Take a second to think about that. That’s about a quarter of our population who need the right support – and yet, about 70% of people with a mental illness receive no treatment at all*.

Acacia Training and Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) want to change that. Most workplaces have someone with first aid training, but what about mental health first aid? Poor mental health costs us productivity, relationships, self-esteem – and lives. In 2017 there were 5,487 suicides in Great Britain, which means more than 15 people per day took their life. That’s just the people who succeeded.

Together with MHFA England, we want to drive those statistics down, because behind each one is a life and friends and family. We offer MHFA England approved training for your staff, to educate people that they can speak freely about mental health and get help when they need it the most.

Our two-day MHFA course:

  • Encourages people to challenge the language we use around mental health
  • Helps people to understand what good mental health looks like
  • Explores our frame of reference and the stigma attached to mental health, from both personal and societal perspectives
  • Explores the factors that can have an impact on your mental health
  • Looks at how you can support yourself and others with self-care, giving people skills to influence their own mental health and help prevent mental ill health
  • Teaches how to intervene (including in a crisis), reassure and signpost to further support
  • Teaches about diagnosable mental health conditions, what unwell looks like and how to spot these signs in yourself or others
  • Talks about what to do if you think someone is unwell and the steps to take for early intervention
  • Talks about recovery from mental illness and looking forward

Do Mental Health First Aid England training courses make a difference?

Data from MHFA England’s recently published first impact report showed people rated their confidence in supporting others with a mental health issue as 4.80 out of 10 before the training; after the training this increased to 8.27. In scoring their knowledge and understanding before the course, the average was 4.54 out of 10; this increased to 8.45 after the training. Overall, 98.5% of people rated the course as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. MHFA England has now trained over 400,000 people this year so far!

Most adults spend at least a third of their time at work and in the UK and mental ill health is responsible for 72 million working days lost and costs employers £34.9 billion each year*. For more information about our courses click here.

*Information taken from MHFA England’s first impact report 2018-2019.

Did you know we also offer Youth Mental Health First Aid courses?

To become a youth mental health first aider you must complete a two-day YMHFA course. This course includes a mix of presentations, discussions and group work activities. When you have completed the course, you will receive a certificate to confirm that you are a trained Youth Mental Health First Aider.

By taking the course you will gain:

  • An in depth understanding of young people’s mental health and factors that affect wellbeing
  • Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues
  • Confidence to reassure and support a young person in distress
  • Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening
  • Knowledge to help a young person recover their health by guiding them to further support – whether that’s through self-help sites, their place of learning, the NHS, or a mix – engaging with parents, carers and external agencies where appropriate
  • Ability to support a young person with a long-term mental health issue or disability to thrive
  • Tools to look after your own mental wellbeing

For more information on Youth Mental Health First Aid courses click here.

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31 October 2017

6 Care Home Entertainment Ideas To Transform Your Care Home

Why Is Care Home Entertainment Important?

Care home entertainment is so important nowadays as it is imperative to provide the highest quality care possible to residents. By offering a wide range of care home activities for residents to take part in it means that their time in the care home will be maximized and made much more enjoyable for them.

6 Care Home Entertainment Types

Depending on time of year and circumstances, there is a range of entertainment that you can offer to yours residents in your care home. These are highlighted below:


#1 Arts and crafts

It is important to offer activities that are mentally stimulating, fun as well as a challenge. Additionally, arts and crafts can also help to aid recovery for patients. This is why arts and crafts is a great choice as care home entertainment.

Where to find Arts and Crafts Care Home Entertainment:

Alive

Creative Buddy

Creative Mojo


#2 Musician

Where to find Musicians as Care Home Entertainment:


#3 Pianist

Where to find Pianists as Care Home Entertainment:


#4 Bingo

Where to find Bingo for Care Home Entertainment:


#5 Animal Petting

Where to find Animal Petting Care Home Entertainment:


#6 Exercise

Where to find Exercise as Care Home Entertainment:

Care Home Entertainment Costs

Care home entertainment costs can vary from anywhere between voluntary to several hundred pounds depending on the entertainment required.

If your budget is tight to offer care home entertainment then it is recommended to have a blend of activities ranging from free activities that can be run by your staff at the care home, to the occasional activities from the entertainment categories listed above.

 

 

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17 October 2017

Four Types Of Care Home Software That Will Make Your Life Easier

With the ever changing environment in the care industry, care home software has become more important than ever in making sure that your Care Home can reach new heights. This is because certain care home software can make ongoing tasks that have been time consuming and difficult in the past become automated and streamlined.

This results in you being able to dedicate your resources to what matters most, offering the best service possible.

Which care home software is right for you?

Care Home Staffing – Ablyss

First up we have Ablyss CMS, which is a software package that looks after your care home management and staffing needs. Some of the features of this care home software are that it can help with the managing of key elements of the day to day running of a care home from care plans, risk assessments and reviews.

Resident App –  Care App

Next up, is The Care App which is specifically designed to give carers more time to spend with service users. Their app revolves round daily records as these can be written with with just a few taps on the device and means the entire shift can be spent delivering care. With less paperwork to complete, care staff are under less pressure and service users receive a better quality of care.

Online Staff Training – Acacia Training

It is possible to save time in ensuring your staff are fully trained with Acacia Training. Their online courses give you access to over 28 modules within Health & Social Care which can help save valuable time whilst ensuring your staff are fully trained.

Care Reporting – Nourish

Nourish enables carers to plan, record, report and co-ordinate care, all focused on the person. At a time of growing demand for care, Nourish is using technology and design to empower carers to do what they do best: help people they care for enjoy the best quality of life possible.

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8 May 2017

5 Times When Staff Training Is Required

Staff training can often be something that is neglected by organisations on a day to day basis. Often it isn’t intentional, it is just that the day to day demands are high priority and training can get overlooked to meet them. However, with over 70% of staff lacking job satisfaction it is important now more so than ever to ensure staff are trained as this will not only have company benefits but also employee retention benefits. No organisation wants to be burdened by the costs of recruiting new employees.

 

Before we highlight the top 5 reasons your staff require training, we have highlighted the main benefits to training your staff:

 

Benefit #1 – Cost Saving

 

Research has found that training can cut costs significantly due to staff being more motivated to stay with the company as a sign of loyalty and in turn this means staff are less likely to leave.

 

Benefit #2 – Staff Performance

 

Once staff are trained, they will acquire a whole new skill set which will be of benefit to your organisation and mean jobs are being completed to a better standard and more efficiently.

 

Benefit #3 – Staff Retention

 

Staff who have completed staff training are more motivated to do well in their jobs and in turn stay in their position.

 

Benefit #4 – Staff Morale

 

Having high levels of staff morale is important in the workplace as it not only means people enjoy their jobs but also it provides a positive atmosphere for others to work in.

When is Staff Training Required?

 

1. To Acquire New Skills

You may have new staff who are required to learn new skills for their role or there may be new procedures for staff to follow which requires them to be trained on new skills.

 

2. Address a Skills Gap

There can be various reasons that there is a skills gap within your organisation.

The main two reasons for a skills gap are the following:

  • Lack of basic skills – when colleagues lack the basic knowledge of how to complete their job.
  • Lack of application – when colleagues are unsure how to apply the knowledge they have and apply this to their role.
    Investing in training is a great way to close these skills gaps.

 

3. Improve Business Performance

With the care industry being so competitive it is important to ensure staff are continually performing at their best to enable your venue to be the best it can be. Fully trained staff will enable your home to perform to it’s best.

 

4. Provide Specialized Support

With the demands of the care industry it is important that staff are able to provide a range of specialized skills in their roles.

 

5. Meet Compliance Regulations

With new regulations coming into place regularly it is important to be flexible to this and ensure staff are fully trained to the latest regulations to be compliant.

If you believe staff at your organisation require training then Acacia Training have a range of courses to suit your needs.

 

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20 April 2017

4 Key Skills Required For A Career In Care

Have you ever considered whether a career in care is suitable for you? If you are interested in choosing this career then there are several key skills that you should have to stand you in good stead for your career which we have highlighted below:

4 key skills required for a career in care

1.Patience

If you are looking for a career in care then an essential quality is to be patient as every day can provide new challenges for you and an individuals needs are of the upmost importance when caring for others in potential situations where the needs are complex.

2.Flexibility

When working in a career in care the shift pattern can vary and it isn’t a standard 9-5 environment. Shifts can vary as care is for 24 hour periods and you will be required to meet the demands of individuals.

3.Humour

Being able to be light hearted in a career in care is desired as it can provide a strong basis when building rapport as a caregiver. Rapport is important as people like to feel familiar and have a strong relationship with their caregiver.

4. Compassion

Having compassion in a range of scenarios will help to stand your career in care in good stead as a care giver. In your daily roles you will experience a range of challenges and having a depth of understanding and compassion will help with overcoming these challenges and being passionate about the quality of care you give is essential.

If you believe a career in care is for you or you wish to upskill your skills currently then we may have a course suitable for you. Click here to find out more about our courses.

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31 March 2017

The Apprenticeship Levy – The Ultimate Guide

With the Apprenticeship Levy changes in full effect, we understand that as an employer the changes can seem confusing. Therefore we have created the following guide to provide you with the ultimate guide with what the Apprenticeship Levy changes mean for you.

In this comprehensive guide we cover what the new apprenticeship levy is, how it works, why it was introduced and specifically what the apprenticeship levy means for you and your business.

The Apprenticeship Levy explained

What is the Apprenticeship Levy?

In April 2017 the government will implement a new Apprenticeship Levy on large employers, to fund new apprenticeships. UK based employers with a pay bill over £3 million are required to invest in Apprenticeships.

How does the Apprenticeship Levy it work?

Employers will pay a levy which is expected to be 0.5 per cent of your pay bill. This will be paid into a central fund where you’ll access vouchers to fund the training of your own apprentices. You’ll receive an allowance of £15,000 to offset against your levy payment.

Why was the Apprenticeship Levy introduced?

Why Apprenticeships matter?

Apprenticeships are beneficial to employers for many reasons such as:

  • Increasing employee satisfaction
  • Increasing staff loyalty
  • Reducing recruitment costs
  • Better serving your customers
  • Being a leader in the cultivating the next generation of workers.

What does the Apprenticeship Levy mean for you?

I have… less than 50 employees and a salary bill of under £3 million

If you have less than 50 employees and a salary bill of under £3 million then you will receive fully funded free training. To add to this, funding is also available to train up existing staff or recruit apprentices. There is also a £1,000 cash incentive for recruiting an apprentice aged between 16-18.

I have…over 50 employees and a salary bill of under £3 million

If you have over 50 employees and a salary bill of under £3 million then you will be expected to contribute 5% of total training costs (monthly installments). There is also funding available to train up existing staff or recruit apprentices. Additionally, there is a £1,000 cash incentive for recruiting an apprentice aged between 16-18.

I have…a salary bill of over £3 million

If you have a salary bill of over £3 million you will be expected to contribute 0.5% of your annual salary bill into the Apprenticeship Levy. This will allow you to train existing staff or recruit apprentices using funds that will be located in your digital account. After 18 months these funds will expire. You will get out more than you put into the apprenticeship levy as for every £1 that you put into your digital account you get £1.10 to spend.

Calculate Your Spend With An Apprenticeship Levy Calculator

If you would like to estimate you levy spend then you can find out via the governments Apprenticeship Levy Calculator.

Acacia Training’s Apprenticeship Levy Courses

Here at Acacia Training we have a range of courses that you can use your apprenticeship levy funding to complete. These range from our courses in Health & Social Care, Childcare or Dental Nursing.

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