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Knowledge Base » Care » Continuous Learning and Development Beyond the Care Certificate

Continuous Learning and Development Beyond the Care Certificate

The Care Certificate was introduced in April 2015, in response to the Cavendish Review. Published in 2013, the Cavendish Review found training and development in the health and social care sector was not adequate. The Care Certificate was established as a collaborative effort between Health Education England, Skills for Care and Skills for Health.

The certificate is made up of 15 standards that outline the information, knowledge and skills that health and social care workers need in order to provide quality care.

Some workers in the health and social care sector recognise that they can always improve and learn from their experiences. These people are likely to take part in continuous learning far beyond the completion of the Care Certificate. This type of mindset can help care providers take ownership of their practice and strive for excellence.

The Value of the Care Certificate

The aim of the Care Certificate is to provide all of the necessary knowledge and skills that care workers need in order to fulfil their duties in a safe and compassionate way. The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) minimum expectations are that all health and social care providers support their staff appropriately. This includes:

  • Induction
  • Training
  • Ongoing Support

By using the Care Certificate as a baseline for their induction programmes, care settings can show the CQC that they are making efforts to meet these expectations and comply with standards.

The Care Certificate is based on 15 standards. All candidates must complete the 15 standards in full before they can achieve their Care Certificate.

The 15 standards in the Care Certificate are as follows:

  • Understand your role
  • Your personal development
  • Duty of care
  • Equality and diversity
  • Work in a person-centred way
  • Communication
  • Privacy and dignity
  • Fluids and nutrition
  • Awareness of mental health, dementia and learning disability
  • Safeguarding adults
  • Safeguarding children
  • Basic life support
  • Health and safety
  • Handling information
  • Infection prevention and control

To gain the Care Certificate, you will have to complete all 15 standards which sets out the fundamental knowledge health and social care workers require to be compassionate and compliant carers. Additionally, employers should assess their workers’ practical skills against the standards set out in the Care Certificate.

Healthcare Training

Beyond the Basics: The Need for Continuous Learning

Although the Care Certificate lays the groundwork for the required skills and knowledge expected of care workers, it is best viewed as a basis or minimum standard for care. A commitment to continuous learning, beyond the basics of the Care Certificate, is beneficial to both employees, employers and patients.

Continuous learning relates to a person’s commitment to learning and education on an ongoing basis. It is an umbrella term which encompasses many different types of learning.

If you think of the Care Certificate as a building block to a successful career in care, continuous learning is all of the other blocks that you will stack on top over time, to build a career that is bigger, better and stronger.

The Care Certificate is a valuable tool for care workers, but for continuous learners it is not viewed as an end to their learning journey.

Continuing to learn, train and improve has many benefits, including:

  • Improved career prospects
  • Better performance at work
  • Improved standards of care for patients
  • Better chances at promotion
  • Encourages a growth mindset
  • Fosters a culture of continuous improvement

A culture of continuous learning within the workplace can also help senior management to:

  • Improve staff retention
  • Promote a more positive atmosphere among workers
  • Identify weaker or less committed staff, or those who are struggling
  • Improve the reputation of the setting
  • Ensure compliance and transparency

A culture of continuous learning can also boost patient engagement and participation in care decisions. It can also improve standards of accountability and encourage personal responsibility.  

By prioritising continuous learning and professional development, healthcare workers can take ownership of their learning, strive to improve standards and commit to delivering high-quality care that meets the needs of patients and families.

Types of Continuous Learning

For health and social care workers, there are many different learning activities available to further their career options or improve their knowledge, such as:

  • On the job learning
  • Short- or long-term courses
  • Accredited courses / recognised qualifications
  • Seminars and workshops
  • Seminars and workshops
  • Volunteering
  • e-learning
  • Self-paced learning

Workplaces that encourage and support continuous learning will take steps to help their employees achieve their learning and education goals. This might be by providing resources, setting time aside for one-on-one sessions, pairing newer recruits up with a mentor or sending their staff out on external courses.

Carers attending a workshop

Developing a Personal Learning Plan

In the second standard of the Care Certificate, you will explore your personal development including what personal development means and why it is important in the care sector. Whilst studying this part of the Care Certificate, you will think about how to develop your core skills through learning and development. This will include exploring the function of:

  • Supervision
  • Appraisals
  • Learning objectives
  • Giving and receiving feedback

As you explore this section of the Care Certificate, you will start to think about how you learn and set some objectives for the future. Once you have completed all of the units of the Care Certificate, you can start to build on what you learned as you explore the fundamentals of the personal development standard. This will form the backbone of your continuous learning plan.

Some of the ways continuous learning might benefit you, especially if you work in health and social care are:

  • Sense of achievement
  • Increased confidence
  • It can help you keep up with industry-related changes and developments
  • It may help you to perform better at work
  • It gives the opportunity to upskill and learn new things
  • Gaining accreditations, qualifications and certificates
  • Personal development
  • Giving and receiving feedback

Many people working in the social care sector, particularly in lower grade roles, are female, have caring responsibilities or are migrant workers. It is also a notoriously poorly paid industry. For these groups, stopping work to concentrate on education is not an option as it would put a significant financial strain on them and their families. Continuous learning can benefit lower socio-economic groups. It allows you to not have to make the difficult choice between furthering your education or furthering your career – you can combine the two! This means that whilst you learn new skills and better your standards, you don’t need to take a break from work and can earn as well as learn.

You will know the way you learn better than anyone. Some people are visual learners and some need a structured approach and routine. Some workers may need regular feedback from others, whilst some people prefer to learn in a classroom setting or from a book. Once you have identified how you learn best, you can start to think about a personalised learning plan.

Your personalised learning plan should reflect:

  • What you want to learn or key areas you wish to improve
  • The way in which you want to learn
  • How much time you can dedicate to learning right now
  • What resources you will need
  • How to access learning resources
  • How you are going to organise your time

Continuous learning does not have to be done on a rigid framework. Continuous learners make a long-term commitment to educating and improving themselves – your learning needs to be consistent, not constant. Continuous learning can be done at your own pace and worked around your other commitments.

Resources for Ongoing Education

You can find resources to support your commitment to ongoing education in various places. If you are not in a position to pay for educational resources, many are available for free:

  • Online resources (websites, courses etc.)
  • Healthcare journals or magazines
  • Reputable newspapers / media outlets (not tabloids)
  • Professional bodies

You should prioritise accredited, reputable educational establishments to give you a better chance of receiving top quality education and a recognised qualification. You can also check your local college as many may offer flexible learning opportunities in care.

You may also benefit from one of our CPD-accredited courses in care which you can browse here.

Staying Compliant and Current

The Covid-19 pandemic showed everyone that the unexpected can happen and we need to be able to prepare and adapt at short notice. Continuous learning can help us to stay up to date with industry changes, new challenges and current affairs that may affect the care sector. This can help us to stay compliant with any new guidelines or legislation and prepare for any new developments such as new drug/treatment options or infectious viral outbreaks.

As science evolves, changes in the way we treat conditions like dementia are happening. A commitment to continuous learning can help to keep you ahead of the curve. Being a continuous learner can help you to:

  • Become more adaptable
  • Implement changes more quickly and easily
  • Offer consistent support to your team
  • Cause less disruption to patients
  • Learn to take ownership of your strengths and weaknesses
  • Become more accountable for your actions, errors and outcomes

Many continuous learners make use of online resources to support their learning. However, in terms of compliance, it is important to use credible resources and have a fundamental understanding of how to fact-check any resources that you use.

High credibility resources to support continuous learning within health and social care may include:

  • Government websites
  • Established scientific magazines
  • peer reviewed studies
  • Respected newspapers
  • Trusted news media outlets

You should approach stories and statistics that you find on social media, YouTube, tabloid newspapers or sites like Wikipedia with caution. Such platforms do not require people to cite their sources and can act as a breeding ground for misinformation and fake news. In an industry where trust and compliance are key, it is vital that you know how to spot factual evidence versus conjecture or opinion.

Updating knowledge with online learning

Case Studies

Our first case study shows some of the positive impacts continuous learning can have on an individual:

Sadie, age 26, was required by the care home she had started working at to complete her Care Certificate as a foundation for her career. However, she didn’t stop there. After a string of failed jobs in the leisure and tourism sector, Sadie felt she had finally found a place where she could belong when she started learning about what it takes to thrive in health and social care. The care industry seemed to be ever-evolving and it was overwhelming at first. However, Sadie decided, that to keep up, it was necessary to embark on a journey of continuous learning. For her, this meant actively seeking out new knowledge, skills and experiences to enhance her work and improve the care she provided to her clients. She knew the importance of staying up to date with best practices, as well as the potential consequences of non-compliance.

Sadie’s decision to pursue ongoing learning was rooted in her commitment to providing high standards of care. As she puts it:

“I want to be the best version of myself, every day, for every person I care for.”

Sadie believes that staying informed about the latest research, guidelines and best practices is essential if she wants to deliver high-quality care that truly makes a difference.

The benefits of continuous learning for Sadie have been numerous. She’s noticed a significant boost in her confidence, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Her expanded knowledge has also allowed her to take on additional responsibilities and contribute more effectively to her team. Moreover, her dedication to learning has inspired her colleagues, creating a culture of continuous improvement within her workplace.

Her continuous learning has also allowed her to home in on a particular goal; she now aspires to specialise in dementia care and become a mentor for new care workers, sharing her expertise and inspiring others to embrace the value of continuous learning:

“I want to be a role model for others, to show that learning is a lifelong journey and that it’s never too late to start making a difference.”

Sadie’s parting words of encouragement to new recruiting in the care sector are:

“To all new care workers, I would say that ongoing learning might not be a requirement of your workplace but it should be a requirement to yourself and the people you care for. Embrace education as an opportunity to grow and you’ll be amazed at the positive impact it can have on your career and the lives of those you care for.”

Looking ahead, Sadie plans to continue her professional development by attending conferences, workshops and online courses. Next week, Sadie has been selected to attend an annual Care seminar with her boss; by this time next year, she is planning on being a speaker at it!

Our second case study highlights the negative impacts of a lack of continuous learning and development in the care sector:

At Chestnut Care Home, the Care Certificate was seen as the pinnacle of staff training, and once staff members had completed it, they were considered ‘trained’ and no further learning was expected or encouraged. Unfortunately, this approach led to a stagnant culture where staff were not motivated to develop their skills or knowledge beyond the initial certification. As a result, the care home struggled with high staff turnover rates, as employees became frustrated with the lack of opportunities for growth and development. Additionally, the care home’s reputation suffered, as the lack of continuous learning and professional development was reflected in the quality of care provided to residents, the constantly changing faces and the negative atmosphere.

The care home’s outdated approach to staff training and development made it difficult to integrate new technologies and innovations into their practice. Staff struggled to adopt new software that was installed, leading to a serious data breach and several medication errors. The staff struggled to keep up with the rapidly changing landscape of healthcare because they were not encouraged to make improvements or think outside the box. This not only hindered the care home’s ability to provide the best possible care to residents but also made it harder to attract and retain top talent in the industry. In short, Chestnut Care Home’s failure to prioritise continuous learning and professional development led to a range of negative consequences, underpinned by a general attitude that once the bare minimum was done, that was enough.


The Care Certificate sets out the fundamental requirements for new care workers. However, your learning objectives in health and social care should extend well beyond your initial induction.

Continuous learning fosters a culture of accountability, transparency and continuous improvement, which is essential for delivering high-quality care that not only meets the needs of patients and families, but exceeds them.

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About the author

Vicky Miller

Vicky Miller

Vicky has a BA Hons Degree in Professional Writing. She has spent several years creating B2B content and writing informative articles and online guides for clients within the fields of sustainability, corporate social responsibility, recruitment, education and training. Outside of work she enjoys yoga, world cinema and listening to fiction podcasts.

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