Accreditation Standards - Advantage Accreditation

What are our accreditation standards?

Advantage is an independent accreditation body. This means that our Awards and the courses of our centres are accredited against national frameworks and standards. Here is a brief overview of what we map all courses, lesson plans, syllabi, assessment materials and other resources against to robustly test quality:

Legislation and Regulation

Most training in the health and social care sector is linked in some way to government legislation or regulation. The starting point for the review of any Award or course is ensuring that the relevant legislation and regulations are discussed, as well as any relevant regulatory bodies. It is important that the impact of the legislation and regulation on individual job roles is highlighted in the course materials so that learners are clear as to how it links to them personally.

Often, the list of any legislation and regulations relevant to any Award or course can be extensive. However, there will typically be two or three specific pieces of legislation or regulation that will be particularly pertinent. Our Curriculum Team checks that these items are emphasised. For example, there are more than twenty pieces of legislation and regulation that effects safeguarding adults in some way, but not all them will be relevant to the target audience of a particular Award or course. On the other hand, there are ten separate pieces of legislation and regulation relevant to the Safe Handling of Medicines that are all important.

National Occupational Standards

The National Occupational Standards are sector-specific standards of the knowledge and skills that workers should have to perform effectively. They are developed by the relevant Sector Skills Council and approved by sector regulators, giving them an official weight.

Advantage uses the Standards to ensure that our Awards and centre courses are meeting the skills requirements for the care sector. With any course submitted for approval, pertinent standards are highlighted and mapped to the course content.

RQF/Qualifications/Frameworks

Skills for Care has developed qualification specifications that training should be linked to so that learners can demonstrate career development. We map Awards and courses against these qualification specifications so that learners get the best possible outcomes and so that all necessary knowledge is incorporated.

Skills for Care and Skills for Health also develop additional frameworks to help standardise training and career development in the sector. Examples include the Care Certificate and the Core Skills Training Framework. We map Awards and courses against these frameworks too where relevant.

Expert Bodies

Different sectors and even areas of specific knowledge have expert bodies that produce guidance. Examples include the Resuscitation Council for CPR and first aid, and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). The interaction between these bodies and organisations such as Skills for Care often means that their guidelines, advice and publications on best practice are incorporated into National Occupational Standards or RQF qualifications, but it is nevertheless important that learning materials are mapped accordingly. This helps ensure that Advantage Awards and centre courses are at the cutting edge and include the latest best practice.

Are you ready to get your own courses accredited or to use our Advantage Awards? Complete our simple, online application form.

First aid training accreditation - Advantage Accreditation

Why get your first aid training accredited?

Ever since the HSE deregulated (in a manner of speaking) the first aid training market, the number of providers has increased and differentiation has become more difficult. Awarding bodies and accreditation bodies often pitch themselves to first aid training providers as being to help them overcome the competition. But what’s really the case for accreditation? You may find the below useful if you’re a training provider wondering whether to get your first aid courses accredited, or if you’re a consumer looking to see if it’s worth paying the additional cost.

The story so far

In the past, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) approved first aid training providers. Although the title of the course changed over the years (from Appointed Persons First Aid to First Aid at Work, for example), the importance of the HSE’s stamp of approval was a constant and ensured a quality standard in the market.

After 1 October 2013, however, the HSE ceased approving first aid training providers. The argument from the HSE and the government at the time was to allow organisations more flexibility, but it was also part of a wider shift in regulatory practice of moving the onus on to the organisation itself. It is now the responsibility of organisations to ensure that the training they have received is sufficient and proportionate according to their own risk assessment.

The situation now

The HSE no longer approves first aid training providers. Instead, it has criteria that it recommends organisations look for when choosing a provider. The criteria includes:

  • That the trainer has an appropriate qualification
  • An organisational quality assurance scheme to monitor training delivery
  • Able to produce accurate certificates
  • Appropriate course content

Technically, there is nothing that forces organisations to adopt this guidance. The issue only emerges when there is an inspection by either local enforcement agencies or the HSE itself and the organisation must demonstrate that the training is appropriate. However, the number of proactive visits carried out by such bodies has plunged by nearly 70% since 2010, meaning most inspections only occur after an accident or complaint. There are a good number of organisations who are happy to play the percentages.

First aid training accreditation - Advantage Accreditation

Why get your first aid training accredited?

So, in that context, why should first aid training providers seek to deliver a regulated qualification or seek accreditation?

1. Rising above the competition

Deregulation meant that the number of smaller training providers increased. Plimsoll has consistently said that the market is either stagnant or growing by very small amounts, but this is only half the story. Plimsoll only looks at the sales revenue of registered companies. The reason that the sales of those companies is falling or flat, however, is because of the large number of sole traders and unregistered providers who have begun to offer their services. This may explain why, in the detail of their report, you will see that the very small – insurgents with little overhead – and very big providers – with recognised brands and marketing power – are growing, whilst the middle-ranking providers are being squeezed.

In other words, first aid training has effectively become commoditised, meaning differentiation has become more and more important. Demonstrating that your courses are of a high standard that you are a reputable provider could be the difference between sales growth or slow decline.

2. Making clients’ lives easier

Although some organisations will seek shortcuts, many will want to ensure that their staff are trained to suitable standards. A small business owner reading the HSE’s criteria may therefore panic about checking that their chosen providers meets all of the best practice checklist.

An accreditation scheme helps make their life easier. If your training is accredited, it gives comfort to prospective clients and makes choosing you as their provider just that little bit easier.

3. The HSE criteria

Unfortunately, incidents do occur and the HSE or other bodies do have to investigate. In those scenarios, the business will need to demonstrate that it chose its first aid training provider in good faith, and the provider will need to show that its product is fit for purpose.

The easiest way to do this is to meet the HSE’s own criteria, which recognises that some providers “operate under voluntary accreditation schemes (including trade/industry bodies)”. Accreditation of your first aid training will help with all the HSE’s criteria, but there are two elements of their checklist that it can particularly help with.

  1. Is there a quality assurance system in place to monitor the quality of training? Many organisations will be too small and too busy to spend vast amounts of time preparing quality policies and carrying out quality visits. An accreditation scheme will either provide that system for you, or help you to put yours in place.
  2. Is first aid taught in accordance with currently accepted first-aid practice? Staying up to date with the guidance issued by bodies such as the HSE and Resuscitation Council UK can be difficult, particularly if you’re working in a market this competitive. Accreditation schemes such as Advantage typically offer some form of curriculum update service where they update you on the latest changes in best practice or regulation.

4. In-house training

The HSE criteria has a specific section for organisations carrying out in-house training, although in reality the requirements are similar to those expected of external providers. The challenge is record-keeping. Accreditation schemes may help you with keeping those records. Advantage, for example, offers an online accreditation portal to manage training and qualification records. We also help centres to put internal record systems in place, including checking their in-house trainers’ qualifications.

Conclusion

Getting your training accredited does not make you a great first aid training provider, nor does it prevent you from serious reputation damage if it is found that you cannot back up what you say. It may, however, help steer you in the right direction and show that you take training standards seriously an increasingly difficult marketplace.

Benefits of training accreditation - Advantage Accreditation

Benefits of accreditation

Regardless of your sector, there are many different accreditation schemes available. Some people automatically reach for accreditation services, whereas others seek to go it alone. But what are the actual benefits of getting yourself accredited?

1. Confidence to regulators and external bodies

Every sector has regulators, although some are more involved and prescriptive than others. As much as you want to work with those regulators, you want to give them as much confidence as possible in what you do so that you can get on with delivering your products and services. In the health and social care sector, that means giving the Care Quality Commission (CQC) confidence in your ability to provide adequate care and to train your staff with the skills they need.

2. Confidence to customers and service users

Social media and review websites have made the public more mistrustful and cynical about the claims made by organisations. Accreditation protects against this by showing that, unlike others, you take your obligations to them seriously. For supermarkets, using accreditations such as the Red Tractor on their products shows that they take their advertised commitments to British farmers and British produce seriously. For training organisations, getting your courses accredited is testament to the fact that you place great stock in accuracy and training quality.

3. Confidence to employees

Employees, particularly Millennials and those of Generation Z, are becoming much more discriminating when choosing for whom they work. Talented employees now want employers who have a core purpose, have ethical practices, and offer good working conditions. Gaining accreditation proves to them that you are out to swindle anyone but provide a substantial service or product. There are accreditation schemes specifically designed to prove to prospective employees that you care for the people who work for you, such as Investors in People.

4. Help and support

Many accreditation or awarding bodies also offer support and guidance. The Federation of Master Builders offers members a suite of legal forms and a free helpline. Others may offer knowledge updates or seminars.

Above all, accreditation is about reassurance for yourself and for others.

What about you?

Are you a care organisation or a training provider? Find out about the benefits of getting your training accredited.