Healthcare Assistants in North West London use the Challenge to improve numeracy skills

The Higher Development Award – North West London

Healthcare Assistants in North West London embarked on the journey towards improving their numeracy skills with us in 2017.

Our team worked extensively with the Leads in the sector to embed the National Numeracy Challenge into the newly designed North West London Higher Development Award for Health Care Support Workers in the region.

Our intervention in their learning was focussed on attitudes rather than skills. We found that the Health Care Support Workers were not unlike many other people who experienced significant maths anxiety.

We ran workshops with the staff to encourage positive attitudes towards maths, ensured they had the right mindset to improve and broke down the chronic maths anxiety that  many were experiencing. With this support, the staff were able to work through the National Numeracy Challenge and engage with learning resources to work towards the Essentials of Numeracy.

Why did we do this?

Hospitals, just like all other workplaces, rely on staff using numeracy skills. Our cohort told us about some of the ways that numeracy is critical for patient safety, efficiency and productivity. For example, healthcare assistants are responsible for doing spirometry and calculating medication doses.

Many also wanted to improve for their own career progression. For a number of positions applicants are required to pass numeracy tests. The staff we worked with had been put off by this as they felt anxious and underprepared to reach the level required.

What did the project achieve?

· A remarkable improvement in skills in our first cohort. The group were asked to improve their numeracy score by 5 points – almost all of them exceeded this.

· A positive shift in attitudes amongst the cohort and the trust

· Successful embedding of numeracy into the Higher Development Award. Hear for yourself in our video (below) with the participants in the project.

We have started a repeat of the project with two larger cohorts in North West London and are looking forward to seeing them progress in a similarly impressive way