Enterprise wide learning at Home Nursing Group: a #OutstandingTeam

Bente Ryan, ACC National Support Manager talks to Kyra Moss, Chief People and Culture Officer at Home Nursing Group about the Home Nursing Group strategy and tactical implementation to support their vision.

HNG’s core philosophy is embodied in the statement: “even more than caring”. By offering older people real choice and control over their care at home. To always be respectful and mindful that this is ‘where their heart belongs’. To that end, HNG believe that care is not a service or a commodity, but is a fundamental tenet of how they carry out their tasks – they love their jobs!

“Training is key to communicating this core philosophy and our culture and getting everyone on the same page,” says Kyra.

The field staff of HNG covers a large footprint – in fact, they are dispersed across nearly one-quarter of NSW! The staff is often geographically isolated and this has its own unique risks and challenges.

HNG identified a need to restore an enterprise-wide approach to learning over this huge geographic area. Additionally, it was vital to engage staff in feeling part of the team and the vision of HNG. Relevant training is supported “top down, bottom up’ as this is fundamental to communicating HNG’s cultural values consistently. In addition to the required competency training, all staff receives specialist training covering dementia, mental health, and palliative care.

In summary, to reinforce organisational culture internally and externally to the wider community, HNG:

  1. Ensure staff has access to on-going educational opportunities
  2. Ensure job-training supports all external learning
  3. Provide education that keeps abreast of health care changes and better practice
  4. Instill an educational process and system that feeds into the organisational continuous improvement loop and
  5. Support a blended learning culture

HNG’s Chief Operating Officer and Care Services Manager work with Kyra to drive the HNG education calendar, demonstrating a high level of buy-in from the executive team. The expectation of on-going learning is crystal clear to all but is also supported by a solution-focused environment.

As early as a staff interview and orientation, HNG engages new field staff in open discussions addressing computer skills – with the expectation staff will have basic abilities, for example, email and online learning capabilities so there are no surprises.

“We find an open discussion where people can understand expectations and work through limitations, such as technology barriers, is key.

Sometimes, it a small suggestion that makes all the difference – such as encouraging staff to use the council library to access online learning. Or, come into the office before or after a shift to complete learning there. Acknowledging that our people’s personal Internet is costly, and respecting that by finding a solution is an example of being solution focused,” says Kyra.


Additionally, feedback is encouraged and acted upon. For example, initially education consisted of 2 ACC Learning Plans each month. Upon investigating learning and discovering uptake was low, Kyra and the team sought a solution to improve this. A solution of 1 ACC Learning Plan plus one face-to-face session each month was agreed upon and with a focus on a key theme per month, this has improved engagement and completion rates. Says Kyra “the WHS Committee looks at staff engagement from staff all across the business”.

Also during the interview process the expectation of education is made clear.

Kyra says “education is shaping the way staff are working with our clients. Because education is so important to HNG and communicating cultural values, especially as they begin to prepare for Increasing Choice changes in 2017, reward and recognition for education has been carefully considered. For example, HNG has built an annual certificate that acknowledges all learning and lists, which ACC courses have been ‘completed’, and which remain ‘incomplete’. Importantly, the one document covers all learning, and is succinct, and a useful document for field staff to include in their professional development portfolios – and is available to them on request.

Kyra explained that implementing on-going education is a little bit of a “carrot and stick” approach – the carrot being the certificates and positive recognition in the staff newsletter for example, the stick is the performance management framework where staff are measured against their KPIs on completion of ACC learning. Mandatory learning is vital and it shows managers who have the right skills to provide the right care for their clients.

“We found success in building a theme around ACC courses. For example the ACC course on risk management “Responding to Emergencies: Disaster Preparedness” we themed education around fire safety in the home. ACC’s course “WHS: Looking After Your Back” we incorporated into a theme called “staying well at work”. Using the course “Infection Control in in a Home Care Setting” we conducted a face-to-face session delivered by an RN and the topic was expanded on hand hygiene in specific settings – around food and wounds. Additionally, by timetabling sessions specific to external factors can make learning more relevant, so for instance we run the infection control theme as winter approaches,” says Kyra.

“We have learnt that incorporating too much information can overload staff so the monthly staff newsletter showcases the educational theme and we include links to additional resources related to that theme. As part of staff meetings, we follow up on this learning.

We have learnt that a career path should be available to care staff and to keep learning in order to keep abreast of health care changes can only be beneficial for the individual staff member, the client and the organisation. A skill set learnt many years ago, should periodically be revisited because that’s the kind of care that counts. RNs and Drs must revise and justify their skills continually, why not care staff?

Also, when staff receive similar or consistent education, training and professional development, standards of care practices can be regulated across the organisation. In the future we will also look to championing staff with an aptitude for training to encourage the less motivated learners to take education on board by talking about modules, peer to peer for example.”

 To download a copy of Enterprise wide learning at Home Nursing Group, please click here.