Bond Solon, the UK’s leading legal training company for health and social services practitioners, has been working with Teesside University’s School of Health and Social Care since 2013 when it sought accreditation and monitoring support for one of its qualifications.
The organisation, which trains 5,000 health and social care professionals every year in their legal and safeguarding duties, skills and knowledge, needed external approval for its Best Interest Assessor (BIA) course. The Masters Level 7 programme (worth 20 postgraduate credits) develops individuals’ knowledge and skills to work with adults who may lack capacity to make decisions for themselves about their care or treatment. It is the only BIA qualification, delivered by a training company, approved by the Department of Health and Social Care.
The course comprises of four interactive face-to-face days of training, over consecutive days or in two blocks of two days over the course of the same month. Unlike typical university modules, Bond Solon offers the benefit of delivering this module on an in-house basis and there is no need to travel to the Teesside campus. “We are very niche in what we do and it was important to us to find a specialist partner,” Zak said. “We deliver all the content, but the University provides access to its online learning system, e-library and student support as well as the award of a BIA qualification. It is seen as the gold standard for Best Interest Assessors and has trained over hundreds of professionals.”
Zak highlighted the University’s flexibility and the quality of its processes as being particularly appreciated by Bond Solon. “The initial challenge with this qualification was the short turnaround from completing the course to receiving the award, without hindering the quality of the programme,” he said. “We therefore worked closely with the University to adjust its approaches to award ratification, with Teesside bringing together an approval board sooner as needed, which means that there is now a three-month timeframe from start to finish. The University also re-designed its Blackboard (virtual learning environment) provision following delegate feedback, and now provides step-by-step guidance for students which is needed as some have not been in education for 20 years. These are really good examples of flexibility. Generally, we have a great relationship with Linda and our module lead at Teesside, and we really value their strategic quality assurance visits.”
Zak added that the BIA qualification had been “hugely beneficial” for Bond Solon and that there were opportunities to do more with Teesside. “The BIA is commercially beneficial and has enabled movement into markets that we would not have been able to access without Teesside’s accreditation,” he said. “It has allowed us to enter a new market for individual BIAs, and customers come back for other training too. There are some legal changes on the horizon around the BIA and we are currently working with the University on how to address these, for example conversion courses for those we have trained already and seeing what qualifications may be needed as a result of new legislation. That we have worked with Teesside for five years speaks volumes for how good the relationship is, and also that we are talking about expanding their involvement in other courses we run.”
“Today, the law is embedded across health and social services, and those professionals engage with, and have to correctly interpret and apply the law on a daily basis. The study and practical application of the law by non-lawyers can be a challenge, yet this is a challenge that must be met. It is important that all health and social care practitioners are equipped with the key legal skills to enhance their day-to-day professional roles and to act effectively, lawfully and to best practice standards. We needed an external partner to develop the BIA qualification with, Teesside University was my first choice, and so I approached Linda Nelson (Associate Dean, Enterprise and Business Engagement in the University’s School of Health and Social Care).”