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Case Study: Dorset Cancer Network

Communication Skills Training

Established in 2000, Dorset Cancer Network is a collaborative that brings organisations together, to support delivery of the NHS National Cancer Strategy.  This approach enables organisations in the network to provide high-quality cancer services at all stages of the cancer journey, from the initial diagnosis through to end of life.


A recent national training needs analysis project to examine the level of communication skills training available for staff working in health and social care identified shortfalls in provision.  In response to this Dorset Cancer Network submitted a collaborative bid on behalf of Dorset Cancer Network, Dorset Cardiac and Stroke Network, Dorset University Healthcare Foundation NHS Trust, Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole Local Authorities to National End of Life Care Programme (NEOLCP) and Connect, the Communication Disability Network to support delivery of end of life communication skills training.

The EOL Comms – Connect Skills training programme was specifically designed to support staff working with clients with acquired communication disability as a result of dementia and cerebral vascular accident.


We were approached and asked to lead a multi-disciplinary project working across health and social care to design, deliver and evaluate the roll out of the training.

Phase 1: Design & delivery of skills based training programme suitable for frontline staff working in nursing homes in Dorset

Phase 2: Creation of Communication Skills training DVD to augment training delivery, in   particular to enable trainers to support discussion around the skills needed to support people with a communication disability.

Phase 3: Training Evaluation and Summary Report Results


In all 151 staff members received training, this against an original target of 160 during ten separate days of training.  This represented attendance from 34 different establishments across Dorset.  The greatest number of staff members trained were working as care assistants.  A smaller proportion of managerial and qualified nursing staff attended.  The training was well received and overall it does appear to have encouraged greater reflection about personal practice amongst the delegates.

What the delegates said:

‘This training gave me the confidence to approach the subject and the person I am not comfortable with. I learnt how to look at things differently’ . GK Care Assistant

‘This course gets delegates to challenge habits and their core values to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their communication on others especially, when they are dealing with sensitive topics’. ST Care Home Manager

‘Best course I have ever attended outside of the nursing home! A course not to be missed, Brilliant’. JL Staff Nurse

What the Professionals said

‘Annie, the training resource is thorough, deep and comprehensive.  It is impressive that the evidence for this resource – over 50 recent sources is included in the pack to clearly justify advice for trainers.  This is certainly high enough quality to be submitted for a short course endorsement.  It must have taken considerable effort to have created such a comprehensive report – marvellous!’ Clive Andrews Associate Dean of Practice Development, Health & Social Care.

‘I have reviewed your communication pack and would like to commend you on a splendid piece of work and the production of an excellent resource.  You have compiled a really useful resource/toolkit that is well structured, clear, easy to follow and I have every confidence it will be a real asset to everyone who attends and delivers the training’ Norma Lee Dep Dir, Bmth and Pole Community Health Services

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Case Study: Frontline NHS Organisation

Leadership Training

Large Frontline NHS Organisation with mobile work force.


As a result of attending a Leadership Development Assessment Centre and receiving feedback on their performance a Team Leader a frontline service conducted their own Training Needs Analysis within the team they managed. 

Gap analysis showed deficits in leadership skills and advanced communication skills at team leader level.


In 2016 we were approached and asked to provide a raft of training solutions because of a lack of immediate internal organisational capacity to bridge the required gap.


Solutions included delivered included Team Type away day with high level recommendations report and provision of a three day LEO.

What the delegates said:


‘I’ve recognised areas of improvement in my leadership.  I will make positive change to help my team be more independent’

‘Really good interactive course, would have liked some more time on some aspects to further aid understanding.  Although this was directed at staff below 8A it would have been useful at all levels’

‘Useful course really good to see training of this type for middle band staff.  Hope it will be repeated as there does not seem to have been much leadership and management training for middle managers’

‘It was an all round excellent course.  The only downside was a small but significant distraction where on elf the group was clearly too valuable to her boss and was persistently emailing or having to pop out to answer queries’

‘A fantastic range of techniques, exercises and activities to demonstrate leadership techniques. A very interactive 3 days which was well delivered’

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Case Study: Bournemouth Borough Council

Talent Management

We started working with Bournemouth Borough Council in 2007.  Since then we have provided training services for a broad range of Service Units.  Our collaborative working relationship has grown and developed over time so we have a good understanding of their preferred way of working, their organisational value base and business priorities.


As a Unitary Authority, Bournemouth Borough Council decided that it wanted to develop even closer links with its geographical neighbour, Borough of Poole, also a unitary authority.  Recent times have seen a drive towards creating reciprocal access to training services and talent management solutions.  Together they expressed a need to develop an innovative cross authority mentoring scheme enabling senior talent working in one authority to be mentored by the other.


We were commissioned to design, deliver and evaluate the mentor and mentee training, including advising on underpinning organisational process to support the roll out of this scheme.


A well received development opportunity for managers at all levels.

‘The structured approach includes comprehensive advisory documentation for anyone considering volunteering to be a mentor or for those who wish to be mentored.  This helps people to understand both the process and the benefits of taking part as a mentor or mentee.  Briefing sessions are held to give participants opportunity to work through a handbook enabling them to gain an in-depth understanding of mentoring and the commitment required on both sides.  Both the documentation and the briefing sessions make sure that people have the right information to make an informed decision about whether or not mentoring is right for them.

The matching process is helped by the consultant’s observations of the mentors and mentees during training.  This has helped to make sure that people aren’t just matched because of the outcomes they are looking for from mentoring, but that, as far as possible, we get a good personality match too.

This is a successful scheme which continues to grow.  We have now invited managers from private sector organisations to join our team of in house mentors, bringing their commercial knowledge to support our managers in the changing environment of the Public Sector.  We envisage offering our managers future opportunity to mentor staff in these private sector organisations.

What the commissioners said:

The scheme has totally met its original objectives.  Outcomes are not always easily quantified because of the nature of scheme but the evaluation and informal feedback received indicate that for a relatively small investment, both Councils have gained an excellent scheme, which complements well other management development interventions.

What the participants thought about the training:

Following evaluation of the scheme Mentors and Mentees felt well prepared to enter the mentoring relationship to help them gain maximum benefit.  There is recognition from both Mentors and Mentees that cross professional/cross organisational matching is an important factor in the success of the relationship.  Many mentors taking part in evaluation report unexpected personal growth as a direct result of taking part in the scheme.

Comments include:

‘Mentoring has personally challenged my perceptions and actions’

‘I have identified I am in a rut personally and I have found out I need a mentor


‘It has been great to gain multi-agency experience outside my own supervisory role’.

‘It has confirmed the good practice that I do’.

‘It has given me a real feel good factor’.

The vast majority of mentees taking part reported that Mentoring had been a very positive experience. Some have become mentors while a few have asked for a second opportunity to be a mentee.

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