Introduction

Almost 1 million new social care jobs will be needed by 2035 to meet demographic changes, in a market already facing high turnover and vacancy rates, with further concerns raised by Brexit. Close to half a million social care workers start a new post each year, a third of whom are new to the sector. Evidence suggests that care quality in the community social care sector is particularly reliant on workers having the right values and attitudes, particularly those aligned to person-centred care.

However, employers have few evidence-informed means for ensuring this is achieved in practice. Situational judgement tests (SJTs) are widely used across other public sector settings. SJTs work by presenting ‘critical incidents’ describing a practice-based, challenging scenario, and then asking questions about the appropriateness of different alternative actions in response. They can be used in recruitment, induction and in training. SJTs in social care are rare, often prohibitively expensive and not underpinned by scientific research.

Objectives

The study aims to design a suite of SJTs that evaluate knowledge and appraisal of person-centred attitudes and behaviours in the community social care of older people, and to empirically assess their quality and usefulness to the sector.

This study is funded jointly with The Abbeyfield Research Foundation.

Methods

This study involve a three-stage mixed methods design:

  1. design the SJTs by identifying through in-depth qualitative interviews candidate ‘critical incidents’ that describe practice-based challenging scenarios in which good (and bad) person-centred care can be exemplified. Possible responses to the critical incidents will be drafted, each reflecting different degrees of person-centredness. A scoring rubric will be formed through an online panel of Subject Matter Experts
  2. test the SJTs in a sample of up to 200 care workers through an online exercise
  3. assess the value and limitations of SJTs through focus groups with care workers, their employers, skill development stakeholders and service users/carers.