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Innovation at the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust Implementing ESR Learning Management

The Northern Care Alliance (NCA) NHS Foundation Trust contains four hospitals and extensive community services across Salford, Oldham, Bury and Rochdale. At the beginning of 2020, Pennine Acute and Salford Royal began discussing the merging of the two organisations. As part of the harmonising and aligning of policies and processes, the learning management systems in use at both organisations were reviewed.

Sharon Taylor - Associate Director of People, For People Information & Systems, and Occupational Health Department explained:

Our NCA family is based over multiple sites and locations; we work together to utilise best practise and standardise our systems and processes to work together for the benefit of our People; our strategy meant one learning management system was the right way to move forward.

Following a review of learning management systems used by Pennine Acute and Salford Royal, ESR Learning management was selected. Work began to standardise ESR Learning Management across the Trust utilising a Shared Training Centre model. In the summer of 2020, the NCA submitted a request to merge the two organisations in 2022. Work then began in earnest to use ESR Learning Management across the NCA.

Preparation and Implementation

A project team was established with representatives from both Pennine Acute and Salford; a project manager was appointed who led the project, with the assistance of the NHSBSA ESR Functional Account Manager and ESR Implementation Advisor. Although the project team met on a regular basis, the project was slow to achieve some objectives in 2020, but in January 2021, a date was agreed for ‘go live’ for all Statutory and Mandatory training requirements.

Whilst agreement was being finalised on the requirements for the NCA, the team began exploring the learner’s journey when using ESR Learning Management.

Making use of the web portlets

The Digital Learning Manager for the NCA quickly saw the potential in the ESR Web portlets using Bootstrap HTML code to produce collapsible menus, and accordions acting as a min-catalogue for learners.

This method of engagement was important for the NCA to support the transition to ESR Learning Management as a new system.

Preparation continued at pace during the summer of 2021 - this involved updating learning records to reflect training history, setting of competency requirements across both organisations at business group, organisation, job role and position. Creating certifications to match the training requirements utilising pre-requisite’s enabled a blended learning approach of e-learning and face to face.

Highlighting the way that he approached setting the courses up in ESR, Kevin Mahon, Technical Systems Manager, People Information & Systems, Northern Care Alliance NHS Group told us:

Most of the non-mandatory courses that were already on our third-party platform were built in a way that were not SCORM compliant but utilised the built-in features of the platform such as seminars, documents, workbooks and tests. I had to find a way to transfer these courses into ESR Learning Management with limited resource. To overcome this challenge, I built a template using Lectora software that allowed me to create HTML pages. Using this approach, I could mimic the third-party platform pages so they looked familiar but within ESR Learning Management instead. We transferred over 50 of these courses using this template, including setting up the associated tests in ESR Learning Management.

In total the team built 89 courses (55 e-learning with tests) and renamed over 450 courses, certifications and offerings to ensure they follow a new NCA naming convention across both VPD’s in preparation for the Merge.

On the 16 August 2021 ESR Learning Management went live across the NCA.

Evaluation and Next steps

Learning completion data, week upon week and month upon month, indicates learners have adapted to the change and can navigate around the system. Work now continues to align Job Essential training requirements; this work will be ongoing prior to the merge of the two organisations and after the merge.

Between go live and to 1st January 2022 there were:

  • 20,975 certification subscriptions
  • 18,665 completions (89% of enrolments)
  • 6133 classroom enrolments

The NCA are also experimenting with QR codes and ESR Learning Management and Hyperlinks can be created by the ESR Learning Administrator, at the offering level within ESR Learning Management.

Free online software can convert these to QR codes, which can then be placed on posters, leaflets and other communication materials, making it more flexible on how staff can book onto their training.

For further information please contact Norther Care Alliance Project Manager – Kevin Mahon


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