The learning environment in Swedish public elderly care has typically been described as resting on experience-based learning and characterized by a low level of formal education among the employees. The increasing number of elderly and the future needs for skilled workers in elderly care has been addressed in several investigations made by local and regional authorities. In the present study we want to highlight the workplace learning climate in home help service and residential care in elderly care in an average sized Swedish municipality, before and after an intervention. The intervention was a part of the programme “Steps for skill” initiated by the former Swedish government in 2005 and its basic idea was to build new infrastructures for learning and development in elderly care. The project focused on three main areas: Individual education programmes and development of carrier steps; the “Break-through” methodto improve learning and skill development in workgroups and additional education to all leaders. Besides, a knowledge base including experiences from the workgroups for future use is going to be constructed.
Within this frame we will focus on the learning climate in home help services and residential homes. The specific research questions are: Are there differences between home help services and residential homes in their experience of the learning climate and what is the outcome of the intervention when it comes to the experiences of the learning climate? Why may the experience of the learning climate differ between HHS an RH and how can such difference be understood? A total of 35 workplaces participated. Each workplace included two groups answering the “learning climate” questionnaire, those who were actively working with the “Break-through” method (n=150) and those who were not (n=200).
Preliminary results show that there is a significant difference between the two types of elderly care when it comes to the total score on learning climate; the groups working in home help service have a lower estimation than the groups working in residential homes. Among the subscales it was decision autonomy, collaborative potential and innovative climate that showed significant differences. To work in home help services among other things seems to have a negative influence on the learning climate, which is not surprising considering the lack of opportunities to discuss everyday work activities and specific problems when they occur. The home help service has specific working conditions that are not in line with the suggested key factors in workplace learning. Therefore, new forms of workplace learning and knowledge transfer should be tailored to fit this kind of work. However, at this moment the second wave of data has not been completed and therefore we cannot address the questions about the outcome of the intervention yet.
Langley, Nolan, Nolan, Norman, Provost (1996) The improvement guide: A practical approach to enhancing organizational performance.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
14th European Congress of Work and Organizational Psychology, Santiago de Compostela 2009 May 13-16, Spain