Thames Hospice case study

Top Benefits

  • Supported through implementation

  • Improved visibility

  • Simplifying inspection

  • Free volunteer licences

  • Expert course content

  • Easy course creation

  • Healthy competition

  • Embedding knowledge

  • Smarter, slicker and revolutionary

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Thames Hospice

Client interview with Director of Education and Research, Jacquie Batchford, and Education Data and Administration Manager, Danielle Maisey


Thames Hospice is a charity providing expert care for people living with life-limiting illnesses in East Berkshire and South Buckinghamshire, and supporting their families and carers. Services include therapy, nursing and medical care, as well as practical and emotional support at the charity’s new, state-of-the-art facility in Maidenhead and in patients’ homes. The organisation has approximately 80 retail staff and 180 hospice staff, including volunteers.

The Challenge

The Hospice found that they were experiencing issues with their previous online learning. They were using two platforms to record training plus still had paper elements to their training process. They wished to be able to manage their online learning, face-to face-training and clinical competency work through one platform, and to go paperless. They knew this would enable them to more easily demonstrate regulatory compliance during CQC inspection. Jacquie explains:

“With our previous e-learning system we couldn’t manage and record face to face training, upload certificates from other forms of training, or record competency work. We had to use separate systems to manage all of that. We wanted one system that could do the whole lot.”

The organisation was using different methods of training for its hospice staff and retail staff—hospice staff were using a blend of e-learning and face-to-face clinical training, but retail staff were receiving face-to-face training only, and needed to be brought onto a suitable e-learning system to in order to standardise learning and reduce time-consuming administrative processes. Danielle explains:

“Previously our retail staff were only receiving inhouse training, which involved the retail managers using a flip-chart, which was a very long-winded and ineffective way to deliver their training. As this training was scheduled to be repeated annually it took far too long to complete the training across the 23 different retail sites and involved waiting for signed completion slips to be delivered to the Education Department before the training records could be updated on the HR system. As you can imagine, it was very tedious and lengthy process.”

“Our compliance rates with the clinical staff are good because we work hard to stay on top of it but it meant running weekly reports to see who was out-of-date, then emailing or phoning the member of staff to remind them that their mandatory training was due or overdue and arranging renewals. Again, it was a very time-consuming process.”

In terms of the e-learning in place at that time for hospice staff, the organisation wanted something that would foster better engagement from staff, and provide better reporting capabilities for administrators. Danielle says:

“The system we previously used for our hospice staff wasn’t immersive
enough. It was a case of staff reading through bland slides with a test at the end. You could understand why people just weren’t engaging with it, It wasn’t at all interactive and the reporting system was poor with limited functionality.”

The Solution

In late 2019 Jacquie set out to find a better solution. The Hospice is a Hospice Quality Partnership (HQP) partner, and during her research Jacquie found that Relias is an approved HQP supplier meaning that she could be confident that the company had already undergone robust due diligence. She therefore included Relias in a comprehensive options appraisal of four online learning suppliers. Despite her analysis including a free e-learning system it was Relias that proved to represent the best value by having everything Thames Hospice was looking for, including advanced reporting capabilities:

“We had the option of going with free NHS e-learning, but although it also had the courses we needed it didn’t have all the functionality of the Relias Learning Management system. We were pleased to discover though that Relias integrates with that system anyway, so if there’s a topic we want that
isn’t yet in the Relias course library we can still access that content via the Relias system but have the benefit of the Relias functionality to assign the course to our staff and track and report on completions.” Danielle adds: “Relias wasn’t the cheapest option but ultimately it was going to provide us with a real solution.”

Supported through Implementation

With the guidance and support of the Relias Client Care team, Thames Hospice underwent implementation during the period of Covid-19. Danielle explains: “We completed our implementation in two stages. We focused on our retail team initially. Many of them had not undertaken e-learning
before, and certainly not with Thames Hospice but because of the Covid-19 pandemic most of the team had been furloughed so we felt it would be a really good opportunity to get them started whilst quiet and allow them the time to adapt to our new e-learning platform and complete their training.
We then put the rest of the hospice-based staff on the system.” “You’re handheld all the way through the implementation process. Everything is really well explained to you, so you can be confident that you’re not just going to receive the software package and not know how to use it. Having the Relias client care consultant to help manage implementation
is fantastic, we just booked the calls in when we were free and were guided through each learning session. I think anyone who is fairly competent in IT would be able to manage the system with the help of Relias’ implementation team.”

An End to Multiple Systems

One of the major benefits to Thames Hospice is that the Relias system enables them to bring everything together in one place. Danielle explains:

“We needed a better way of recording and reporting on training, we needed more control over our users’ learning and which modules were required, and we needed an end to multiple systems—with Relias, we have all of this.”

“With a paper-heavy recording system it was a constant battle to keep tabs on training records which often meant going back over records to double-check, work “The process of adding our own content is really intuitive.”

out which training was coming up for renewal and which training was out-of-date. But once we have finished adapting Relias to match our training schedules, it will do all of this for us. We will have greater control of the training and have an instant overview of where we are on compliance.”
Jacquie says:

“We’ve been excited at the prospect of putting our booking lists for face-to-face training on the system so that staff can log on and book themselves onto sessions. And we’re going to use the Relias workplace assessments feature for our competency work, so we can now run everything through the one platform.”

Improved Visibility

Another benefit has been the introduction of a training hierarchy within the system, providing visibility and responsibility to supervisors and line managers. Danielle explains:

“We like the structure of it, you can have different layers of users, and we can give individual users different levels of access. A problem we were having before is that our department were the only people to have access to all of the learners’ records and progress. By having the functionality of
hierarchies we can involve line managers and head of departments and send automated reports to them regularly. This gives them more visibility so they’re are more aware of their staff training progress; previously they had been completely reliant on us for this data.”

Jacquie points out that visibility and ownership is also improved for learners themselves: “That’s the beauty of a learning management system. Staff can log on and have a look at the status of their own training. They can view what they’ve already completed, what’s left to do, they can see their certificates, and this way there’s a lot more personal responsibility.”

Simplifying Inspection

The organisation believes it will find Relias to be a gamechanger during inspection. Jacquie is happy to be able to say: “Can I prove when the CQC come in that I’m legislatively and regulatory compliant? —Yes I can now. I couldn’t have proven compliance against regulations like I can now and it’s that simple for me.”

Danielle adds: When it comes time for inspection it will be so much easier to run the required reports and have confidence in the quality of the data. We have everything in one place. We will no longer have to run reports from different systems and try to amalgamate the data in a coherent way. It
just brings it all together.

Free Volunteer Licences

As a benefit of their HQP membership Thames Hospice has access to the Relias free volunteer solution, allowing them free training licences for their volunteer workforce. Danielle says: “The free volunteer licences are going to help greatly, because on our previous system we had to buy licences regardless of whether it was for our volunteers of staff members. And we were limited to the amount of licences, so it was a constant battle to get people off who had left and weren’t coming back. We even got to one stage where we couldn’t actually put anybody new on the system because we’d run out of licences, but the flexibility with Relias is good. We have free licences for our volunteers and can swap people in and out as
necessary at no cost.”

Expert Course Content

The Relias system has its own library of over 300 courses, plus learners can access e-Learning for Health content via the Relias LMS. This means that in addition to their statutory/mandatory training, staff have access to a wealth of courses for their personal development should they wish to take
them. Jacquie says: “I like the range of courses that staff can do in addition to their mandatory training, and the fact that the Relias content is continually checked and updated when there’s new legislation or guidance. With our previous system we had to do that ourselves.”
Danielle adds: “But also, the level of interactivity in the courses themselves is just a real eye-opener, it keeps people really engaged during their training.”

Easy Course Creation

As well as enjoying the range of training in the Relias course libraries, the organisation is looking forward to creating its own online courses—something that the Relias system makes easy. Jacquie says: “The option to create our own courses in the system is also something we will be
making use of. Healthcare-wise, the system has all the courses we need. We’re absolutely covered, we’re done and dusted, that’s fine. But there are some organisation-specific things for our maintenance staff that we could add on there, and also things like where our funding comes from and how we fundraise, or the importance of making a will—these are topics that we’re interested in creating ourselves and the Relias system will help us
do that.” Danielle says: “We’ve already added a module to the system and have had a request from our Fundraising Department to add content for the staff—the process of adding our own content is really intuitive.”

Healthy Competition

The organisation has the Relias gamification feature switched on, which enables learners to collect digital ‘coins’ for completion of training, to buy
decorative emblems for their digital crest, and to compete for a place on the leaderboard. Relias has found that having the feature switched on increases completion of training ahead of due date by 11% on average for its clients.
Jacquie says:“It’s interesting to see our staff engaging with that feature. A glance at the leaderboard tells me that one of our staff has reached level 10 and has obviously been working on his crest. He’s got eagles and acorns all over his, so it’s clearly something that’s going to be popular with people
who enjoy a little healthy competition.”

Embedding Knowledge

Danielle is equally impressed by the system’s BrainSparks feature which issues reminder questions to learners at set intervals after they have completed a course, using the science of learning to re-ignite their memory of what they studied. She says: “The BrainSparks questions are just ingenious because they really do embed the knowledge.”

Slicker, smarter and revolutionary

Looking to the future of education at Thames Hospice, Jacquie comments: “I do see this as part of standardising, and I also want education to look slicker and smarter. I think people are going to engage with it more if we look better and we’re more professional.” Danielle adds: “The more I discover, each layer I go through, and as I’m getting deeper and deeper
into the system I’m realising this is going to completely revolutionise the whole training system at Thames Hospice, not just e-learning but managing our face-to-face learning for clinical staff and our clinical competency work. You can imagine the amount of work all of that produces, but we can automate it all on Relias.
“From where we were when I started with the hospice to where we’re going to be, once we’re up and running with all the functionality, is just going to be amazing.”


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