Personal Development


As a health and social care worker, you must take responsibility for your own learning and development in collaboration with your employer/manager.

This article explores your professional competence and professional development, including learning from activities, reflection and feedback. We will also discuss the process of creating a Personal Development Plan (PDP) to methodically plan and review your learning and development.

Professional competence

Professional competence is your ability to perform your role according to your contractual duties with your employer whilst adhering to professional standards. You should regularly review and compare your own practice to the professional standards detailed below to ensure that you are performing your role correctly and identify areas for improvement.

Your duties and responsibilites

Your duties and responsibilities will have been agreed upon when you began your employment and will be documented in your job description. This may include things like, ensuring the comfort of individuals receiving care, keeping accurate records and reporting any concerns that you have. It will be useful to review your job description to ensure that you are working within the scope of your job role.

One of your responsibilities will be to work with your employer to ensure that you are sufficiently trained in all aspects of your job role. This means that you must attend mandatory training sessions and collaborate with your manager to develop a Personal Development Plan (PDP).

Standards in health and social care

There are several standards that you can compare yourself against to measure your professional competence. Some of these are included below.

Code of conduct

It is essential that you familiarise yourself with the Code of Conduct for Healthcare Support Workers and Adult Social Care Workers in England. The Code sets out the minimum standards that you are expected to meet and can be used to provide guidance when you are faced with work-related dilemmas as well as identifying areas for professional development.

The seven core principles of the Code are reproduced below, however, it is important that you read the whole document so that you have a clear understanding of your responsibilities as a care worker.

As a Healthcare Support Worker or Adult Social Care Worker in England you must:

1. Be accountable by making sure you can answer for your actions or omissions.

2. Promote and uphold the privacy, dignity, rights, health and wellbeing of people who use health and care services and their carers at all times.

3. Work in collaboration with your colleagues to ensure the delivery of high quality, safe and compassionate healthcare, care and support.

4. Communicate in an open, and effective way to promote the health, safety and wellbeing of people who use health and care services and their carers.

5. Respect a person’s right to confidentiality.

6. Strive to improve the quality of healthcare, care and support through continuing professional

7. Uphold and promote equality, diversity and inclusion.Excerpt from

The Care Quality Commission’s Fundamental Standards

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulates health and social care providers in England and their thirteen fundamental standards are what everybody that receives these services can expect. These standards are:

  • Person-centred care
  • Dignity and respect
  • Consent
  • Safety
  • Safeguarding from abuse
  • Food and drink
  • Premises and equipment
  • Complaints
  • Good governance
  • Staffing
  • Fit and proper staff
  • Duty of candour
  • Display of ratings

The Six Cs

The six Cs were developed by the NHS Commissioning Board as part of their Compassion in Practice strategy to identify the values that are essential to compassionate care. Originally developed for the nursing profession to underpin culture and practice, they are now used by all organisations that provide care and support services. The six Cs are:

  • Care
  • Compassion
  • Competence
  • Communication
  • Courage
  • Commitment

The Care Certificate

The Care Certificate is a set of fifteen standards that were developed jointly by Health Education England, Skills for Care and Skills for Health to set out the minimum knowledge, skills and understanding that is necessary for workers that are new to the care sector. They were designed to be part of the induction process and to be completed around twelve weeks from the start of employment.


National Minimum Training Standards (NMTS) define the minimum standards that all care workers should meet and National Occupational Standards (NOS) identify specific standards for particular roles.

Functional level of maths, english and communication skills

Functional levels of maths, English and communication skills are the minimum standards you need in these areas to perform your role competently and confidently.

Maths is required for several reasons from balance checks to ensuring the correct dosage of medicine. English is needed for reading (care plans, policies etc.) and writing (care notes, emails etc.). Communication skills are needed so that you are able to effectively speak to and listen to all the people that you come into contact with and understand one another. It also covers other types of communication, such as email.

Functional Skills Level 2 in maths and English are equivalent to GCSE grades A*-C. If you are studying for an apprenticeship, you will also need to prove that you are at this level by completing Functional Skills exams or providing your GCSE certificates as evidence.

Practice papers for Functional Skills are available online, so you can self-assess your knowledge and understanding in these subjects by testing yourself.

Maintaining professionalism

To maintain professionalism within your practice, you should ensure that you adhere to the boundaries of working relationships. You should also ensure that you do not let your personal experiences, views and beliefs influence others. This requires you to be tolerant and non-judgmental. For example, if you are a firm believer in a particular political party, you should not force these views onto others.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is the cyclical process of ongoing learning. We should always be aiming to increase our knowledge, skills and understanding and improve our working practices.

By continually learning and developing, we can ensure that we adhere to the latest legislation, regulation and best practice, upskill ourselves and create career opportunities and develop our competence and confidence.

You will have access to several sources of support for your own learning and development. Some of these may include:

  • Your manager
  • Your tutor
  • Your co-workers
  • Other health and social care professionals external to your organisation
  • Documentation from your employer (e.g. job adverts, policies and procedures etc.)
  • Your own research using the Internet

Some of the methods that you may use for your learning and development are described below.

Learning activities

Learning activities encompass all activities that you perform that result in positive learning experiences or increase your knowledge, skills or understanding.

Some examples include:

  • Formal training
  • Team meetings
  • Shadowing
  • Induction
  • Discussions with other professionals
  • Supervision and appraisal

For example, during a team meeting, you may discuss with your co-workers’ strategies that support individuals to become more independent. By sharing insights, you can learn from one another which things work best for the individuals that you work with.


Self-reflection is a process that is used to convert your experiences into knowledge and understanding. David A. Kolb, a pioneer in the study of reflective practice explains:

“Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.”

Kolb, 1984

Reflective practice is the process of consciously thinking back to a situation or experience, analysing what you felt and did and then evaluating how well it went. By deliberately assessing your own experiences, you can gain valuable insights about your practice and identify ways in which you could improve if a similar situation arises in the future.

For example, you may reflect on a situation that resulted in an individual receiving insufficient emotional support because you forgot to pass on information about them receiving some bad news during the handover with the next shift staff. You would think about the reasons that you might have forgotten and identify actionable steps that could prevent you from making a similar error in future. Perhaps you resolve to write handover notes every few hours whilst it is fresh in your memory? Or maybe your employer’s handover system needs to be reviewed to ensure staff have adequate time to perform this important task?

Feedback from others

The way we see ourselves is rarely how we are seen by others, so it is important to get constructive feedback from others about how we can improve our practice. You may ask your co-workers or the individuals that you support to let you know if there are any areas of your practice they think you could do better.

Feedback should be constructive and you should treat it as an opportunity to develop rather than being offended.

Your manager will provide you with constructive feedback during your supervision and appraisal sessions and you should reflect on, discuss and act on what they tell you.

For example, they may inform you that your colleagues have had difficulty reading your handwritten notes and request that you try to write a little clearer. You may not have realised this was an issue until you were told. It may even help to explain some other issues that you have had recently whereby your co-workers have not followed your instructions properly – they simply were unable to decipher your scrawlings correctly!

Personal Development Plans (PDPs)

You should keep a record of your own CPD by retaining and storing any certificates you attain from training and a log of all your learning and development activities. This can be used as evidence of your commitment to CPD and can be transferred between employers. Your employer may also wish to have a copy for their records but actual certificates belong to you.

Other records that your should keep will include your Personal Development Plans (PDPs).

A PDP can be thought of as a roadmap to your learning and development goals.

In partnership with your manager, usually during supervision, you will discuss, prioritise and record your learning and development goals, along with realistic timescales and any actions that need to be taken to achieve them.

As well as any learning needs you have identified by comparing your practice to relevant standards, obtaining feedback from others and self-reflection, you should also consider your own professional interests and current development opportunities. Professional interests are areas of practice that are particularly fascinating to you and you wish to learn more about them. Development opportunities refer to areas of specialism that are currently in demand.

So, for example, your PDP may look something like this:

Complete Level 2 Apprenticeship12 monthsContinue working on assignments and seeking support from tutor and manager, when needed
Learn basic Makaton2 monthsManager to arrange colleague to teach a small group of staff the basic signs
Get experience in writing risk assessments1 weekWrite RA for service user’s first visit to the gym when on shift with them tomorrow
Personal Development Plan Example


  • 2.1 Agree a Personal Development Plan
    • 2.1a Identify sources of support for their own learning and development
    • 2.1b Describe the process for agreeing a personal development plan and who should be involved
    • 2.1c Explain why feedback from others is important in helping to develop and improve the way they work
    • 2.1d Contribute to drawing up own personal development plan
    • 2.1e Agree a personal development plan
  • 2.2 Develop their knowledge, skills and understanding
    • 2.2a Describe the functional level of literacy, numeracy and communication skills necessary to carry out their role
    • 2.2b Explain how to check their current level of literacy, numeracy and communication skills
    • 2.2c Describe how a learning activity has improved their own knowledge, skills and understanding
    • 2.2d Describe how reflecting on a situation has improved their own knowledge, skills and understanding
    • 2.2e Describe how feedback from others has developed their own knowledge, skills and understanding
    • 2.2f Demonstrate how to measure their own knowledge, performance and understanding against relevant standards
    • 2.2g List the learning opportunities available to them and how they can use them to improve the way they work
    • 2.2h Demonstrate how to record progress in relation to their personal development
    • 2.2i Explain why continuing professional development is important


  • 1 Understand what is required for competence in own work role
    • 1.1 Describe the duties and responsibilities of own work role
    • 1.2 Identify standards that influence the way the role is carried out
    • 1.3 Describe ways to ensure that personal attitudes or beliefs do not obstruct the quality of work
  • 2 Be able to reflect on own work activities
    • 2.1 Explain why reflecting on work activities is an important way to develop knowledge, skills and practice
    • 2.2 Assess how well own knowledge, skills and understanding meet standards
    • 2.3 Demonstrate the ability to reflect on work activities
  • 3 Be able to agree a personal development plan
    • 3.1 Identify sources of support for own learning and development
    • 3.2 Describe the process for agreeing a personal development plan and who should be involved
    • 3.3 Contribute to drawing up own personal development plan
  • 4 Be able to develop knowledge, skills and understanding
    • 4.1 Show how a learning activity has improved own knowledge, skills and understanding
    • 4.2 Show how reflecting on a situation has improved own knowledge, skills and understanding
    • 4.3 Explain the importance of continuing professional development
    • 4.4 Show how feedback from others has developed own knowledge, skills and understanding
    • 4.5 Show how to record progress in relation to personal development


  • 1 Understand what is required for competence in own work role
    • 1.1 Describe the duties and responsibilities of own work role
    • 1.2 Explain expectations about own work role as expressed in relevant standards
    • 1.3 Describe how to work effectively with others
  • 2 Be able to reflect on practice
    • 2.1 Explain the importance of reflective practice in continuously improving the quality of service provided
    • 2.2 Reflect on practice to improve the quality of the service provided
    • 2.3 Describe how own values, belief systems and experiences may affect working practice
  • 3 Be able to evaluate own performance
    • 3.1 Evaluate own knowledge, performance and understanding against relevant standards
    • 3.2 Use feedback to evaluate own performance and inform development
  • 4 Be able to agree a personal development plan
    • 4.1 Identify sources of support for planning and reviewing own development
    • 4.2 Work with others to review and prioritise own learning needs, professional interests and development opportunities
    • 4.3 Work with others to agree own personal development plan
  • 5 Be able to use learning opportunities and reflective practice to contribute to personal development
    • 5.1 Evaluate how learning activities have affected practice
    • 5.2 Explain how reflective practice has led to improved ways of working
    • 5.3 Explain why continuing professional development is important
    • 5.4 Record progress in relation to personal development