OTL delivers two online attainment tests for major national care provider

January 2016

As major national care provider with over eighty sites had chosen a year ago to embed Who Cares into its selection process. This test was originally designed fifteen years ago by OTL. However, while it provides a very effective way of establishing attitudinal suitability for working in a care environment, the organization was experiencing difficulty with employees with low levels of literacy and numeracy. For example some employees were failing their care qualification NVQ. OTL were commissioned to develop face valid tests which would provide accurate information on a candidate’s level of literacy and numeracy. Sites were visited and reading and numerical demands explored. What was surprising for the psychologist was the level of reading required.

The initial, uninformed assumption was the test would be largely about establishing the ability to read signs and some functional literacy, for example reading instructions. In the event it was clear both the reading and the numerical demands were considerably more involved. Many of the difficulties occurred when having to demonstrate ‘inferential comprehension’. Care plans are complex, lengthy documents normally written by psychologists. Indeed some site managers had these re-written to be more interpretable for support staff. Even so there was considerable scope for misinterpretation.

Test items were written to reflect the wide range of reading difficulty from ‘signs reading’ through to ‘inferential comprehension’. For the numerical test the difficulties were occurring when inaccurate information was entered into drug logs, or expenditure tables. Some items therefore reflected this ‘error location’ requirement. Other items reflected the realities of day to day budgeting with service users.

The tests were then loaded onto the client’s website and bundled with Who Cares. This means one log in will present each applicant with a bundle of three short tests which capture attainment levels and with Who Cares, his or her suitability for Care Work.