2 Planning a group


Identifying a need

If you are reading this guide, you have already identified a need for extra training at your organisation. A need comes from a problem or a gap that needs to be filled. It is important to know more about that gap, and whether training will help to fill it, or if some other means is necessary. You also need to decide which learning areas need attention the most.

Here are five steps to identifying training needs:

1. Identify the job expectations of your group members

You can get this information from:

2. Compare actual employee performance with job expectations

Often, there are many reasons for a gap between what people are expected to do and what they are able to do. The solution to this needs to take all of these factors into account. Training on its own can be a solution, but it can also be only part of the solution.

3. Hold a meeting to discuss training needs

Invite staff to a meeting. Ask each person to bring a list of their top five training needs (what they need to know more about to make their job easier). Talk about everyone’s lists and your own observations.

4. Put training needs into groups

Put the training needs identified in the meeting into categories. For example:

5. Prioritise training needs

With the group, decide which training needs are the most urgent. For example, if you have many HIV-positive patients it makes sense that training on their care and management is urgent. If you have many pregnant mothers seeking medical help, perinatal care is important.

The group learns best when the chosen course matches their real training needs.

Choosing the right course

After you have identified the most urgent need, you need to choose a course that meets that need. It is important to make sure that the course covers the essential knowledge and clinical skills required for your particular work setting.

Look through our learning programmes and compare the needs you identified to the training material available. Which course best meets the needs you identified?

From here, you can make a training schedule to show which courses are most important and should be done first and which can wait until later.

Getting stakeholder buy-in

A stakeholder is anyone who has interest or concern in an organisation or service. At a hospital or clinic, the stakeholders would be

You need to make sure you have the support of these people to successfully implement your training programme (e.g. getting permission to hold group meetings during work hours or for finances to buy books and pay for the exam).

A stakeholder is anyone who has interest or concern in an organization or service.

To do that, you must clearly describe:

If you have identified the training need well, you can make a good argument for why training is important, and have the support of staff and the community.

A training budget

If you have to buy books for the group members, you will need to make a budget. Some hospitals and clinics will pay for learning materials for their staff, but you need to give them a clear budget for how much the materials will cost and any other costs you might have.

You do not need to buy the books to do a Bettercare course because you can read all our books online, for free at bettercare.co.za/learn. You only need to pay if you want to write the exam at the end of the course to get a certificate.

You might have other costs besides the books.

As the facilitator, you do not have to manage the finances. The group can choose someone who likes working with numbers to manage money and the training budget. Group finances should be transparent: this means that everyone in the group should know how much money is in the budget and how it is being spent. Always keep till slips, invoices and a record of all expenses.

A well-structured training budget will increase the chance of buy-in from stakeholders.

Example training budget

Budget for Bettercare Learning Programme
Course name:
Proposed dates of course
Budget Item Cost:
1. Books for 10 members
R160 x 10 = R1 600
R30 per meeting.
12 chapters, therefore 12 meetings plus first meeting and certificate ceremony. 14 meetings in total.
R30 x 14 = R420
3. Exam admin fee for 10 members R100 x 10 = R1 000
4. Gifts for skills demonstrators
Four skills chapters in the book, therefore four gifts needed.
R20 x 4 = R80
5. Airtime for facilitator
14 meetings in total x 10 members x R1.00/sms
R1.00 x 14 x 10 = R140
Total R 3240


The next step is getting people to join your study group. There are many ways of doing this:

It is best to first invite people to an informational meeting where you discuss what the training involves, where it will take place and any costs involved e.g. do group members have to buy their own books? That way, people know what they are getting into before they commit themselves to the group. It would be helpful if at this meeting you describe what group learning is about (discussed in Chapter 1) and emphasise that each group member takes responsibility for their own learning (working through the course book).

First invite interested people to an informational meeting.

Participant requirements

If you require anything specific of your future group members, you must explain this at the first informational meeting. These requirements could be:

Some Bettercare programmes are better suited to some job categories than to others. However, you don’t have to be currently employed to do a Bettercare learning programme.

Anyone can do a Bettercare learning programme.

Group size

Collaborative learning works best in small groups of 5 to 10 members.

This gives every member the opportunity to contribute to the group and share their knowledge, skills and experience. It also allows group members to get to know each other better, encourage each other and support each other in the workplace.

Group learning works best in groups of 5 to 10 members.

Group learning is based on sharing, discussion and teamwork, and this happens more easily in smaller groups.

Group location

It is easier to form a group of participants from the same institution. This way:

If your institution is small and there are not many people in the same job category, you might have to invite people from other clinics or hospitals nearby. The advantage is that they will have different experiences and this can stimulate discussion and help to understand the topic more deeply.

To run the group, you will need to find a venue that everyone can reach easily. You could book one of the staff rooms or offices at your workplace if group sessions are going to be during work hours or directly before or after work hours. Make sure it has enough seating for the members of the group and enough light and fresh air. You could get permission to put relevant posters and charts on the walls to make the space more interesting.

Find a venue that everyone can reach easily.

If your group sessions are after hours, you could meet in a group member’s home. Group members could take turns to host the sessions in their homes. If possible, you could have a roster for providing tea, coffee and biscuits for the group.

Buy books

Did you know? Training and learning can be easier on paper. Buy our books now, or order in bulk at low cost.