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Introduction

Contents

About Bettercare

Bettercare is a South African independent, registered Non-Profit and Public Benefit Organisation. Our aim is to create accessible educational resources that improve the quality of healthcare in even the most challenging circumstances.

Bettercare learning courses ensure that all healthcare professionals have access to high-quality, affordable and up-to-date training in every facility, regardless of its history, resources or geographical location. Additions and changes are informed by evidence-based literature and national protocols as well as ongoing feedback from healthcare workers, educators and participants; findings on new and better methods of diagnosing and treating patients and the latest developments in child, perinatal and HIV care.

Bettercare learning courses grew out of the ongoing work of the Perinatal Education Programme (PEP). PEP began in 1989 when a small team of paediatricians, obstetricians and nurses came together to develop a consensus document on best practice care for mothers and infants. The PEP method of self-directed, decentralised learning has been tested in controlled studies and proven to improve knowledge, attitudes, skills and patient care practices in health professionals.

Why decentralised learning?

Continuing education for health professionals traditionally consists of courses and workshops run by formal trainers at large central hospitals. These courses are expensive, often far away from the health professionals’ families and places of work, and the content frequently fails to address the biggest healthcare challenges of poor, rural communities.

PEP developed the self-help, decentralised learning method in response to these problems and to address the needs of all professional healthcare workers, especially those in under-resourced regions. Working closely with PEP, all Bettercare learning courses follow this basic, proven learning methodology.

A learning course is the curriculum and study material you need to run a course, all in one book. Whether you lead a study group or manage formal training, Bettercare learning courses make your job simpler and easier. We provide the learning material, you run the course. You can implement Bettercare learning courses in your institution right now. There is no need to wait for acceptance to a centralised training programme.

Each chapter of a Bettercare learning course contains the most relevant and up-to-date information health professionals rely on to provide excellent and appropriate care to their patients. Learning material is presented in a question-and-answer format. Each chapter has a multiple-choice quiz consisting of 10 to 20 questions. Participants do the quiz beforehand then study a chapter to identify gaps in knowledge. Afterwards they repeat the quiz to gauge their learning at the end of each chapter. By marking their own quizzes participants monitor their progress through the course.

Participants study one chapter at a time on their own and then meet colleagues in a study group to discuss what they have learned. The formation of study groups encourages co-operative learning where colleagues share their knowledge and understanding. While the role of a facilitator can be useful, a formal teacher is not needed.

Bettercare learning courses have helped thousands of nurses, midwives, doctors and students increase their knowledge, boost their confidence, and improve patient care.

Free Bettercare Online Learning Station

The Bettercare Learning Station is a free, simple and can be used on tablets, computers or smart phones. The material on the Learning Station is always the most up-to-date, and includes all the learning courses’ full content and the multiple-choice quizzes for each chapter.

Students using Bettercare books can benefit from video clips addressing diag­nosis and management which are attached to some of the chapters on the website.

By registering on the Learning Station, students can also complete the multiple-choice chapter quizzes. Registering is free, quick and only requires a cellphone number or email address and a password. On completing each quiz, users receive their results and advice on where they may have gone wrong.

This methodology allows users control over their studies without feeling as though they are being watched. The Bettercare Learning Station privacy policy includes the clause that only information which users have agreed to make available may be used to generate reports.

You can access the learning station here: https://bettercare.co.za/learn/

Learning programmes

Child and Adolescent Care for Community Health Workers

Child and Adolescent Care for Community Health Workers addresses the important topics of growth and nutrition, HIV and tuberculosis in children, and adolescent care. Community health workers are helped to screen for normal growth and promote a good diet. They also support good medication adherence. Common problems during adolescence are discussed. Community health workers bring care to the home and form a vital link between the community and local clinics.

COVID-19 Guide for Community Health Workers

It is essential that everyone learns about COVID-19 and how it is spread. Community health workers can use COVID-19 Guide for Community Health Workers to learn how to educate community members on COVID-19, diagnose, manage and prevent the spread of the virus and, importantly, protect themselves from COVID-19. Community health workers play an important role in slowing the spread of infections within their communities and reducing the stigma towards people who are ill with or have recovered from COVID-19.

Empathetic Care: A guide for community health workers

By providing care as community health workers, we show people they are not alone, and that we want them to be healthy and happy. Empathetic Care: A guide for community health workers offers insight into providing care with kindness, empathy and compassion. It includes information about empathic communication, self-care and using empathy and kindness to help others.

Immunisations: A guide for community health workers

Immunisations: A guide for community health workers introduces the principles and benefits of immunisation, commonly used vaccines in the immunisation schedule, storage of vaccines, and risks of immunisation. Community health workers play a major role in ensuring that all children are fully immunised.

Mental Health and Wellbeing: A guide for community health workers

Many people with mental health conditions can be helped within the community, using very simple treatments. Community health workers can use Mental Health and Wellbeing: A guide for community health workers to learn how to promote mental health, understand who is at risk, identify the signs and symptoms of common mental health conditions and help themselves and others work towards mental wellbeing.

Mother and Baby Care for Community Health Workers

Mother and Baby Care for Community Health Workers explains how community health workers can help care for mothers and their newborn babies. It includes information about exclusive breastfeeding and HIV in mothers and babies. As trusted on-the-ground support to community members, community health workers expand access to essential healthcare information as well as available treatment and prevention programmes.

Format of the courses

Objectives

The learning objectives are clearly stated at the start of each chapter. They help the participant to identify and understand the important lessons to be learned.

Pre- and post-quizzes

There is a multiple-choice quiz of 10 to 20 questions for each chapter at the end of the book. Participants are encouraged to take a pre-quiz before starting each chapter, to benchmark their current knowledge, and a post-quiz after each chapter, to assess what they have learned. Participants are provided with the correct answers so that they can mark their quizzes. Self-assessment allows participants to monitor their own progress through the course.

Question-and-answer format

Theoretical knowledge is presented in a question-and-answer format, which encourages the learner to actively participate in the learning process. In this way, the participant is led step by step through the definitions, causes, diagnosis, prevention, dangers and management of a particular problem.

Participants should cover the answer for a few minutes with a piece of paper while thinking about the correct reply to each question. This method helps learning.

Each question is identified with the number of the chapter, followed by the number of the question, e.g. 5-23.

Case studies

Each chapter closes with a few case studies which encourage the participant to consolidate and apply what was learned in the chapter. These studies give the participant an opportunity to see the problem as it usually presents itself in the clinic or hospital and integrate their new theoretical knowledge into practice. The participant should attempt to answer each question in the case study before reading the correct answer.

Practical skills

Some Bettercare books include workshops on skills that need to be practised, preferably in groups. These skills workshops list essential equipment and present step-by-step instructions on how to perform each task, often with pictures. If participants are not familiar with a practical skill, they should ask an appropriate medical or nursing colleague to demonstrate the clinical skill to them. In this way, senior personnel are encouraged to share their skills with their colleagues. Some of the skills are demonstrated in video clips on the Learning Station.

Bettercare quizzes and examinations

Self-evaluation is the most important part of learning. For every chapter, participants take a short self-quiz before and after studying each chapter. This way participants can see their knowledge improve and can address specific weaknesses.

Quizzes are included in all our printed books and ebooks. Participants can also take them for free on our website.

Bettercare also offers a final examination for each course. Participants need to achieve at least 80% in the final examination to receive a digital certificate stating that they have successfully completed the learning course.

Updating the course material

Bettercare learning programmes are regularly updated to keep up with developments and changes in healthcare protocols. Course participants can make important contributions to the continual improvement of Bettercare books by reporting factual or language errors, by identifying sections that are difficult to understand, and by suggesting additions or improvements to the contents. Details of alternative or better forms of management would be particularly appreciated. Please send any comments or suggestions to the Editor-in-Chief, Professor David Woods.

Contact information

Bettercare

Perinatal Education Programme

Exams

Support

Please contact us if you would like to know which learning programmes are available in print, ebook or online format. A list is available on www.bettercare.co.za/learning-programmes.

For information on learning programmes pending funding for development, publication and addition to the free online Learning Station, please email us at info@bettercare.co.za.

Registration

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