Zoom v MS Teams: Which is best for Online Training? – by Katy Bennett, MD, Talking Life

Since COVID-19 hit the world, classroom-based training has come to a grinding halt. Gone are the days – at least for the time being – of trainers travelling up and down the country to deliver face-to-face training to organisations and businesses. So what now?

In mid-March 2020 I (and I know I’m not alone in this) had never heard of Zoom – had no idea what it was. Now, as a business we have premium user accounts and train over it every day. It’s being used for virtual training classrooms, meetings, one to ones, training OUR trainers and the occasional quiz! We used to use Skype as a virtual meetings tool, but I can now safely say that I haven’t logged into our Skype account for months (which is good because I don’t think we ever got through one meeting without being cut off).

So what is Zoom? It’s a ‘videotelephony and online chat service through a cloud-based peer-to-peer software platform and its used for teleconferencing, telecommunicating, distance education and social relations’ Essentially, it’s an online meeting platform with some nifty tools that you can use to make your meeting much more interactive as if you were all in the same room. Is it any good? In a word, yes. As I mentioned it’s got some great tools that make the world of a virtual classroom very life-like. For example, the breakout room function allows you to move delegates into virtual rooms where they can discuss and brainstorm ideas. The ‘host’ can move virtually between these rooms and input on delegates’ discussions. The ‘polling’ function allows anonymous polling results to be fed back to the host instantaneously – something you can’t do in an actual classroom! It’s simple and easy to use.

It does have its downsides. Many businesses, including a lot of Talking Life’s customers, have security and privacy issues with it. Zoom say they have resolved this, however a lot of IT Departments are still not allowing its use within their organisations due to this issue.

Which leads us into the other preferred online training tool, part of the Microsoft Empire – MS Teams.

Finding positives regarding MS Teams is hard.  Here are some – it’s a simple yet effective tool and is relatively straight forward to operate. It doesn’t require long repeated training sessions on how to use it, because it is quite simple. Also, a lot of organisations use it on a day to day basis, so from a training point of view, most delegates understand how it works. However, its simplicity is also its downfall. It has many of the same functions as Zoom such as sharing screen, mute, chat, hide video and participants list (and actually has a ‘download participants function – something that Zoom doesn’t have!) However, you can only ever see 8 other videos at the same time and you can’t pick which ones you can see. There is no gallery and speaker view as in Zoom, which is again one of the neat features about Zoom. There are no breakout rooms – though you can do a manual workaround and actually this does work well if set up correctly. Additionally, MS teams has been set up to work as part of peoples’ own organisations and it doesn’t like to mix them. This makes it difficult when setting up training across different organisations – but again, there are some (albeit long winded) fixes that we as an organisation have figured out to make sure that if we have to use MS teams when training, we do it right and it works.  MS Teams has a handy app which is easy to use and can be employed when out of the (home) office. Word from Microsoft is that more video screens and breakout rooms are coming soon so watch this (cyber) space…

In summary, the review is simple. Zoom has been built to run training and MS Teams to run meetings. At present we are delivering our training equally off Zoom and MS Teams and in fact, we have not found that using different platforms has impacted the quality of our training. The great thing is it works, They both work, our feedback is excellent and our customers are really enjoying the learning experience. Will we ever get back to the classroom? We are starting to do so, on a small scale, but in the meantime, whilst classroom based learning is out of favour, this substitute is just as good.










The Coronavirus Act 2020 and the implications for adult social care – by Helena Cava, Talking Life Adult Social Worker Trainer

The Coronavirus (CV) Act 2020 which took legal effect on 31st March, having been produced in a matter of days, has serious implications for those in receipt of, or those yet to access, adult social care support.

The Act introduced Care Act easements, which, in effect, downgrade a number of Care Act duties to powers. This means that the You Must or You Will of a duty become the You May or You Can of a power.  The guidance issued alongside the Act (Care Act easements: guidance for local authorities, updated 1st September, 2020) states that these easements should only be introduced when the workforce is significantly depleted, or demand on social care increased, to an extent when it is no longer reasonably practicable for it to comply with its Care Act duties.

The easements have to be formally adopted and the decision reported to the Department of Health and Social Care.

LAs are not prevented from doing anything they do currently but, where the easements are adopted, that authority is no longer required to do what they normally do.

What the powers actually change:

  1. – Local Authorities will not have to carry out detailed assessments of people’s care and support needs in compliance with pre-amendment Care Act requirements.

There is the power to assess in every case.

  1. – Local Authorities will not have to carry out financial assessments in compliance with pre-amendment Care Act requirements.
  2. – Local Authorities will not have to prepare or review care and support plans in line with the pre-amendment Care Act requirements

If a care and support plan is reviewed, there remains a duty to involve the person concerned.

  1. – The duties on Local Authorities to meet eligible care and support needs, or the support needs of a carer, are replaced with a power to meet needs.


This applies unless the LA considers that the failure to meet needs would result in a breach of a Convention right.  There is the power to meet needs in every case.


There are 4 stages identified, namely:


Stage 1: Operating under the pre-amendment Care Act Business as usual
Stage 2: Applying flexibilities under the pre-amendment Care Act Decision for Individual service type to prioritise short-term allocation of care and support using current flexibilities within the Care Act
Stage 3: Streamlining services under Care Act easements Decision to operate under Care Act easements as laid out by the Coronavirus Act
Stage 4: Prioritisation under Care Act easements Whole system prioritising care and support

Stages 3 and 4 operate under the easements.

The guidance also states that Local authorities will be expected to observe the ethical framework for adult social care (DHSC: Responding to COVID-19, the ethical framework for Adult Social Care – Values and Principles).  This framework provides a structure for local authorities to measure their decisions against and reinforces that the needs and wellbeing of individuals should be central to decision-making. In particular, it should underpin challenging decisions about the prioritisation of resources where they are most needed.

The values and principles are as follows:

  • Respect – This principle is defined as recognising that every person and their human rights, personal choices, safety and dignity matters
  • Reasonableness – This principle is defined as ensuring that decisions are rational, fair, practical, and grounded in appropriate processes, available evidence and a clear justification.
  • Minimising harm – This principle is defined as striving to reduce the amount of physical, psychological, social and economic harm that the outbreak might cause to individuals and communities. In turn, this involves ensuring that individual organisations and society as a whole cope with and recover from it to their best ability.
  • Inclusiveness – This principle is defined as ensuring that people are given a fair opportunity to understand situations, be included in decisions that affect them, and offer their views and challenge. In turn, decisions and actions should aim to minimise inequalities as much as possible.
  • Accountability -This principle is defined as holding people, and ourselves, to account for how and which decisions are made. In turn, this requires being transparent about why decisions are made and who is responsible for making and communicating them.
  • Flexibility – This principle is defined as being responsive, able, and willing to adapt when faced with changed or new circumstances. It is vital that this principle is applied to the health and care workforce and wider sector, to facilitate agile and collaborative working.
  • Proportionality – This principle is defined as providing support that is proportional to needs and abilities of people, communities and staff, and the benefits and risks that are identified through decision-making processes.
  • Community – This principle is defined as a commitment to get through the outbreak together by supporting one another and strengthening our communities to the best of our ability.

Alongside the framework, local authorities should also continue to respect the principles of personalisation and co-production.

Provisions not modified by the CV Act include the well-being duty, the market shaping duty, duties in relation to advocacy and safeguarding duties.

In total, just eight of the 151 English councils with social services responsibility have made use of the easements, and only two of these, Derbyshire and Solihull, have used it to cease meeting needs they were required to meet. (Source: Community Care 6th July).

Of those councils operating the easements, most were operating under stage 3 of the easements by not fulfilling their duties to carry out assessments, reviews or care and support planning.

Specifically, Birmingham said it was streamlining processes under stage 3 of the easements while continuing to provide care and support to people with eligible needs. It said this involved not providing hard copies of assessments or care and support plans to people and limiting choices of providers

Coventry was carrying out less detailed assessments because of the need to carry out virtually all of them remotely, doing less detailed care and support plans and not undertaking scheduled reviews. It said its workforce had not been depleted, nor had demand increased to the extent that it needed to enact stage 4 but, if it had to, it would contact people with lower-level needs to see what the impact of a reduction in care would be.

Warwickshire had developed a streamlined assessment and support planning process, for practitioners to use when they cannot use normal processes, and suspended some scheduled reviews because of the barriers to seeing people due to social distancing

By early July, no council was left suspending its duties.  The Act is due to stay in force for two years, but MPs can vote to remove provisions of the act at six-monthly intervals, with ministers required to oblige. The first such vote should take place this month.  Given the current increase in cases, we may well see more authorities adopt these easements as we head towards winter.

Helena Cava, September, 2020

For further information about Care Act refresher training click here