Choices Housing is a leading not-for-profit care organization based in Newcastle-under-Lyme (in the UK). They provide a range of care and support services, specializing in dementia nursing care, residential learning disability care, over-55s retirement living and supported living for individuals with care conditions.

The Challenge

Choices’ main requirement was the management of employee training data and compliance with their ‘care certificate’. They were using a system that was essentially just a spreadsheet database on a Windows 98 program.

Only one training team member was able to access the system at any time, with no reporting feature for teams. Reporting was only available for individuals, and these reports would then need to be combined to create a team report.

Other challenges included:

  • Possible double-booking of learners or training rooms
  • Manually creating and emailing 300-500 training certificates each month
  • Manually updating training registers and records
  • Every handout for a course was printed and given to each learner
  • Monthly reporting would take roughly 3 days to create and check whether it was correct.

In short, management of training was a very manual process, leading to a high chance for errors.

The Solution

Totara met the requirements of Choices at various levels:

Care Certificate Dashboard in Totara

Training Team

For the training team, Totara Learn really was a breath of fresh air. All members of the team can now access the system concurrently, enabling each team member to make updates instantly. Besides that, the platform is cloud based, allowing training team members to work remotely, while still being able to access the platform. Totara Learn also gave the team greater oversight of compliance across the business, meaning they could react much quicker to any areas of concern.

From a time-saving perspective, Totara has given the training team more time to focus on the way in which training is delivered. The team is no longer manually creating and emailing 300-500 certificates each month, it is all automatically generated via the Totara platform. Monthly reporting also became much less time intensive, with the ‘measures report’ being created via the built-in report wizard, rather than a manual combination of various reports.

Internally, Choices Housing has a ‘Digital 2020’ initiative where each department must take every step possible to becoming digital by the end of 2020. The Totara platform met those requirements on a variety of levels:

  • Training mentors can offer remote support to learners at any time
  • Online resources are available for every course
  • Ability to ‘take attendance’ online
  • Care certificate delivered electronically:
    • Receive submissions
    • Assess and provide feedback
    • Notifications when work is uploaded
    • Live reporting
Example of pre-built reports in Totara

Managers and Learners

From a manager’s perspective, the Totara platform has transformed the way they engage with their teams’ training. They can now see their teams’ training in real-time and they are able to take greater ownership. Managers can access attendance reports, including the reasons for absences, as well as be able to suggest ‘rebook’ dates.

Attendance Report in Totara

Learners have found the move to Totara massively refreshing. They now have access to a ‘recertification area’ which informs them of when learning is due to expire, and therefore book onto refresher courses. Learners also receive automated notifications of their bookings, reminding them of when and where they need to attend training. The major benefit of the Totara platform has been access to all learning resources online, furthering their ability to remind themselves of previous learning.

In-line with Choices Housing’s Digital 2020 policy, learners have now been able to experience the organizations first ever “online-only” course, covering the topic of Cyber Awareness.

Future Goals

Choices Housing chose to take a staggered approach when moving to a digital method of learning. There are still many activities in the pipeline for the Totara platform:

  • Care Certificate workbooks will be changing from large 20-page documents to a mobile-friendly ‘quiz’
  • The Training department is set to be the first Choices department to achieve “Digital 2020” status
  • All policies will become electronic documents to adapt a ‘magazine-style’ layout:
    • Potential to include a multiple-choice quiz at the end, instead of a simple confirmation of reading
  • Looking to add a “latest news” section to the LMS homepage

Badges and awards to be introduced to enable inter-service competitions, and celebrations of achievements.

The Results

The impact of the Totara platform has been quite remarkable. It has enabled a variety of improvements, as well as cost and environmental savings.

Freedom To Learn

Prior to the platform being implemented, absences from face-to-face training sessions were high, standing at 594 absences between January and September 2018. The following year, with help from the Totara platform, absences have dropped by 64.64% and now stand at 210 for the same period.

Flexibility of learning has also been harnessed, with Choices Housing delivering their first ever ‘online-only’ course. This has allowed learners to complete some learning on their own time, within the comfort of their own homes.

Compliance with Cyber Awareness ‘online-only’ course

Freedom To Save

Since implementing the Totara platform, a range of savings has been made within the organisation:


There were many efficiencies achieved through the implementation of an LMS; however, the efficiency of creating monthly “measure reports” stands out the most. A monthly task that previously took three days, can now be completed within half a day, reducing the time spent by 83%.

To put that savings in perspective, the training team will save themselves roughly 30 days’ worth of work time.


As previously mentioned, prior to the platform being implemented, Choices Housing saw 594 absences from face-to-face sessions. The cost of re-running the courses for absences equated to £20,716.87.

Now that the platform has been implemented and is being used, the number of absences has dropped dramatically to 210. The cost of re-running sessions for these absences was £8,547.75, meaning a cost savings of £12,169.12 has been achieved, which is a reduction of 59%.


Due to the fact that course resources are now available online, there has been a dramatic reduction in the amount of printing required at Choices Housing. The statistics below are based on 180 new starters at Choices Housing:

  • Paper – 17,820 sheets – £59.52
  • Plastic Wallet – 1,800 – £21.06
  • Plastic File – 180 – £14.40
  • Colour Ink – 17,820 pages of colour ink – £891.00
  • TOTAL – £985.98

“I can’t begin to tell you what a difference the LMS has made to us!

It’s freed up time previously spent manually writing reports at the end of each month, figuring out compliance rates and tracking new starters.

Now it’s just a click of a button and the reports are ready!

Our learners are really engaged in the process and taking more responsibility with their own learning. The access to handouts is really helpful, especially for those with particular learning needs.

We’re really excited to hear your plans to get policies and procedures on the system which will streamline our role even further. “

Vicky Thrasher, Registered Manager, Choices Housing