How Pancare Foundation Delivers Essential Onboarding Training to Its Volunteers With Open LMS
The Pancare Foundation is an Australian charity focused on improving lives and outcomes for people impacted by upper gastrointestinal (GI) cancers. This low-profile group includes pancreatic, liver, stomach, biliary, and esophageal cancers. In addition to raising awareness and lobbying governments, Pancare delivers vital support services to patients and their families and funds a diverse portfolio of research projects to improve future patient outcomes.
As a non-profit, Pancare offers a range of educational collateral and support services to patients, families, and the wider public, and covers diagnosis, treatment options, health, and wellbeing topics. Education about these topics can be life-saving—GI cancers often go undiagnosed in their early stages and have correspondingly low survival rates. It also operates patient and carer support groups, and dedicated support teams, who in turn require the best possible resources to ensure staff and volunteers approach interactions with compassion and expertise.
The Background: Building a Legacy for an Esteemed Colleague
The story of Open LMS’s partnership with Pancare Foundation begins with eCreators, the Australia-based Moodle™ content development business Open LMS acquired in October 2020. Most importantly, it also begins with HR manager Leanne Drummy, a long-serving eCreators employee who sadly passed away in February 2020 after living with stomach cancer. Shortly after her passing, Open LMS Senior Director of Sales, Liam Liddicoat, coincidentally met Doug Hawkins, CEO of Pancare, at a networking event. The two immediately saw an opportunity to deliver essential resources for others in Leanne’s position.
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The Challenge: A Time-Inefficient But Indispensable Process
Volunteers are a huge part of Pancare Foundation operations, with over 300 individuals providing hundreds of hours of work in communities across Australia annually. In order to ensure that individuals are fully equipped to help service users, they must first complete Pancare’s volunteer onboarding program before they’re allowed to volunteer.
Historically, this program has been delivered by Pancare’s Head of Operations, Bernie Muscat. However, delivering the program is just one of several major responsibilities she has, alongside HR, IT, compliance, and administrative procedures. This meant that in periods of high volunteer intake, the Head of Operations was having to work extra hours to develop and deliver sessions.
A new solution was needed—one that would free up valuable time while being a good fit for Pancare’s diverse and dispersed pool of volunteers. Pancare had found it difficult to coordinate session timing with volunteers in other states—particularly Western Australia, which has a three-hour time difference versus Victoria during the summer. The mixed technical abilities of the volunteers, who are anywhere between 18 to 80 years old, were also a consideration.
“The training is really important because our volunteers are on the front line. They attend events and it's really important that they know the statistics and our services, and are trained to deliver this information with both confidence and sensitivity. They bring their own knowledge and compassion—around 95% of them have been impacted by these cancers via friends or family members, or by being a patient themselves. But thanks to the onboarding program, when people ask our volunteers questions, we’re confident that they’re fully informed about both the foundation and the cancers”
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The Solution: Providing Robust Onboarding Training With Greater Convenience for Trainers and Volunteers
After further meetings with the Pancare team to discuss how and where they could help, Open LMS proposed a pro-bono partnership. It would provide its open-source, non-profit learning management system, allowing for the delivery of a range of new eLearning courses. Implemented in August 2022, these onboarding materials give volunteers the flexibility to complete the training at any time that suits them while testing their knowledge and ensuring they feel prepared to attend events and help users of Pancare’s services.
Meanwhile, Pancare has been able to move on from its live onboarding programs, freeing the Head of Operations up for other tasks while still ensuring visibility on course access and completions via a clear and concise column graph using Open LMS’s Report Builder feature.
Course development was a collaborative effort. The course content was written by the Head of Operations in order to provide accurate, subject matter expert-informed insight, and this content was placed into a clean, visually-engaging layout by Open LMS. The content, and by extension, the volunteers that use it must deliver information in a way that is both compassionate and useful. All parties were sensitive to the fact that the statistics around GI cancers make for difficult reading. For example, pancreatic cancer is projected to be the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Australia by 2030, and just 11.5% of patients reach the five-year survival mark.
Consequently, Open LMS and Pancare agreed to a light-touch approach to interactive elements, mindful that some of its less technically adept volunteers may find the courses more challenging to navigate. Nevertheless, more intuitive elements such as drag-and-drop lists were included to help aid attention retention.
Pancare has additionally created a separate onboarding course for its employees. Pancare leverages Open LMS Work’s multi-tenancy capabilities in order to maintain entirely independent curriculums for its volunteer and employee populations—user data is kept safely separate, volunteers aren’t shown employee courses, and vice-versa.
“Honestly, both eCreators and Open LMS have been so amazing. Even now I still go back to the LMS support team and they’re always happy to help. They answer my questions straight away. They send me notes on how to fix something or to do something in the system if I'm not sure. They know that I highly respect them and it's been an absolute pleasure working with them. I think this is just the very beginning of our relationship”
The Results: A “Wow”-Worthy Program
In the first year of operation, Pancare Foundation’s revitalized onboarding program has been completed by around 110 volunteers, with another 70 or so registered to do the training in the future. The separate track for Pancare employees has also been completed by 91% of those who have started the course. Feedback from volunteers has been highly positive, focusing on the ease of use and overall high quality of the learning materials. The program has also been favorably compared with volunteer experiences at other foundations. Volunteers indicate that because the content is easy to understand and digest, it helps them feel confident and comfortable when speaking to the public.
Open LMS will continue to implement changes to the courses as the information around Pancare and the cancers it covers evolves.
“I've had many volunteers come back and say, “wow”. They’d volunteered previously for Pancare, before we’d put in our new process and materials, and some have also interacted with other volunteer programs in other foundations. And they’ve been totally blown away by the professionalism and the quality of the training”