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To register or not… Is that the question?

To register or not… Is that the question?The Daily Express is today (15 July 2019) leading with a headline about the untrained social care workforce. For those of you who haven’t seen it yet – the front page splash relays: Fear as millions of OAPs at risk from carers with no training

The story has arisen from open evidence provided at the APPG that is looking specifically at the professionalisation of the social care workforce.  The evidence provided at the APPG came from a number of sources, including sessions directly with care staff, trade bodies, unions and more.

The more detailed press report that was sent out earlier today highlighted evidence provided by NACAS, the professional body for care workers, which was very specifically aimed at highlighting the shortfalls of a system that did not require the registration and regulation of a care workforce.

It is of note that England now stands on its own in its absence of a coherent approach to regulation of the social care workforce within the UK. The Scottish social care workforce has been regulated for a number of years, and the regulation is carried out by the Scottish Social Services Council. The final tranche of regulation is coming into play at the end of this year, with all home care and supported housing staff having to register by the 13th December. Wales introduced a system more recently and is administered by Social Care Wales. Again they are in the final throes of bringing staff on board, with domiciliary care workers needing to register by April 2020, Northern Ireland includes the partial registration of the workforce – with the Northern Ireland Social Care Council focusing on the regulation of managers in care homes and domiciliary settings.

We know that as things stand, we are very limited in our strategic focus on the social care workforce. We are losing ground in comparison to the work that is being delivered around the Interim NHS People Plan for the health workforce. Whilst that work continues apace, without a comparative focus on social care staff, our opportunities to take advantage of national and localised approaches to developing a truly integrated workforce reduce. The APPG report that has triggered this headlined is due out in September and will offer further insight. However, the majority of the issues are well known – and oft relayed. We are urgently in need of a detailed approach to workforce that will take forward a vision for social care workforce that will meet current needs, and the needs of the future.

The real story to be told is about how we shift the value and focus around social care so that people entering into the workforce feel that they are recognised and supported. However, from the media perspective, we also need to understand the implications of these stories on people who are currently making decisions about whether or not to access care. Sadly, those picking up on the headline may be left in fear of those who might come offering support, rather than feeling empowered to engage with quality care and support when they need it.

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