Valuing and supporting the social care workforce is already a priority for Welsh Government and for us all working in the social care arena. But it should be a priority for everyone, as it is fundamental to helping protect, empower and support children and adults facing difficulties in their lives.
We are all likely to know someone who needs care and support, and many of us will depend upon good care in later life or if we experience a life changing event, such as illness or accident.
The NHS relies on good social care to support patients when they are discharged from hospital, and to keep people well at home and avoid unplanned visits to A&E.
The ethos of good social care practice is to safeguard those who are at risk of harm and to help people live the life that matters to them. This needs practitioners who are highly skilled in understanding the context of family and community situations, and assessing risks while leaving the person in control of their care and support decisions.
Each person will have their own strengths and unique situation. Social care workers need the knowledge and skills about what works in different situations and how best to work in partnership with people to provide good care and support.
How do we make sure those who are entrusted to provide protection, care and support are equipped and supported in Wales? We achieve this through good employment practice and regulation.
Social Care Wales is the regulator for the social care workforce and we hold a register of people who work in the sector. We already register and regulate social workers, residential child care workers and social care managers, and will register domiciliary care workers from 2018.
Domiciliary care workers are at the front line, supporting people in their own homes so they are able to increase or sustain their independence – even when their needs are complex – as most people want to remain at home for as long as possible.
Regulating domiciliary care workers means they will:
- follow the Code of Professional Practice for Social Care
- have the knowledge and skills (including qualifications) needed
- are physically and mentally fit to practise, and have the character and competence to practise.
There are lots of benefits to registration and regulation, including:
- protecting people’s rights and making sure they are listened to
- supporting people to be independent and protect themselves
- evidence-based practice is developed and understood
- people having confidence in the workforce
- the public know they can rely on registered social care workers
- recognising workers have the necessary values, skills and knowledge
- workers taking responsibility for continuously developing their knowledge and skills
- employers can provide the support and development needed.
Social Care Wales will make sure the right training and qualifications are available, and our regulatory role enables us to support good practice in social care.
Where we are told about poor practice, we will aim to work with people so they can improve. If this is not possible – if a worker is not ‘fit to practise’ – they can be removed from the register, which means they would not be able to work as a registered social care worker.
This provides public assurance that registered workers have shown they have the right knowledge and skills, and that Social Care Wales will investigate any referrals about a registered worker’s fitness to practise.