Proposals to help transform standards of care and raise the status of the social care workforce in Wales have been published.
They are set out in a consultation, Transforming care in the 21st century, from Social Care Wales, the new national organisation responsible for leading improvement in care.
The proposals are in-line with the Welsh Government’s recognition that social care is of national strategic importance.
The proposed changes will underpin the five-year strategic plan for Social Care Wales, which will aim to achieve:
- for the public: confidence that workers have the right skills; clarity about the standards they should expect and information about care services
- for employers of care staff: a national campaign to attract new recruits; workforce planning to meet future needs; resources to help staff work to a high standard and training for priority areas like care and support at home, dementia and children in care
- for care staff: a career structure; high-quality training to help their development and career; access to resources to help in their day-to-day work; greater public understanding of the complex work they do and higher status as part of a regulated profession.
The consultation proposals mean:
- all home care workers, who have to register with Social Care Wales between 2018 and 2020, will be supported to gain suitable qualifications within their first three years of registration. A large proportion of workers already have the right qualifications
- fees paid by those already on the Register of Social Care Workers will increase for the first time in more than 10 years, in a phased approach over the next four years
- an updated code of professional practice for employers of care staff, which will provide additional protection for care staff and those people who rely on them
- rule changes to allow serious concerns about workers’ fitness to practise to be referred directly to a committee hearing.
Sue Evans, Chief Executive of Social Care Wales, said: “The majority of Wales’s 70,000 social care workforce will be regulated by us within the next five years. That will be a major step forward in raising standards of care and support in Wales and gaining public confidence in the skills of those who work in social care. We firmly believe regulation should be used in a positive way to bring about higher standards of care, and we will support the workforce to continuously improve the work they do.
“In the meantime, we want to support employers to attract the right people of all ages to work in care, who are able to meet the challenges of the next decade and beyond. This includes helping people help themselves, keeping them safe and providing more complex care, as we all live longer and want to remain in our own homes.
“As we register more people to work in care, it will be increasingly important that they have the right qualifications and support from their employers. We recognise that the home care sector in particular is currently facing many pressures and we don’t want to add to the challenges it already has.
"We want to play a supportive role in making the workforce more skilled and qualified with better career prospects. This is something we plan to achieve over the longer term. Our proposed qualifications for home care workers and the code of practice for social care employers will help us meet these aims and support the transformation of care in Wales so that we have a social care workforce that is big enough, skilled enough and confident in the way it works.”
The consultation, Transforming care in the 21st century, is open for 12 weeks and you have until 5pm on 16 October 2017 to have your say.