Many people are familiar with the role of regulatory bodies, such as the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which ensure doctors, nurses and midwives are fit to practise across the UK.
The social care workforce in Wales is regulated by Social Care Wales and we are planning to extend our register to include domiciliary care workers from 2018.
Registration with a workforce regulator provides public assurance that people who carry out these roles have the right values, knowledge and skills to provide a quality response, which is based upon the best available evidence.
There are also many service regulators who make sure that public services are delivering to the expected standards. For example, Estyn inspects schools in Wales to make sure our children are receiving the best education in suitable venues. The Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) regulates social care service provision, provided by a wide range of statutory, independent and third sector agencies.
Service regulators and workforce regulators work closely together, so that learning and new ways of working can be developed by gathering the intelligence from poor practice or poor service provision.
It is worth noting that a very small percentage of the health and care workforce are referred to regulators, due to concerns about their fitness to practise. The vast majority of practitioners are providing excellent care and support across Wales.
The Welsh Government establishes the legislation that determines the regulatory framework in Wales and they have recently published new regulations relating to domiciliary care service provision.
This will supplement the new qualification requirements that Social Care Wales will require by 2020, so that the quality and consistency of domiciliary care can be continuously improved.
The new service regulations require that domiciliary care staff must be offered an alternative to zero-hour contracts after three months and that services maintain systems that differentiate between travel and care time when scheduling visits. The aim of these new regulations is to help address ‘call clipping’ where visits are cut short because of poorly set rotas.
It is hoped that a combination of better working conditions and recognition of the value of the domiciliary care workforce will attract new entrants to the profession and help retain staff for longer periods, so that quality is improved for those who rely on care and support.
On behalf of the nation, I would like to use this opportunity to thank all those who have chosen a career in domiciliary care and to commend the work you do every day.
This article first appeared in the Western Mail on 1 January 2018