UK

New care workers will have to earn certificate

  • 3 May 2014
  • From the section UK
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New care workers will have to earn a training certificate within 12 weeks of starting a job, the BBC has learned.

The scheme comes in from March 2015 in England for staff including assistants in hospitals, care homes and those who look after people in their own homes.

Topics will include infection control, dementia care and patient dignity.

This follows an independent review, in the wake of the Stafford Hospital Scandal, which highlighted inconsistencies in training.

Care minister Norman Lamb said it was "essential that we drive up standards", adding: "There's lots of great care out there but there are too many cases of care falling down."

And he confirmed the responsibility for the certificate would "rest with employers and I think that's where the training responsibility should lie".

Across England, there are more than a million care workers, many of whom look after vulnerable and elderly people in their own homes or in residential care.

Last year's independent review, written by Times journalist and associate editor Camilla Cavendish, looked at training and support given to care workers and healthcare assistants.

It found some care workers were doing tasks usually performed by doctors or nurses, such as taking blood, despite no "compulsory or consistent" training.

Dr Shereen Hussein, an expert in social care at King's College London, welcomed the introduction of "a consistent certificate".

"However, if that is relying on what has been delivered in individual providers and the standards are not being accredited or assured, maybe that will not mean much," she told BBC One's Breakfast.

"My concern would be, yes it's great to have a consistent and portable certificate that ensures a minimum standard, but then we need something in place to assure that it is delivered at that higher standard and that it is portable between providers."

'Huge difference'

David Pearson, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, told Breakfast: "There are currently common induction standards for social care.

"One of the things that this provision does is actually makes this consistent across health and social care.

"There are an increasing number of older people and younger adults with more complex needs."

He said the certificate would make "a huge difference to the quality of care that people receive".

"I do accept the point that what we must make sure is that this is applied consistently across the service, across health and social care."

He added: "It's very important that we invest in the training of care workers as has been evidenced by the Panorama programme."

Seven staff have been sacked and another suspended at The Old Deanery care home at Bocking, near Braintree, after a BBC Panorama programme about alleged abuse there.

A woman in her 40s has been arrested on suspicion of assault by police investigating the allegations.

Images shot undercover showed one resident being slapped and others taunted and roughly handled.

The home said it was "shocked and saddened by the allegations", which had involved a "small number of staff".

Norman Lamb told Breakfast that when he became care minister he was "horrified to discover that actually there is no effective requirement for people to have a compulsory minimum standard of training and competence".

He added: "When we responded to the Francis inquiry on mid-Staffordshire that's what the government committed to and we got the Cavendish report to come up with the way forward."

He said the government was "testing at the moment, through pilots of this, how to quality assure, how to ensure that the training is of a good standard and that those entering the caring profession reach a level of competence that we can all be satisfied with".

"We're introducing much more robust inspection regimes for care homes and other care providers.

"And indeed we're introducing ratings of care homes so that everyone will know what the standard of their local care services are like."

Equivalent training

Camilla Cavendish's review called for workers in England to be given at least two weeks' training to prepare them for providing basic care in hospitals, care homes and for patients in their homes.

Ms Cavendish said healthcare assistants should have to earn a "certificate of fundamental care".

She called for all new recruits to obtain the certificate and for existing healthcare assistants to prove they had the equivalent training.

The government also promised to establish "minimum training standards" for healthcare assistants by spring this year.

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