Vetting plan to give care staff professional status

All care workers looking after vulnerable patients may soon require compulsory registration, after the government ordered a clearer vetting process for staff working in the sector.

Care services minister, Liam Byrne, has asked the General Social Care Council to start looking at the process, which would see the UK’s 750,000 care workers trained, vetted and registered for the first time.

“Registration will provide clarity,” he said. “It will enable older people and their families to have complete confidence in the people who care for them, or their loved ones. Registration is about public safety. It will allow us to train our care workers to look after our vulnerable people properly.”

He explained that compulsory registration may not happen for some time, but said that consultation had already begun.

“We want the people who take care of England to have the same status in society as doctors and nurses and lawyers. They will be professional people, with professional standards and the corresponding duties and responsibilities that go with being a professional,” he added.

Andrea Rowe, chief executive of Skills for Care, the sector’s workforce development body, has backed the move, which is also designed to promote workforce professionalism.

“The registration of social care workers will help to eliminate abuse and malpractice in care environments. It will also help to raise the status of social care as a professional career, and give a sense of belonging to care staff, who can often feel isolated,” she said.

The move comes as the sector’s workforce is set to expand with more than 4,000 people starting the new social care degree in 2004, and 40,000 calling the social care recruitment hotline in 2005.

The registration process may also raise awareness of what carers actually do – a factor cited by employers as a key barrier to finding new staff.

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