Nine out of ten members of the general public believe regulation
and registration of the social care workforce will deliver higher
standards and improve public protection, according to a new survey
conducted on behalf of the General Social Care Council,
writes Ruth Winchester.
More than a thousand people took part in the NOP research, of
whom just seven per cent were opposed to regulation of the
But only forty per cent thought social workers played a “very
important” role in society, compared to 56 per cent for care
workers, and more than 80 per cent for police, nurses, teachers and
doctors – all regulated professions.
The results of the poll will give the GSCC a benchmark by which
to gauge the impact of the new national social care register and
code of conduct on the way the general public perceive the
profession. One of the body’s key aims is to promote
awareness of, and respect for, the social care workforce.
But with an estimated 1.2 million social care staff in England
alone, the GSCC is presiding over potentially the biggest workforce
register in Europe. The official launch of the register next month
is likely to be the start of a very long process.
The GSCC admitted that the scale of the task was vast, but a
spokesperson denied claims that it would take two decades. She said
that the GSCCs target of 5000 registrations per month should mean
that all 80,000 qualified social workers were registered within the
next 18 months. After that a steady rate of around 60,000 new
registrations would be expected each year.
“The process is starting with qualified social workers because
they are likely to be those with most direct access to vulnerable
people,” the spokesperson added. “Within two years, we expect
Protection of Title to be introduced which will mean that only
those registered would be able to practise and call themselves
social workers. Once we’ve done qualified social workers,
we’re going to move on to social work students, then managers
and owners of care homes, and staff in residential children’s
“Clearly this process could take years, but it is important to
remember that every member of the workforce is now required to
abide by the code of practice for workers, introduced last
September. The register will build up incrementally, focusing on
those with positions of caring responsibility, and every
registration is a step forward in improving standards and public
protection and the reputation of the sector.”