The inclusion equation

There can be no doubt of the importance of striving to raise
professional standards in social care, build public confidence and
ensure that those who pose a risk to the public are kept out of the

It is equally important to ensure social care retains its position
as the most inclusive of the professions, and builds on its history
to ensure that the brave, new, regulated, checked, measured and
monitored world of social care is open to the widest possible range
of individuals. Because only then can it serve the full range of

There is not necessarily any contradiction between these two aims.
But there are signs this week that the profession needs to make
conscious steps to ensure that the former does not overwhelm the

The withdrawal of a job offer to a student with previous
convictions seems to imply over-zealous interpretation of National
Care Standards Commission regulations.

Meanwhile, there are indications that the voluntary sector has
exacerbated the problems at the Criminal Records Bureau by asking
for enhanced checks when they are not necessary. And there is yet
more evidence – this time from Greater London Action on Disability
– that social care, and the mental health system in particular,
fails to involve service users, particularly those from ethnic

Service users need an inclusive profession. Furthermore, a
profession that has difficulty attracting sufficient recruits is
unwise to close its doors to people who could have much to

The belated recognition that standards must be raised and risks
reduced runs the risk of introducing a simplistic “when in doubt,
keep them out” notion. Regulation, standard-setting and checks
should be a safety net which allows the profession to expand and
change without fear. They must not themselves pander to or even
create a climate of fear which excludes people the profession

Strengthening a profession doesn’t necessarily mean turning it into
a fortress.

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