National regulators in Scotland and Wales want to start registering domiciliary care workers as soon as possible to raise standards and ensure the safety of service users.
The Scottish Social Services Council believes tighter regulation is required for Scotland’s care at home workers because of the unsupervised nature of their work with vulnerable people.
Meanwhile a report by the Care Council for Wales concluded that registering the estimated 15,500 care at home workers in Wales would professionalise the workforce.
In an interview with Community Care, Annie Fowlie, chief executive of the SSSC, said domiciliary workers should be included alongside the next groups of workers to be registered in Scotland: housing support managers, housing support workers and care at home managers.
“If you think about where these people work – with vulnerable people in their homes, unsupervised – it makes you wonder why there is more of a requirement to register people working supervised in residential establishments,” she said.
However, she admitted this was a “principled view” and not necessarily pragmatic. The combined care at home and housing support workforce in Scotland totals around 63,000, she said.
“Even for us that would be difficult,” said Fowlie. “We couldn’t do it within our current resources.”
In response to the calls, a spokesperson for the Scottish government said it was only committed to registering managers of care at home services from early next year, while a Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said ministers would consider the report when deciding which groups should be registered next.
Plans for the General Social Care Council to introduce a national registration scheme for domiciliary workers in England were put on hold by the Department of Health in October last year, after serious problems in the GSCC’s conduct system were identified.
The UK Home Care Association, which represents 1,850 providers, supports registration as long as individual workers are not expected to pick up the bill.
“[Registration] shouldn’t be a tax on somebody wanting to come and work in the sector,” said Colin Angel, head of policy and communication at the association.
Angel added that a vetting and barring scheme, due to be launched in Scotland this November, might remove the need for further registration processes.
In England, the government announced in June that it was halting plans to open its own Vetting and Barring Scheme to voluntary registration on 26 July.
The General Social Care Council, which currently registers only qualified social workers, said it was “too early to gauge the impact” of these changes on the current system of registration.
A spokesperson for the GSCC said: “We are pleased that the new government has committed to exploring a more risk-based model of registration for social care workers, some of whom work in unsupervised settings with vulnerable people.
“We will share with them the work we have done in this area.”