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New requirement to involve service users and carers in social work education

Service users and carers have an 'important contribution' to make to public protection, says the regulator of social workers in England.

Credit: Etienne Ansotte/Rex Features
Credit: Etienne Ansotte/Rex Features

All social work education providers in England will have to involve service users and carers in their approved programmes from 2015, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) has confirmed.

Nine out of 10 respondents to the HCPC’s consultation on whether to include the requirement in its standards of education and training said yes. 

There were 297 responses in total from across the 16 professions the HCPC regulates, roughly half from individuals and half from organisations, including education providers and service user groups.

The HCPC said the new requirement would send out a “strong message” that service users and carers have an important contribution to make to public protection.

Regulatory requirements for service user involvement had existed in social work in England before the HCPC took over from the General Social Care Council last year.

Many social work education providers used the HCPC’s consultation as an opportunity to point out the importance of ensuring there was adequate funding and resourcing for service user and carer involvement.

But the HCPC has decided against adding a specific requirement about this in the revised guidance, leaving room for providers to meet the standard in different ways.

“We need to strike a balance between providing sufficient guidance and avoiding inadvertent prescription or duplicating guidance which is available elsewhere,” it said.

The requirement will apply to transitionally approved social work programmes and any new programmes from the 2014-15 academic year and to all other approved programmes from 2015-16.

The newly-developed criteria for approving Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) programmes will include a similar requirement from the 2013-2014 academic year.

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