Social care workers who provide care and support for people in their own homes will need to be registered in order to work in Northern Ireland.
Twelve thousand domiciliary and day care staff are set to join the 18,000 residential care, nursing home and children’s home staff who are already on the Northern Ireland Social Care Council’s (NISCC) register. It was made compulsory for the residential part of the sector from January 2014.
Once the process is completed – currently planned for December 2016 – the region will be the only part of the UK to register its whole social care workforce. Its 5,500 social workers are on a separate NISCC register.
The plans were announced at an adult safeguarding event by Northern Ireland’s health minister Simon Hamilton:
“Social care workers provide care and support for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Many work unsupervised in people’s homes. Registration will give greater confidence and assurance to service users, their families and the wider public that those entrusted to provide this care suitable and safe to do so.”
Members of the public can report concerns about a social care worker’s conduct to the NISCC. Since 2011, when registration was phased in for residential care staff, 60 workers have faced suspension or removal from the register following conduct hearings.
Training and learning
Care workers will need to write a plan outlining the 90 hours of training and learning they will undertake in the five year registration period, and review this once a year with their manager.
This could include mandatory training such as health and safety or manual handling and on-the-job training.
An NISCC spokesperson said the council recognised social care workers may find it difficult to be released to attend formal training and had developed free mobile apps such as the domiciliary care toolkit for workers to update their knowledge.
She said registration would be staged over the next 18 months until December 2016 which would allow the NISCC to work closely with the sector and provide support for employers and new applicants.
Registration fees for social care workers are currently £25; this will rise to £30 after April 2016.