A campaign has been launched to raise the "disappointing" status of registered care managers to ensure they are regarded as "recognised professionals" on a par with doctors, nurses and social workers.
Backed by four organisations including the Social Care Association and the National Skills Academy for Social Care, the group said managers of care homes and domiciliary services had to be recognised as the lead professional in their own care environment to help raise care standards.
The group has written to care services minister Paul Burstow looking for backing for a three-pronged approach to overcoming the government's rejection of mandatory registration for social care staff in England.
This involves setting up a support body for registered managers, building on best practice networking and learning as well as looking to key national bodies such as the National Skills Academy for Social Care to ensure a national approach is adopted.
This comes against a background of managers feeling overwhelmed by bureaucracy and administration.
At a recent SCA conference on the role of the manager key problems that were discussed included a lack of funding and a growing concern with safeguarding due to the emphasis on risk profiling and risk management.
Debbie Sorkin, the academy's engagement director, said: "This has meant that people have lost confidence in their judgement and rely on systems, but the problem is you are left high and dry when a new problem occurs.
"Leadership is needed at all levels in the sector, particularly in the person of the care home manager."
Des Kelly, executive director of the National Care Forum, said he still thought that a professional register would help raise the profile and status of managers, despite the government having ruled out compulsory registration of social care staff in England earlier this year. He added there is also a pay issue as the salaries of registered managers rarely "lines up alongside social workers".
In the letter the group said: "Validation of the role at the highest level will mean that registered managers will be better able to influence policy and strategic planning."
It added: "In the emerging environment in which GPs and other professionals may lead the commissioning of health and social care services, it is critically important that registered managers have the credibility and confidence to contribute within that local debate.
"They need to have a clear role in relation to safeguarding, to be able to make decisions and champion the needs of service users. They must be seen as professionals and not in a subordinate role to the many outside organisations with which they have to interact. Their input should be valued because of the skills and expertise that they can bring."
The Association of Care Managers is also backing the campaign.
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Care home managers swamped by bureaucracy