Pay and conditions are crucial to the government’s attempts to professionalise England’s 300,000 home care workers through registration, a sector leader has said.
Les Clarke, director of older people’s services at Housing 21, said ministers needed to "face up to the truth" that imposing skills and knowledge requirements would not raise standards unless remuneration was improved.
"You cannot expect people who are so poorly paid to engage in independent professional development," said Clarke, whose organisation employs 5,200 staff in domiciliary and other types of care.
"Some people working in social care have only basic numeracy and literacy."
Registration put on hold
Registration for home care workers was due to be rolled out on a voluntary basis through the General Social Care Council next year, before becoming compulsory later.
However, the Department of Health confirmed this month it had been postponed to allow time for the GSCC to strengthen its conduct function - the latest in a series of delays.
Licence to practise
In an interview with Community Care last week at the National Children and Adult Services confernce in Harrogate, Glen Mason, director of social care leadership and performance at the DH, said the government remained committed to registration and was now considering a licensing scheme, having ruled out the statutory regulation model that applies to social workers.
Under the scheme, workers would apply for a licence to practise, which would be renewed on a regular basis.
"We want the scheme to be the least burdensome in achieving our objective of public protection and raising quality," he said, adding that there was "no timescale" for the next steps towards achieving national registration.
Mason said more detailed discussions about how the model would work had been put on hold after problems in the GSCC’s conduct system came to light earlier this year. The care council's chief executive, Mike Wardle, remains suspended from his post after the discovery earlier this year of a backlog of more then 200 unprocessed referrals involving social workers accused of misconduct.
Clarke said the repeated delays in the project was causing “confusion and frustration for providers, who have to predict when these additional costs are going to have to be met”, adding that the “handling of this has just been spectacularly inept”.
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