Social care took a huge step towards becoming a recognised
profession this week with the publication of codes of practice for
all workers and employers.
Workers will have to abide by the codes or face being struck off or
suspended from a new professional register.
Registration of qualified social workers will begin next year, but
it will take 10 years to include all the estimated 1.2 million
social care staff in the UK. The annual registration fee is
expected to be between £20 and £30.
Dick Clough, chief executive of the Social Care Association, said:
“This is one of the most important steps in making social care a
profession. It is a vital part of regaining public confidence in
The four regulatory social care councils in the UK have agreed to
use the same codes of practice, although each will operate its own
register and regulatory system.
The code for workers is described as a “list of statements that
describe the standards of professional conduct and practice
required of social care workers as they go about their daily
It includes rules on the rights of users and carers, protecting
service users, upholding the public trust and confidence in social
care and taking responsibility for maintaining and improving their
own knowledge and skills.
Both codes protect the rights of workers to whistle-blow on
resource and operational difficulties that obstruct the delivery of
“These codes set a clear benchmark,” said Dr Jeremy Harbison,
chairperson of the Northern Ireland Social Care Council, on behalf
of the four national councils. “They build on the sound, shared
values of the profession and, coupled with registration, they will
raise standards and increase public protection.”
Owen Davies, national officer for social services for Unison, said
the final codes had addressed the public sector union’s concerns
that the draft version had placed too many responsibilities on
individual workers rather than employers.
Employers must defer to the codes when making decisions about staff
conduct. The four national social care councils will set up conduct
committees to consider serious breaches of the codes of
The National Care Standards Commission will require all staff and
managers to comply with the codes as part of its inspection and
enforcement of the national minimum standards.
Mike Leadbetter, president of the Association of Directors of
Social Services, said the codes would improve the status and morale
of social care staff.