Behind the headlines

From next year qualified social workers will be required to
register with the General Social Care Council and the three other
regulatory social care councils in the UK, signing up to the new
codes of practice for workers and employers.

Over a 10-year period, all 1.2 million social care staff will be
brought into the care councils. The code for workers sets out
standards of professional conduct and practice, while the code for
employers requires them to support staff in meeting these

All four councils will use the same codes, which include 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 blow the whistle if
they think the delivery of safe care is compromised. Staff will be
required to comply with the codes as part of the National Care
Standards Commission’s inspection processes and enforcement of the
national minimum standards. Bob Hudson, principal research fellow,
Nuffield Institute for Health, University of Leeds

“This is an important and overdue measure, though the slow pace of
implementation is disappointing. However, social work should not
become preoccupied with matters of intra-professional status and
standards. The debate is moving on from the pursuit of professional
status towards the delivery of care and treatment on a
multi-professional basis. It is vital that this shift is reflected
in the standards across social work, nursing and medicine.”

Felicity Collier, chief executive, Baaf Adoption and

“It is essential for social workers to have a framework of
‘conduct’ that properly explains to the public what they can expect
when they come into contact with a social care professional. It is
a pity that the code is mandatory for social workers and advisory
for employers. Social workers need to be creative, challenging and
innovative in addressing the complex needs of their clients and
they need the support of their employers to do so. Too many social
workers feel unsupported in their professional values and
commitments by the organisations they work for. The code will only
deliver when social workers feel respected by and valued for the
particular qualities they bring to this most demanding of

Phil Frampton, national chairperson, Care Leavers

“The establishment of codes of practice are well and good, but
where is the funding to deliver the practices? If the government
pumped £10bn a year more into social care front-line services,
service users might start to think that the government had sincere

Martin Green, chief executive, Counsel and Care for the

“I welcome the development of the codes of practice and think that
they should form the first phase in what needs to be a series of
measures to improve the status of social care workers. For too long
social care workers have been denied the status of professionals,
despite the fact that the work they do in supporting vulnerable
people is one of the cornerstones of the care system. However, the
codes need to be accompanied by the other measures of professional
status, including proper remuneration and a career

Karen Warwick, senior practitioner,

“At last, this is a significant move along the road to
professionalisation. Social work should be a profession and there
should be responsibilities on employers and employees in respect of
a code of practice. From what I have seen of the code, any good
social worker should be able to work to it without feeling that
they are having to take on additional responsibilities in the

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