The General Social Care Council’s about-turn on the next groups of
registered workers is welcome. Domiciliary care workers are now top
of the priority list rather than mid-table. There they join other
client-facing staff working in residential child care and
residential family centres, as well as social care managers, in the
front rank of those to be registered.
The focus on front-line workers is in keeping with the current
emphasis on protecting vulnerable people more effectively. It will
be another bulwark against abuse to sit alongside the
government-administered lists of individuals who, for one reason or
another, have shown themselves to be unsuitable to work with
children or vulnerable adults.
Not surprisingly, the charity Action on Elder Abuse has pronounced
itself “delighted” with the initiative in a week when it revealed
that one-third of calls to its helpline concerned abuse by paid
Most of the abuse identified in the same survey occurred in care
homes for older people and it is a pity that it was not possible to
fast-track workers in this area on to the register as well.
However, the GSCC will have a big enough challenge hitting the
target it has already set itself, given the difficulties it has had
registering qualified social workers, all of whom have to be on the
register by next April. By 23 November 14,000 registration
applications were still awaited, with no guarantee that any
received after 1 December could be processed in time for the April
deadline, even with the Rugby processing centre working flat out.
The GSCC will have to be more efficient next time round, yet it is
faced with a larger, more diffuse, harder-to-reach group of staff.
It will need to enlist the support of employers from the outset
because they are best placed to motivate their staff to join up.
The wrangling in the first round of registration over whether
employers or employees were going to pay the fee must be avoided.
And the care council will have to think carefully about the
qualifications required to register, given a largely unqualified
workforce, and pay more attention to post-registration training and
learning than it has done in the case of qualified social workers.
These challenges are considerable, but the GSCC must prove itself
equal to the task if it is eventually going to oversee a workforce
of 1.4 million.