Personalised care: sector staff need more training and regulation

Personal assistants, carers and staff at small providers must no longer be marginalised in policy on the social care workforce if the government’s vision of individualised care is to succeed, MPs and peers were told yesterday.

The all-party parliamentary group on social care heard that regulations and training policies often excluded these groups, in the final evidence session of its current inquiry into the social care workforce.

Sue Bott, director of service user-led body National Centre for Independent Living, said personal assistants, who support direct payment users, will be a fast-growing workforce, given the government’s promotion of individual budgets.

However, she said they were currently very low paid, given the level of direct payments, had little access to training and were thus unable to demonstrate their skills to new employers, hampering recruitment and retention.

Sian Lockwood, chief executive of the National Association of Adult Placement Services, said the small providers she represented, ranging from lunch clubs to full adult placement services, could also promote personalisation.

But she said NVQs – the benchmark qualification in social care – were often not suitable for staff in small-scale providers as there was often no division between staff and management.

Princess Royal Trust for Carers assistant director Alex Fox said carers also had poor access to training and urged councils to take them into account in their workforce development policies.

The group is due to produce a report next month, which it will present to care services minister Ivan Lewis and junior children’s minister Kevin Brennan.

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