Adult care staff will be expected to possess strong communication skills, a knowledge of Mental Capacity Act responsibilities and the ability to empower service users, under a code of conduct and minimum training standards published today.
The documents, developed by workforce agencies Skills for Care and Skills for Health, also place a strong emphasis on staff taking responsibility for their own professional development.
They apply to adult social care staff in England working in residential, home or day care, supported living or as personal assistants employed directly by service users, as well as healthcare support workers and assistant practitioners. It does not apply to social work assistants.
‘The minimum any worker should know’
The code and standards, commissioned by the Department of Health, define “the minimum any worker should know”, said Skills for Care chief executive Sharon Allen.
The training standards cover 10 areas including communication, duty of care, safeguarding, person-centred care and personal development.
Staff should know what it means to have a duty of care in their role, but must also be aware of “potential dilemmas that may arise between the duty of care and an individual’s rights”, and be aware of what they must and must not do within their role to manage such conflicts.
Capacity and risk assessments
Staff should also understand possible signs of cognitive issues in people with whom they work and “understand when assessments of capacity need to be made and used in accordance with legislation and agreed ways of working”.
They should also know how to help individuals make informed choices about their lives and understand how risk assessment processes can be used to support people’s right to make their own decisions.
Staff should also produce their own personal development plan, know where to get support for their personal development and understand how to measure their knowledge and performance against relevant standards.
Code of conduct
The code of conduct requires staff to meet seven standards on being accountable for their practice, promoting the dignity and rights of service users, working in collaboration with colleagues, communication, respecting confidentiality, continuing professional development and promoting equality and diversity.
Specific requirements include:
- Reporting any acts or omissions by yourself or colleagues that may compromise the safety of care of service users, if necessary using whistleblowing procedures to report wrongdoing;
- Telling your superviser or employer if you do not feel able or adequately prepared to do any part of your job;
- Always acting in the best interests of people who use services, as defined by the Mental Capacity Act 2005;
- Always explaining and discussing the care, support or procedure you intend to carry out with the person and only continuing if they give valid consent;
- Only discussing or disclosing information about people who use health and care services and their carers in accordance with legislation and agreed ways of working;
- Participating in continuing professional development to achieve the competence required for your role;
The Care Quality Commission’s assessment of registered providers’ staffing and training will include how far staff are compliant with the code and minimum training standards. The Health and Care Professions Council is also developing a proposal for a “negative register”, which could see staff found to have made significant breaches of the code barred from working in the sector.