Care support staff will have to obtain a certificate before working unsupervised, confirms health minister

The government has accepted Camilla Cavendish’s recommendation to develop a certificate of fundamental care for healthcare assistants and care support workers, says Earl Howe

Unregistered care support workers will soon have to obtain a “care certificate” to show they have completed basic training before they are allowed to work unsupervised, the government has announced.

Health minister Earl Howe has revealed that Health Education England (HEE) will lead work on developing a certificate of fundamental care, as recommended by Camilla Cavendish in her review of regulation and training in the sector earlier this year.

Speaking to the House of Lords yesterday ahead of the government’s formal response to the Cavendish Review, Howe said: “Our goal in introducing the care certificate is to ensure that healthcare assistants and social care support workers receive high-quality induction in the fundamentals of caring.

“This should ensure that they understand the skills required and that they demonstrate the behaviours needed to deliver compassionate care.”

Howe said he had pushed “incredibly hard” to make this announcement now rather than waiting for the formal response to the review, because he recognised the strength of feeling on the issue.

He said it was too early to know what the care certificate would look like, but said it would build on the national minimum training standards published by Skills for Care and Skills for Health in March, as Cavendish recommended.


Responding to Howe’s announcement, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath suggested that the development of a care certificate meant regulation of the workforce was “inevitable”.

“There is no way away from the fact that, once you have a certificate like this, there will have to be a list or a register and people will have to be evaluated,” he said.

Howe disagreed. “We must bear in mind that statutory regulation is not just about training: it is a much broader process and we do not currently view it as appropriate or proportionate for healthcare assistants and social care workers.”

He did accept, however, that the government would have to think about the “mechanisms which would allow, in appropriate cases, the withdrawal of a certificate where an individual had been found wanting in their caring skills”.

The government will work with the Care Quality Commission to incorporate into its guidance the requirement for staff to hold a care certificate.

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7 Responses to Care support staff will have to obtain a certificate before working unsupervised, confirms health minister

  1. Alex Knapp October 23, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    Why is this news worthy? This has been the case since 2005 in social care, aka Common Induction Standards!

    Perhaps it is news worthy because it now includes Healthcare Assistants?

  2. Bob Smith October 23, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    Did somebody say Common Induction Standards?

    • Alex Knapp October 24, 2013 at 9:35 am #

      Nice one Bob – spot on!

  3. Roselyn Thompson October 23, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

    It is wonderful that the Health Minister Mr Howe comment on training for new care support worker. I also believing that these staff should get adequate training prior to take on such intimate job as caring for others. Children services have brilliant safeguarding and excellent law around to protect them ( The Children Act 1989 updated in 2010) yet many professionals do not apply the law appropriately to the best interest of children and young people. Adult and older people have no such law to protect them from harm, except the Mental Capacity Act that many social care professionals do not know when to apply it in the interest go the service users. What really needed in Health and Social Care Services is better model of communication, join up working and appropriate training.

    • Alex Knapp October 24, 2013 at 9:35 am #

      Roselyn, it is not training that makes a difference to the people we support.

      It is the PRACTICE of the people providing support!

      It is time to change the rhetoric from training to learning. Learning is what people can apply in their role…

      Training is just a method for facilitating learning!

  4. Eddie Stevens October 24, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    Surely this is what the requirement for all staff to be assessed as competent against the Common Induction Standards it designed to achieve.

    The failure is not with the principle or process but the implementation and regulation. Simply reworking the process and adding a certificate to the end of the process is neither going to make it effective or change the outcome for the vulnerable people that receive the care and support.

    All Nurses are registered and yet you just have to read the Francis report to see that isn’t going to guarantee safety. Thank goodness the revised CQC approach and strategy is starting with the outcomes for the people who receive care and checking competency not certificates.

    Imagine the benefit if all the money that is going to go into this programme was invested in supporting CQC to implement their new strategy. We need eyes and ears to evaluate quality of care and create the correct culture of openness, honesty and transparency; not more tick box exercises!

  5. Samson October 29, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    I am working a dissertation paper on what UK may learn as regard to elderly care from other OECD countries and bumped into this article. As a person who has previously worked as a care assistant and support worker I always sort of laugh when I see the offical recommendations to improve care in residential settings. They always forget the carers( staff) side of issues. staff are working in emotionally challenging situations : short staffed , underpaid and with little or no support and supervision from their employers. Bear in mind this createrures ( care staff) have their own needs and livlihood issues to worry about. Hence, as to me talking about training and compassionate care without involving frontline carers/staff and recognising their efforts would only be a simple rehetoric.One can do series of reviews but would be futile if they donot take in to account the whole picture of the situation. NB.Care homes that are owned by a corporate entities with a tesco like ethos wouldnot entertain in any ways serious issues like this.