Welsh regulator challenges ‘negative register’ for social care

The Care Council for Wales says list of barred individuals will not boost standards

The Care Council for Wales has opposed replacing its register of social care staff with a list of people deemed unsuitable to work in the field.

In its response to the Welsh Government’s white paper on the future of social care regulation in Wales, the care council warned that moving to a negative register model – whereby care staff are only listed if they breach certain standards – would fail to drive up standards and provide false reassurances.

“A negative register potentially provides a false assurance due to the likelihood that the thresholds for listings would be high, as is perceived to be the case with the Disclosure and Barring Service,” said the care council in its response.

It added that a negative register would not lead to improvements in standards and that it would result in the regulator losing registration income while still incurring the cost of investigating individual conduct.

Instead, the care council would like to see the extension of formal workforce regulation to home care and care home workers, who are currently not covered by its register, though it suggested this may be limited to staff in publicly-funded services. Currently the care council regulates social workers, home care and care home managers and residential child care staff.

This is in contrast to the situation in England, where there are no proposals to extend formal workforce regulation beyond social workers, and the Department of Health has rejected the case for a negative register in England, proposed by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). This followed questions raised by the Professional Standards Authority, which oversees the HCPC, about how effective a negative register would be in weeding out unsuitable staff from the workforce.

In its response, the care council also urged the Welsh Assembly to enhance its role rather than create a brand new regulator, and proposed a governance model where the public, practitioners and other stakeholders each make up one third of the board.

“The care council supports the principle of the government establishing a national organisation to address future service and workforce challenges, but believes the best option would be for the care council to take on additional functions, rather than creating a completely new body,” said the Care Council for Wales’s chief executive Rhian Huws Williams.

“We feel there is a strong case, supported by many in the sector, for the care council brand to be retained. This would ensure our organisation’s authority and reputation, built up over the past 12 years, could be retained and built upon.

“Such a move would reduce any risk of potential disengagement with our work as a regulatory body.”

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