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Why the Voluntary Care Professional Register is so important for Carers like me

Andrew Milbank, Carer, Tinkers Hatch – Specialist Learning Disability Care Home, Healthfield  

Have you heard about the Voluntary Care Professional Register (VCPR)?  It’s being created exclusively for Professional Carers and Support Workers to stand proudly alongside other professional bodies. It also means Professional Carers can access a dedicated and exclusive platform to display their array of experience and qualifications to potential employers.

I have been a Professional Carer for over 14 years, and currently work at Tinkers Hatch, a learning disability supported living home in East Sussex.  I am also a volunteer Director at the National Association of Care and Support Workers (NACAS). From doing both these roles, it’s been really encouraging to listen to the groundswell of enthusiasm generated when I mention to Carers all over England about the Voluntary Care Professional Register (VCPR) and the opportunities it will create for thousands of Professional Carers.

There’s a widespread feeling of being very undervalued , and not really looked upon as properly qualified, competent, or recognised for the work that we do and the serious responsibilities that comes with the job.

We had originally asked another Professional Carer to contribute to this article. The individual was very enthused by what the opportunities the register will give to Professional Carers, but had to cancel at the last minute because he was scared to lose his job. This sense of powerlessness and vulnerability, whether true or not, is nothing new and makes this Register even more necessary.

We have Registers for care professionals in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, with many of our colleagues in those nations telling us how it makes them feel valued as professionals, so it makes sense for England to have one too.  It’s good to see that VCPR and the work of organisations like NACAS go a long way to promoting Care Professionals.

Exclusive is not a word you normally see associated with this profession.  You’re much more likely to listen to accounts of negligent, dishonest or poor performing so-called Professional Carers being exposed in the media. I don’t, however, believe that you only want to hear about people who diminish the reputation of Social Care. I’m sure you want to see professional structures in place that highlight the great work that goes on.

Establishing an exclusive portal, which showcases Professional Carers, is exactly the positive message that needs to happen so we can counteract the negative outpourings that almost drown out the voices of the dedicated and compassionate.

During Covid, I spoke to many Carer friends in the UK. A worrying number of them didn’t get paid a full wage if they were off sick with Covid. It’s extraordinary to think that it was made so hard for people to Care for the vulnerable when they were already worried sick about their finances. When the government did finally react, it was too little, too late.

Given how many £ billions the government injected during the pandemic, why were sick Care Professionals not thought about and financially helped sooner?  There were many good Care Providers that did their very best to help Carers, but they couldn’t stretch their finances to breaking point, while waiting for the promised extra support. It must have really added to the recruitment and retention problem we already had.  If we’d had a Volunteer Register already, it would have been a good way for Carers collectively to put pressure on the government to see sense.

I think overall it will very much be in the public interest for initially a highly reputable VCPR, progressing into a mandatory register to be created in the future, so that professionalism of Carers will be shown on a platform where they can feel special and not sidelined

Kirsty

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