Legal Opinion

Introducing the Voluntary Care Professional Register: Enhancing the provision of social care through voluntary registration

Liz Blacklock, , CEO, National Association of Care and Support Workers

Liz Blacklock, CEO, National Association of Care and Support Workers

Advocates in England have long pushed for a register for care professionals, that enhances accountability and professionalism within the sector. Inspired by the successful NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) registration system, a focus group, including prominent organizations like the National Association of Care and Support Workers (NACAS) and the Institute of Health and Social Care Management (IHSCM), is currently working on this transformative initiative.

What’s been happening?

A comprehensive survey has been undertaken to gather insights and perspectives from individuals living with or working in social care. The aim is to understand expectations and preferences of to help shape the register.

Through a social media campaign, 630 care stakeholders responded. People were categorised into one of the following segments:

  • Experts by experience (e.g. service user, family member or friend)
  • Care Manager/Provider
  • Deputy Manager/Team Leader/Carer
  • NHS/Commissioner/Regulator
  • Other Stakeholder

What did the survey tell us?

Is there an appetite for a register?

An overwhelming 85% of respondents thought that, if there was a register available, that people working in care should be encouraged to be on it.

Unsurprisingly, there was almost unanimous support from people who use care and the relatives and friends of those who use care. And findings suggest that care professionals themselves would be receptive to a voluntary care register – with over 80% showing support.

Care professionals were split almost 50/50 regarding whether being on the register should be a condition of employment. This was well supported by those who were using care directly.

Should there be a fee?

Understandable, most respondents were in favour of a small annual registration fee between £10 and £50, with some recommending a monthly charge of £5.

Does language matter?

Rightly so, it’s clear that there is a desire to enhance the professional image of social care with Care Professional and Professional Care Worker being the most desired titles.

What’s being planned and what are the advantages?

The Voluntary Care Professional Register (VCPR), offers numerous benefits to both employers and care professionals, fostering a positive impact on the social care ecosystem.

A key advantage is streamlining the recruitment process, freeing up time typically spent verifying references and conducting DBS checks. This would allow employers to focus on evaluating candidate suitability, ensuring the right fit for their care teams.

Much like the NMC register, it will serve as a powerful symbol of the dedication of a care professional to their field and commitment to maintaining high standards of care provision.

Looking Ahead

The steering group has ambitious plans, with the desire to introduce a training passport system. Revolutionising continuous professional development. This would eliminate redundant mandatory training when changing role or employer, saving time, and reducing training costs.

We all know that the need for care will only continue to grow, and the sector must adapt and evolve to meet future demand. The care register could empower individuals seeking social care support to independently source care professionals, mitigating risks and providing reassurance. Access to the register will inform decisions, engage with quality care professionals, and foster trust in the sector.

In summary

Evidently, there is a strong appetite for a voluntary social care register in England. The initial implementation, backed by investors and sponsors, will be free, ensuring the swift and seamless establishment of this transformative initiative.

The Voluntary Care Professional Register heralds a new era of accountability, professionalism, and recognition within the social care sector. With widespread support from stakeholders and an inclusive approach to address concerns, it will undoubtedly pave the way for a capable and motivated social care workforce, focused on delivering top-notch care to those in need.

For more information on the register or to see the full survey report, please visit the Voluntary Care Professional Register website

Kirsty

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