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The health and social care sector is essential in society for maintaining the overall well-being of individuals and communities, addressing healthcare needs, and promoting a healthier society overall. People who work in the sector are responsible for helping people in society who need specialised assistance in order to live comfortable, healthy and fulfilling lives.
Services aim to provide care and protect society’s most vulnerable, and this includes children, young people, adults or the elderly. It includes a broad range of services and a variety of organisations, professionals and institutions who work together to provide healthcare and support services.
Some examples of health and social care workers include:
- Social workers.
- Occupational therapists.
- Support workers.
- Childcare workers.
It is essential that health and social care workers are held to a certain standard and provide good quality care across the board, and without exception. Providing good quality care is fundamental to promoting health and well-being, maintaining professional standards, and ensuring the best possible outcomes for patients and service users.
Around 1.5 million people worked in the adult social care sector in England in 2021/22. The adult social care sector has faced a number of longstanding workforce challenges, which can impact on the availability and quality of care received by people who use the services. The total number of posts in adult social care in England, including filled posts and staff vacancies, was 1.79 million as of 2021/22. This was 0.3% higher than in 2020/21. It is estimated that there are currently 165,000 vacant posts in the care sector. The number of vacant posts has increased by 55,000, or 52%, since 2020/21.
The Government has taken several actions to encourage the recruitment and retention of social care staff. This includes national recruitment campaigns and providing workforce recruitment and retention funding over the 2021/22 winter. In December 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) published a White Paper on wider plans for social care reform.
The Care Certificate is important as it places a responsibility on employers to ensure that health and social care workers are adhering to certain standards, and that people can expect to receive good quality care, without exception.
What is the Care Certificate?
The Care Certificate is an agreed set of standards that define the knowledge, skills and behaviours expected of people working in specific job roles within the health and social care sector. They are expected to adhere to the standards at all times in their daily working life. It is designed to give people the confidence that these workers have the same introductory skills and knowledge in order for them to be able to provide high-quality care and support, in a safe and compassionate way.
The Care Certificate is specifically designed with the non-regulated workforce in mind, as regulated workers, for example Doctors, Nurses, Social Workers and Occupational Therapists, will automatically gain similar skills and knowledge within their professional training. They therefore do not also need to achieve the Care Certificate in addition to their training.
The Care Certificate:
- Applies across health and social care.
- Covers what is required to be caring.
- Links to competencies in the National Occupational Standards.
- Will equip workers with the knowledge and skills they need to provide good quality care.
- Gives a basis from where they can further develop their knowledge and skills as their career progresses.
Who does the Care Certificate apply to?
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) now expect all health and social care employers to provide the Care Certificate. It is designed for new staff, but it also acts as a useful refresher for existing staff.
You will be expected to complete the Care Certificate if:
- You are new to care.
- You are currently employed as an adult social care worker.
- You provide direct care in a residential home, nursing home or hospice or you are a home care worker.
Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulated providers have a duty to assess the training needs of all staff who are new to their organisation. This applies to agency, bank and temporary workers or directly recruited healthcare support and care workers. The responsibility for the training and quality of service provided by a temporary worker rests with the regulated provider, rather than with the recruitment agency.
It is acknowledged that if you are not new to care, there may be elements of transferable knowledge. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that your knowledge is current and for them to arrange any additional training that you, as the worker, may require.
The Care Certificate network is a national forum available to all health and social care colleagues. It provides opportunities for colleagues to engage with others across the sector, receive national updates on the Care Certificate and share good practice with each other. You can email email@example.com if you would like to subscribe and join the mailing list.
What are the standards in the Care Certificate?
The Care Certificate is made up of 15 minimum standards. These should form part of a robust induction programme if you are new to care.
The 15 minimum standards are:
- Understand your role – no matter what job you do, it is important to understand your role but this is especially important in health and social care. This standard focuses on ensuring that you fully understand your duties and responsibilities in the workplace. It also goes into some detail about relationships in the workplace and how to work effectively in a team, or with colleagues on a one to one. You will be expected to explain how your previous experiences, attitudes and beliefs may affect the way you work.
- Your personal development – in this section you will create a personal development plan and focus on the importance of continuing your professional development. This is an ongoing process throughout your career as there will always be new things to learn and your ongoing experiences will shape your learning and professional development. You should understand why feedback from others is important in helping to develop and improve the way that you work. You should have a good understanding of why continuing your professional development is important.
- Duty of care – in this section you will learn about your professional duty of care. If you work in health and social care, you have a legal obligation to provide a reasonable standard of care. You will also learn about what to do in difficult situations, how they may arise and how these should be dealt with. This section will also cover the importance of learning from comments and complaints to improve the quality of service.
- Equality and diversity – this section focuses on the importance of equality and inclusion and how to work in an inclusive way. This includes actively reducing the likelihood of discrimination in the workplace. After completing this section, you should be able to explain how practices that support equality and inclusion reduce the likelihood of discrimination occurring. You should also be able to identify which legislation and codes of practice relating to equality, diversity and discrimination apply to your own role. You should also be able to describe how to challenge discrimination in a way that encourages positive change.
- Work in a person-centred way – this section focuses on how to work with an individual in a respectful way, promote dignity and reduce the causes of distress. It also looks at how to minimise pain and discomfort while maintaining self-esteem. Person-centred care places importance on working collaboratively with the people who use your services and helping them to make informed decisions about their own health and care. It is also important to understand professional boundaries and maintain these at all times. You will be asked to describe how to put person-centred values into practice in your day-to-day work and describe why it is important to work in a way that promotes person-centred values when providing support to individuals. You should also be able to explain the importance of supporting individuals to plan for their future well-being and fulfilment, including end-of-life care.
- Communication – clear communication is vital in order to work effectively in health and social care. This section is designed to teach you about both verbal and non-verbal communication in a health and social care setting. It will explore how to promote positive communication and the legislation surrounding communication. You should be able to list a range of communication methods and styles that could help meet an individual’s communication needs, wishes and preferences. You should be able to explore the barriers to effective communication, and describe the ways to reduce these barriers. In this section, you will also be expected to understand the principles of confidentiality and describe situations where information, usually considered to be confidential, might need to be shared, for example if there is a safeguarding concern. You should also be able to list any legislation and agreed ways of working to maintain confidentiality in day-to-day communication.
- Privacy and dignity – it is vital as a health and social care worker that you understand the importance of privacy and dignity. You may be responsible for providing personal care and the person you are caring for may not be able to communicate effectively; however, this does not mean that privacy and dignity is any less important. As a caregiver, it is your responsibility to promote dignity and respect the privacy of the person receiving the care. To complete this standard, you will be expected to fully understand privacy and care and talk about it in various different situations.
- Fluids and nutrition – preparing and serving food and drinks is likely to be a part of your role as a caregiver. Food safety and hygiene in care homes is vital as care home residents are usually extremely vulnerable and unsafe food practices can be detrimental to their health and safety. You will learn in this section about food safety and the importance of hydration and nutrition while also ensuring that this is in line with the person’s individual care plan.
- Awareness of mental health, dementia and learning disabilities – in this standard, you will be expected to understand and describe the needs and experiences of people with different mental health conditions, dementia and learning disabilities. The standard will explore what is meant by someone having capacity and will highlight why it is important to assume that someone has capacity unless there is evidence that they do not. Positive attitudes, legislation and the meaning of mental capacity will also be a theme in this standard. You will be expected to be able to explain why early detection of mental health needs, dementia or learning disability is important. You should have an understanding of how positive attitudes towards those with mental health conditions, dementia or learning disabilities will improve the care and support that they receive.
- Safeguarding adults – in this section, you will learn about harm and abuse of adults who are at risk. You will understand how to reduce the likelihood of harm and abuse from taking place and how to respond to suspected or disclosed abuse. You will also become familiar with and understand legislation regarding safeguarding adults.
- Safeguarding children – this section is brief as people working with children have to meet a separate set of training standards for safeguarding children. If you work in adult social care, you will still be expected to understand the basics of what you would be expected to do if you have any safeguarding concerns about a child. If you work in health, you will be expected to meet the most up-to-date national minimum training standards for Safeguarding Children at Level 1 as set out in the guidance issued by the Intercollegiate Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. If you work in social care, you should be able to explain what you should do if you suspect a child or young person is being abused or neglected.
- Basic life support – in this section, you will undertake training in adult or paediatric life support, depending on the area of care you are working in. When working in health and social care you will be expected to have a basic level of life support.
- Health and safety – this section is very detailed as health and safety is an important part of delivering quality care. There are many areas to cover, including risk assessments, accidents and sudden illness, fire safety and hazardous substances.
- Handling information – there is important legislation around the recording, storing and sharing of information. You should understand how to keep up-to-date, accurate, complete and legible records and how to store them safely. You should understand why it is important to have secure systems for recording, storing and sharing information. There is a legal duty on care settings to protect the information kept and processed. Everyone who deals with personal data should follow specific rules; these are referred to as data protection principles. Each care setting that handles information should have a code of practice outlining the roles, responsibilities and processes undertaken in their particular setting for information handling, so that staff follow confidentiality policies.
- Infection prevention and control – you should have a thorough understanding of how to prevent and control infection. This includes how infection can get into the body, when to use protective clothing, effective hand hygiene and safe handling of materials. This section also covers personal health and hygiene.
How often should the Care Certificate be done?
The Care Certificate should be provided by your employer as part of your induction. How and when the Care Certificate is completed is up to the discretion of your employer, so it might not happen straight away. It should take around 12 weeks to complete; however, this will also depend upon the number of hours you work, the teaching method, as well as your previous education and experience. If someone has already achieved qualifications in health and social care, employers should ensure that any skills and knowledge are current and can use the Mapping Document and Self-Assessment Tool to identify gaps or refreshers required in skills and knowledge. Employers can then arrange any additional training for any gaps in knowledge or experience if this is needed. In some cases, the employee would still need to complete the Care Certificate.
There is no specific requirement for how often the Care Certificate should be completed. Once a worker completes the Care Certificate and meets all of the necessary standards, they are considered to have achieved it. You will not be expected to repeat the entire process periodically; however, ongoing training may be required. Individual employers or organisations may have their own policies regarding continuing professional development or ongoing training requirements.