In Wales, home care workers will have to register from 2020 and this will extend to care home staff from 2022. In Scotland registration is compulsory from September and Northern Ireland have similar plans to introduce a register. In England, care workers do not have to join a register and there is no plan to set up a register. Currently home managers and managers of home care services, but not care workers, have to register with CQC. This register keeps details of their fitness to practice and CQC can take civil action to remove a managers registration.
In 2019 a large national home care provider in England set up a petition to gain MP’s support for a register in England. The purpose is stated as, to protect people who use care services. This has not yet produced any action or debate in parliament.
The vast majority of care workers are kind, caring and dedicated, many genuinely love the people they care for like their own family. However, like in any sphere of work, there is a minority of staff who either enter this line of work to have access to vulnerable people or who for many reasons take opportunities to cause harm or just fail to provide care and are neglectful. There are also some relatively new ways harm can be caused to vulnerable people, this includes the use of social media. There have been cases of care workers filming abuse or posting inappropriate pictures of people without consent.
Staff who cause harm often leave prior to the completion of an investigation or are dismissed. Many police investigations fail to end in prosecutions due to a lack of evidence. We know many organisations are reluctant to give contextual references and often just give a start and end date and perhaps a sickness record.
In my experience, I have been aware of many occasions when individual care workers have been at the best, less than caring and at worst abusive but not been prosecuted and are then free to find work in other care settings. There is basically nothing to stop this happening. Staff effectively disappear with no record of previous wrongdoing. Certainly, during my time with CQC, the same names cropped up sometimes in different homes. There was nothing CQC, managers or providers could do to ensure people were protected from a minority of staff who had harmed people because there was no official route they could go down.
A register would enable basic checks regarding fitness to practice but also professionalise the care workforce. It would enable a national standard to be set for training. Staff deserve this investment in their support and training and to recognise the care workforce as important and valued. It would also enable providers and managers to check the register when employing new staff to determine that they remain fit to practice.
If you think that a register of social care workers should be formed and maintained then please do sign the petition or petition your own MP. The link to the petition can be found below.
If you would like support to investigate any matter regarding staff actions or conduct not only in order to protect people but also to demonstrate compliance then please do contact Fulcrum Care Limited.