The Care Certificate and workforce optimisation

Christina PondChristina Pond, executive director for core contracts and policy at Skills for Health, considers the importance of the new Care Certificate and the role it plays within workforces. 

Earlier this year the Care Certificate was introduced for all new healthcare assistants and social care support workers. It sets out the introductory skills, knowledge and behaviours required to provide patients with safe, effective and compassionate care. 

To achieve the Care Certificate, staff in health and care roles must demonstrate that they meet all of the 15 standards. These include: caring with privacy and dignity, awareness of mental health (including dementia and learning difficulties), safeguarding, communication, and infection control. By practically assessing each of these areas, health and social care employers can be assured that their workforce meets the standards, and delivers an optimum quality of care.

Its launch represents the beginning of a new era in the training and skills development of the health and social care support workforce. The Care Certificate builds on current National Occupational Standards (NOS) developed by Skills for Health. NOS are used to underpin consistency and transferability of learning and accreditation and provide a framework for workforce development and progression. 

Since its release on 1 April 2015, the Care Certificate has been very well received. The support workforce, though providing much of the care to patients, has historically often received limited training for the role that they undertake. But now, the Care Certificate provides the first step on the learning pathway, supporting and valuing this essential part of the workforce and providing assurance to those who receive care that staff have the necessary skills and competences. Although initially targeting those new to a support worker role, the Care Certificate can also be undertaken by those in the existing support workforce. By offering robust development of core skills, which can be evaluated in practice, it also provides a platform for further learning and career progression if desired. 

The Care Certificate is the start of the career journey for these staff groups and is only one element of the training and education that will make them ready to practice within their specific workplace.   

The Care Certificate is not a mandatory requirement. However, the CQC (Care Quality Commission) will expect staff in support worker roles to undertake the Care Certificate or equivalent as part of their induction. 

It is also important to remember that the Care Certificate does not stand alone, but in an overall context of good employment practice it is for the employer to assure themselves that the staff they employ have the necessary skills and competences. The Care Certificate can provide evidence of this and forms part of an overall approach to appropriate induction, which must also include local context and role-specific induction training. 

Employers will need support in implementing the new Care Certificate. Skills for Health has been working in partnership with Health Education England and Skills for Care to develop a range of support materials that can be used to provide the necessary development for this crucial part of the workforce.

Many learning providers will also be able to offer development to support achievement of the standards that comprise the Care Certificate. However, no provider has been ‘licenced’ to award the Care Certificate, nor are they are accredited to deliver the Care Certificate. 

Although some training organisations may have had their training externally quality assured, again it is for the employer to ensure that the training offered meets the required learning outcomes and assessment criteria for the Care Certificate. 

To this end, a suite of core clinical e-learning courses has been developed by Skills for Health. These, along with the existing statutory and mandatory courses, cover the underpinning knowledge requirements of the Care Certificate standards and allow staff to undertake learning at a time and place that is convenient for them. Workbooks, Care Certificate Mapping and self-assessment are just a few useful tools developed that allow this to become achievable. 

The National Skills Academy for Health (NSAH) supports the launch of the Care Certificate for health and social care support workers. The NSAH has developed a range of support services and resources which can help implement the Care Certificate within an organisation and achieve standards within their first 12 weeks of employment. 

The Care Certificate was one of a number of key recommendations arising from the Cavendish review, which made suggestions on how to improve the quality of care provided by health and care support workers in the wake of the failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and the Francis report. 

Developing this valuable group of staff is essential to delivering and maintaining compassionate and high-quality care. The new Care Certificate is an important initiative in furthering this goal and optimising this workforce. 




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