Boost minimum training, don't reduce it - UNISON tells commission
UNISON, the UK's leading public sector trade union, is urging the Care Quality Commission* to ensure training requirements in health and social care are boosted, rather than remove minimum standards. The union, along with it's members who work as inspectors in the Care Quality Commission, is warning that cutting minimum training standards could leave people with a lower standard of care.
Currently, care homes and care providers have to train at least 50% of their staff to NVQ Level 2. The commission is consulting on plans to remove this minimum training requirement, leaving companies to set their own standards for training.
Helga Pile, UNISON National Officer for Social Care, said:
"Home care and care home providers are constantly squeezing margins to increase profits. If the care regulator doesn't require companies to train their staff, it is likely they will make cutbacks to save cash. Private companies already have a far worse record for training their staff than council run services.
"At a time when children's social care is moving to level 3, removing the minimum qualification level for workers in adult care services will be a huge backwards step. Also worrying is the move towards "lighter touch" regulations, including fewer inspections. We should be working towards higher standards of fully accredited training, with time off for staff to get their qualifications. People who depend on these services will pick up the bill if they end up with lower quality care."
A CQC social care inspector and UNISON member, who wanted to remain anonymous, said:
"I'm worried that in this new system the pendulum has swung too far away from specific requirements. It means that the provider more or less proposes what they are going to provide in terms of staffing and their qualifications, and it is very difficult to argue against this, unless it is extremely inadequate. This, of course, is made worse when a service could only get an inspection visit once every three years."
Christine Wade, home care convenor from Leeds, said:
"The home carers I work with have benefited hugely from training and achieving their qualification. Their confidence has increased, their knowledge of the area they work in has improved. This all means a higher level of care for the people they look after.
"Instead of cutting training and qualification levels, we should be building in higher standards. The age profile of home carers means many will retire in the next ten years. Unless we take steps to encourage young people into the profession, by giving them a clear career structure, we will be turning the current recruitment difficulties we've got now into a full-blown crisis."
*The union is warning Consultation into the new regulatory regime being brought in by the Care Quality Commission - "Guidance about compliance with the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (registration requirements) regulations 2009"
*The national minimum standards came into effect in 2003 - since then the number of providers meeting them has steadily risen.
*Council run services have the best record on meeting the standards - the private sector has the worst record. 94% of council run care homes for older people met the standard in 2007-08 compared with 90% of voluntary sector and 83% of private sector homes. 82%of council-run homecare providers met the standard compared with 81% of voluntary sector and 74% of private sector homecare providers.