High calibre, skilled care workers are a must, not an optional extra

Events over the last few weeks have highlighted unacceptably poor levels of care provided in some residential services by those trusted to care and support vulnerable people, writes SSSC convener, Gerry Coutts.

High calibre, skilled care workers are a must, not an optional extra. As Margo MacDonald MSP pointed out (“Margo Wants Care Qualifications”, Evening News, 16 June), competence, skill and suitability to work in care are crucial. As a society, we cannot tolerate the maltreatment of those who are most in need of care and protection and the SSSC is here to help ensure that poor practice is addressed.

In Scotland, arrangements are already in place to ensure that all care staff are properly trained, assessed and qualified and by 2015, all care home workers will be legally required to be registered either with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) or another workforce regulator.

As well as getting qualified, each worker must sign up to meet the SSSC Code of Practice for Social Service Workers as part of their registration which allows them to remain in this workforce. There are six Codes, each one setting out for workers exactly what is expected of their conduct and practice.

For example, Code 1 states that workers must protect the interests and rights of people who use services and carers. This means social service workers must treat people as individuals, respect and maintain their dignity and their individual views and wishes.

While the majority of staff do a good job often in difficult circumstances, let me be clear that failure to meet these standards and promote the interests of service users is unacceptable and may result in a worker being removed from the Register and from the social service workforce. Workers also have a responsibility to ensure that poor practice they may witness is highlighted so that steps can be taken to improve.

Employers, workers and the public can be assured that we can and do take action against any registered worker who fails to act appropriately and in the interests of the people who use social services. In 2010/11, 13 social service workers were deemed unsuitable to work in social services and removed from the SSSC Register.

Employers also have a critical role, set out in the SSSC Code of Practice for Employers for making sure they employ the right people with the right skills and values for the job.

You can find out more about the qualification requirements set for care workers, the Codes of Practice or any other aspect of the SSSC’s work please go to www.sssc.uk.com

Garry Coutts
Scottish Social Services Council