Supporting A Competent, Confident And Valued Workforce

The Scottish Social Services present an update on the registration of social service workers in Scotland…

If you work in social services then you are probably aware that social service workers in Scotland are in the process of becoming registered and regulated by their own regulatory body.

Registration is a major part of the drive for higher standards in social services and will bring this workforce in line with other professional colleagues such as teachers, nurses and doctors, who all have their own regulatory bodies.

The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) is responsible for the registration and regulation of the social service workforce and its education and training. The SSSC registers individual workers and liaises with them, their employers and training providers to ensure that workers are properly trained, appropriately qualified and effectively registered.

The registration of social service workers will help to increase the protection of people who use social services, raise standards of practice and to increase public confidence in the sector. This is being done in a number of ways…

For example, every one who is registered with the SSSC has to:
– agree to abide by the SSSC’s Codes of Practice which set out standards of conduct and practice for social service workers and their employers
– undergo an enhanced Disclosure Scotland check when applying to the register
– hold the appropriate qualifications for the job they do or agree to achieve those qualifications within a specified period of time (normally within three years of registering) and
– do a set amount of post registration learning and training.

Commenting on registration, Carole Wilkinson, Chief Executive of the SSSC commented: “Registration aims to enhance the image and status of social service workers. It is supporting them to become and be recognised as properly trained, appropriately qualified and effectively regulated

She added: “We’re listening and working with a range of stakeholders to ensure that the education and training is consistent and meets the high standards needed to deliver quality services. And we’re committed to consulting with each section of the workforce before determining the qualifications criteria.”

The Scottish Executive, which established the SSSC under the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001, decides which groups of workers the SSSC will register and in what order they will be registered. With 138,000 social service workers in Scotland, registration is being done in phases.

The Register of Social Service Workers opened on 1 April 2003.  All groups in phase one have now been invited to register and the SSSC will begin to invite workers in phase two from October 2006.

Workers invited to register during phase one included:
– Social workers
– Students on the new social work honours degree and postgraduate programmes
– Care Commission officers
– Managers of residential child care services
– Supervisors within residential child care services
– Managers of care home services for adults
– Managers of adult day care services.
– Residential child care workers.

Workers invited to register during phase two (from October 2006) will include:
– Managers/lead practitioners of early education and childcare service (from October 2006)
– Practitioners of early education and child care (from March 2007)
– Supervisors in adult residential care (from September 2007)
– Support workers in early education and child care (from October 2008)
– Practitioners in adult residential care (from January 2009)
– Support workers in adult residential care (from April 2009)
– Workers in housing support services (from autumn 2009).

Once a worker is registered they will be notified by the SSSC and the worker’s name, place of employment and registration number included in the public register which is available on the SSSC website

Further Information
The SSSC has a useful Frequently Asked Questions sheet specifically about registration that can be downloaded from their website. The SSSC also keeps its stakeholders and registrants updated of developments via newsletters, eBulletins, information sessions and attendance at social service and careers events.

If you would like to find out more about the SSSC or how to register please contact: Scottish Social Services Council, Compass House, 11 Riverside Drive, Dundee DD1 4NY. Lo-call 0845 60 30 891, Tel: 01382 207101, Fax: 01382 207215, Email: [email protected],

Registration Case Study

Emma MacKintosh is a registered social worker currently on maternity leave from Aberdeen City Council. Here she tells us about her career in social services and her experience of becoming registered with the Scottish Social Services Council.

Current job title and workplace?
Social worker based in a Children & Families Team.

Brief description of duties?
As a social worker I am a member of a team which provides a comprehensive service to children and their families within a defined geographical area. The team I work within, like several others, is responsible for Child Protection work, assessment of risk and follow up support. We work within a statutory setting and provide a service to the Children’s Hearing system being responsible for all Initial Investigation Reports, Hearing Reports and Supervision Orders.

Career route?
After several years working as a residential support worker with adults with learning difficulties, I decided that I wanted to gain my diploma in social work. To do this I decided to undertake the course through a distance learning route which was with the Open University. I qualified in October 2004.

How did you find out about registration and when did you become registered?
I was registered in October 2005. I knew about registration as my employer and I regularly received information from the SSSC via ebulletins, the SSSC newsletter and information sessions held by the SSSC in the run up to the register opening in 2003. Also there was a lot of information distributed prior to protection of title for social workers coming into being in October 2005, so we knew that registration with SSSC was now a requirement for social workers. On a more personal level my employer and particularly my own team leader were very good in reminding the social work staff in their department of the requirement to register.

What did registering entail?
I sent away for the registration application pack which arrived in about a week. I filled out most of the application form, which focused on my career history and asked for any declarations about disciplinary or criminal proceedings or judgements against me (none thankfully!). My employer then had to fill in the remainder of the application form to endorse what I had said and give further information. The application pack also included an enhanced Disclosure Scotland form which has to be filled out and returned in order for the application to be processed. There was also a comprehensive Registration Guide which came with the application form so there weren’t any problems when it came to filling it out although if there had been I’d have just given the SSSC a quick call. I also enclosed one cheque for both the SSSC and Disclosure Scotland fee.

How did you find the process of registering?
As I’d had a Disclosure Scotland check done before commencing employment with Aberdeen City Council I was slightly perplexed at having to have one done again in order to register with the SSSC. However the SSSC explained that between the time of someone’s last Disclosure Scotland check and applying to register with them, anything could have happened. Therefore in order to ensure the information they have is accurate when processing an application they had to request an enhanced check, no matter how recent the person’s last one was. But overall the process was very straightforward.

How soon were you registered – how were you notified?
It didn’t take long to become registered and I was notified by letter from the SSSC.

What do you see as the other benefits to registering?
I have to carry out 15 days of post registration training and learning, within the three year registration period. Although initially this seemed a bit daunting I think it’s very important to social workers as professionals on two levels. Firstly, it ensures that we do keep up to date with new findings, information and techniques that may help us in our job, and secondly, it helps ensure that people recognise our learning doesn’t just stop once we’ve got our social work qualification or have registered. So although I initially thought of it as a bit of a chore I have come to view it really as a benefit! Most importantly though, I think the major benefit of registering social service workers is that as a workforce, we will now begin to be seen as appropriately qualified and regulated professionals. Similar, for example, to teachers, doctors, nurses and midwifes. Also registration and regulation of individual workers will hopefully improve public confidence in the sector ensuring that the public know individual workers are accountable for their own practice.