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The Care Certificate

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I understand the new Care Certificate is to be launched soon. What do I need to know come 1st April? With so many other changes happening around my business this year, how can I be prepared?


Sharon Allen, Chief Executive, Skills for Care

In a time of great change for the sector, 1st April is a landmark date as the Care Act comes into force and the Care Certificate is introduced to support workers in social care and health. With so many pressures on the sector at this time, we have set out to explore everything providers need to know to begin working towards the new Care Certificate from the 1st of April.

The Care Certificate is a part of the wider induction for new staff which replaces the current Common Induction Standards. It was a key recommendation of the Cavendish Commission.

Camilla Cavendish was appointed after the Francis Inquiry into the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust to undertake an independent review of social care support workers and health care assistants across both the social care and health sectors.

Her review The Cavendish Review: An Independent Review into Healthcare Assistants and Support Workers in the NHS and Social Care Settings suggested that the preparation of social care support workers and health care assistants for their roles within care settings was inconsistent. As a result, the creation of a Fundamental Certificate of Care or ‘Care Certificate’ was recommended.

Since then Skills for Care, Health Education England and Skills for Health have been working in partnership to consult with the sector about what the Care Certificate might look like. This partnership has been integral to developing the Care Certificate, which will launch from 1st of April, because this is the first time that there will be a common approach to induction across the social care and health sectors.

What is the Care Certificate?

The Care Certificate fits into a whole approach to leadership, learning and development in social care and health. It is not something happening in isolation but feeds into wider leadership, learning and development across all services.

The Care Certificate is designed to be the start of the career journey for social care and health workers offering direct care. However, it is only one element of the training and education that will make them ready to practice within their specific sector. Although the Care Certificate is designed for staff new to care and offers this group their first step on their career ladder, it also offers opportunities for existing staff to refresh and improve their knowledge in line with the new Standards.

The Care Certificate builds on and replaces the Common Induction Standards and respectively National Minimum Training Standards for all new staff from the 1st of April. It sets out explicitly the learning outcomes, competences and standards of care that will be expected in health and social care, ensuring that the combined workforce is caring, compassionate and delivers quality care and support. It also means that wherever direct care is delivered, those delivering it will have the same induction training.

There are 15 Care Certificate standards, which were published at the end of January. These are:

  1. Understand Your Role.
  2. Your Personal Development.
  3. Duty of Care.
  4. Equality and Diversity.
  5. Work in a Person-Centred Way.
  6. Communication.
  7. Privacy and Dignity.
  8. Fluids and Nutrition.
  9. Awareness of Mental Health, Dementia and Learning Disabilities.
  10. Safeguarding Adults.
  11. Safeguarding Children.
  12. Basic Life Support.
  13. Health and Safety.
  14. Handling Information.
  15. Infection Prevention and Control.

The content of the Care Certificate standards is similar to the Common Induction Standards because its development has been based around building on those standards, including a greater emphasis on not just knowledge based learning but observing how that is then put into practice.

The Care Certificate is the start of the career journey for new staff groups and is only one element of the learning and development that will make them ready to practice within their workplace. Each adult social care worker starting in a new role offering direct care is already expected to have learning and development as part of their induction. This will usually take place over the first 12 weeks of employment. The Care Certificate does not replace employer induction specific to their workplace, nor will it focus on the specific skills and knowledge needed for a specific setting. However, the Care Certificate is a key component of the overall induction which an employer is required to provide in order to meet the essential standards set out by the Care Quality Commission.

1st April 2015

From the 1st of April 2015, employers will be expected to ensure that all new care staff begin training towards their Care Certificate. However it’s highly likely that some staff will be in the process of completing their Common Induction Standards which they commenced prior to the 1st of April.

There will be some overlap and Skills for Care has been working closely with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to ensure that this is taken into consideration during inspections that take place in this transitional period. The CQC has been a close partner in this and has agreed to take a proportional approach to inspection in the transitional period. Inspectors will understand that the 1st April is not a cliff-edge and those starting the Common Induction Standards prior to the cut-off will not need to abandon that training in favour of the Care Certificate.

However, the CQC will want to see that all new staff employed from the 1st of April are working towards their Care Certificate. Providers will need to evidence that they are moving to the Care Certificate and the CQC will be looking for evidence of that.

Evidencing learning

There are templates and workbooks available for staff and organisations to evidence the work staff undertake towards the Care Certificate. These are similar to those used for the Common Induction Standards and staff will be able to use these to evidence their learning. It will be the role of management to assess this learning and evidence to share with the CQC and other stakeholders. For those organisations that have in-house learning departments or use external learning providers, their materials can also be used as long as they meet all of the Care Certificate Standards.

Managers will be responsible for ensuring that their staff are trained in the standards however, this role doesn’t have to fall to the Registered Manager directly, it can be another member of staff or an external organisation as long as the manager is confident in the assessment and understanding of the staff.

In order to achieve the Care Certificate, ALL 15 standards need to be completed. Once an employee has completed their learning and the manager is confident of the evidence and their understanding of the individual standards, the official Care Certificate can be downloaded from the Skills for Care website and there is guidance on the website on how to do this including how to add the employer’s logo.

A positive move for the sector

One of the key strengths of the Care Certificate is that this is the first time an agreed set of standards defines the minimum expectations of what care should look like across the social care and health sectors.

The implementation of the Care Certificate will impact on a substantial proportion of the social care and health work-force of millions of employees across the country. This is also the first time that mental health has been formalised within induction standards across health and social care. This group of staff have more contact with people than any other group and this gives them the minimum competences to ensure that this is delivered to an agreed set of standards.

For organisations that have ancillary staff that don’t deliver direct care but do have contact with the individuals who use the service, they may benefit from having an understanding of aspects of the Care Certificate. It is possible to draw out relevant parts of the standards and offer that learning to those ancillary staff.

The Care Certificate is a really positive move, not only for people receiving social care but for those engaging with health and mental health services too. It is the first time there will be consistent standards across the board and individuals can have the confidence that all new staff are trained in the same way to deliver the very best care.

Skills for Care is proud to have played such a pivotal role in the development of the Care Certificate and its standards as well as the partnership working alongside Health Education England and Skills for Health.

For more information and to access the supporting materials visit www.skillsforcare.org.uk/care-certificate

Sharon Allen is Chief Executive of Skills for Care.

Are you ready for the Care Certificate? What are your thoughts on this change to induction training? Add to the debate or ask your question in the comments below. Subscription required. 

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