March 2015 sees the launch of the Care Certificate, replacing both the National Minimum Training Standards (NMTS) and the Common Induction Standards (CIS) currently used to deliver induction training to new healthcare and social care support workers respectively. It is being supported by Skills for Care, Skills for Health and Health Education England and an initial pilot programme is currently underway with an evaluation report due in September 2014.
The Care Certificate is set to become the mandatory induction training programme for new Healthcare Support Workers and Care Support Workers and is being implemented following the recommendations of The Cavendish Review.
Whilst there are many conflicting professional, financial and political arguments surrounding the Care Certificate, we wanted to take a pragmatic look at the proposed framework and try to understand what it really means for many of our care provider clients.
For those who wish to familiarise themselves with the published draft framework, documentation and further reading is available via Skills for Care website.
In principle, the Care Certificate will mirror aspects of the current CIS induction with some of the training being fairly similar, however, as always the devil may well be in the detail.
A quick review of the draft framework shows that the proposed Care Certificate will be expanded to cover 15 standards, whereas the CIS currently covers just 8 (that’s a 187% increase). It is also noticeable that care workers will be expected to complete both adult and children’s safeguarding training irrespective of workplace, along with a new Basic Life Support standard.
In addition to the increase in standards, there is also likely to be a significant increase in the number of observations required to demonstrate competence, with around 50 specified in the draft Assessor Document. Furthermore, the majority of observations must be conducted ‘during real work activity’ by an occupationally competent assessor and evidence of prior experience will not be allowed except for Basic Life Support.
Interestingly, it is noticeable that the ‘on-demand’ benefits of e-learning has been specifically recognised and confirmed as acceptable for learning and assessment when used as part of a ‘blended approach’. Our clients can take comfort from knowing that our content and assessment is always independently and rigorously reviewed to ensure full compliance with national standards.
Whilst the Care Certificate will not be formally accredited (as with QCF qualifications) it is expected to be delivered with the same levels of assessment and recording normally associated with formal qualifications. Furthermore, it is specifically intended to provide a platform for further professional development and provide evidence towards appropriate qualifications and Apprenticeships. This aspect in particular is likely to cause significant confusion, with employers expected to deliver learning, assessment and observations similar to a fully-fledged qualification yet without any financial support to cover the associated cost.
On a more positive note, this level of rigour means that once learners have achieved the Care Certificate, it is intended to be portable between employers and will not have to be repeated by the individual.
As you might expect, there is no change to the 12 week induction rule and not surprisingly, employers will be expected to fund the Care Certificate without any additional external funding; Norman Lamb, Care Minister confirmed when explaining the Care Certificate that ’responsibility and cost of providing training rests with the employer’.
In many ways the most important point for care providers to consider is not the number of standards or the amount of observations required, but whether the Care Certificate will lead to a significant increase in cost on a sector already struggling with reduced revenues.
Whilst it’s perhaps a little premature to confirm if the volume of learning has increased, however it’s fairly obvious that what is likely to be very different is the way evidence is recorded and retained as part of the induction process.
The Care Certificate is clearly viewed as the first step in a structured career pathway, with new employees expected to progress onto further training and development including QCF qualifications. Therefore, a comprehensive and well-structured assessment and observation strategy, which is both clear and auditable is key to ensuring evidence is collated and then used towards achievement for QCF qualifications and Apprenticeships. This ‘process’ must be robust and will also form part of CQC standard audit and inspections. This means up to 50 observations for each learner documented and available for inspection and completed by occupationally competent assessors within the ‘work-place’.
Registered Managers will still be responsible for ensuring learner training is ‘signed-off’ and they will remain accountable for the standard of teaching and assessment used to deliver the Care Certificate.
Over the coming weeks and months we will continue to share our plans both by email and webinar with our key clients, if you or a colleague would like to be kept up to date with developments register online and we will keep you posted.