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The Care Certificate is dead – long live the Care Certificate

Published on June 28th, 2023

We recently took a look at the Care Certificate as it stands today, its background, aims and objectives, as well as its successes and failings. To recap, the Care Certificate is a set of standards that define the knowledge, skills and behaviours expected of those working in the health and social care sector in England. Originally introduced in 2015, it is not a formal qualification, but rather a set of guiding principles that individuals need to meet in order to demonstrate competence in their roles. Since its launch, it has come under continuous scrutiny, particularly as the care sector has come under increasing pressure to improve standards of care.  There can be no doubt that whilst the intentions of the Care Certificate are good, it needs to fundamentally change. And we have heard that there are finally some big changes to the Care Certificate just around the corner… more on that in a moment.

Addressing the issues with the Care Certificate

Firstly, let’s look at what is driving the forthcoming changes to the Care Certificate. In the white paper People at the Heart of Care: adult social care reform, published in December 2021, the government recognised the need for the Care Certificate to be funded and portable, which would enable care employees to become more mobile in their careers and avoid having to repeat training when they changed jobs. The paper outlined a plan, backed by at least £500 million in funding (since reduced to £250m)  which included relaunching the Care Certificate as a fully funded L2 qualification. More recently,  in March 2023, the government set out its plan to build on the commitments made in its 2021 white paper to further digitise the social care sector and bolster the workforce with a promise of £16.8 billion in spending “to make sure people receive the right care in the right place at the right time”. This swiftly leads us to the big change that’s on the horizon.

Change is afoot

There has been much rumour for some time regarding the launch of the revised Care Certificate and whether it will be a funded qualification. The latest information we have is as follows.

In September 2022, The Department for Health and Social Care issued a prior information notice outlining their requirements for the development of the following:

  1. Care Certificate qualification at Level 2.
  2. Digital Skills qualifications at both Level 3 and Level 5.
  3. Dementia qualification based on tier 2 of the Dementia Training Standards Framework.

Following the announcement of the reduction in funding from £500m to £250m – a revised tender was issued for just the Care Certificate and L5 Digital Skills qualifications. The indicative timeframes suggested that the revised specifications were to be available to awarding organisations in September 2023 with a full rollout in 2024.

What does this mean in practice?

Assuming there are no significant changes to the plans, then the formalisation of the Care Certificate into a funded qualification raises a number of considerations:

  1. Standardisation: Turning the Care Certificate into a qualification would provide a standardised framework for training and assessing individuals working in the health and social care sector. This would ensure that all learners receive the same level of knowledge and skills, which should lead to consistent standards across the sector.
  2. Portability: As an accredited qualification, the Care Certificate would have formal recognition, making it readily accepted by employers.
  3. Career progression: With qualification status, the Care Certificate would provide a foundation for individuals to build upon – and potentially encourage them to pursue further education or specialised training. This would in turn go a long way toward improving recruitment and retention within the care sector.
  4. Funding: As a qualification, the Care Certificate would qualify for government funding, which (hopefully) would significantly reduce the cost of taking on new staff for employers. Couple this with portability and the savings to most organisations will be significant.
  5. Quality assurance: With qualification status, there will likely be increased measures such as external assessment and verification processes put in place, to provide the necessary QA required for a regulated qualification. Questions about how this will work in practice still remain unknown.
  6. Competency Assessments: Employers may well need to ‘upskill’ managers if they are to continue to be involved in the delivery of the Care Certificate when it becomes a qualification.

Potential bumps in the road

Whilst on the surface the transitioning of the Care Certificate into a qualification seems like a simple and logical change, there could well be some unexpected consequences. The ‘light-touch’ delivery many providers have become accustomed to may well change significantly, leading to increased pressure on resources. The sector is already grappling with gaps in delivery across both colleges and private providers and further demand might be difficult to support.

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Understanding and actioning changes to government policies and regulations is our raison d’être! When you partner with us, you can rest assured that we keep our finger on the pulse when it comes to HSC learning, funding, qualifications and technology.

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