One Year of the Care Certificate: What We've Learned

Care Certificate One Year On

With thousands of people undertaking training to meet the Care Certificate standards since its launch a year ago, we interview one of its lead architects, Skills for Health's Angelo Varetto to reflect on successes and lessons learned. The Care Certificate was a cross sector development involving Skills for Health, Skills for Care, Health Education England and other organisations.

1) Care Certificate Aims & Objectives

Skills Platform (SP): What were the original aims for the care certificate, where do you feel the care certificate has helped achieve these aims?

Angelo Varetto (AV): The Care Certificate came out of the Cavendish Review into training of health and adult care support workers. The report fundamentally raised questions about the quality of initial training for healthcare support workers and adult care workers in England. One of the main recommendations was for the creation of a common standard of training originally called the Certificate in Fundamental Care to assess both the knowledge and the skills of these workers.

On reflection, I think we achieved the minimum aim of a common standard for induction training. It's had a high profile since its launch and ultimately people are doing it.

2) Year One: The Highlights

(SP): What are your main highlights for the care certificate’s first year?

(AV): After the launch of the Standards themselves for me, the main highlight was the production of the workbooks. These were a major undertaking in a short period of time, with numerous drafts. They came out in May 2015 and although we had to make a few amendments to some workbooks because of changes brought about by the Care Act I'm happy the workbooks are there as a resource.

From a wider perspective, employers do seem to have embraced the Care Certificate. Although there are no official numbers, but some are suggesting that across health and social care the figures could be as high as 350,000 learners having commenced Care Certificate training in its first year.

3) Is it working as expected?

(SP): Do you have any feedback or data on whether the Care Certificate is making a difference?

(AV): There hasn’t been any official evidence but anecdotal reports from employers and employees appear to be positive. The Department for Health has also commissioned a longitudinal research study to evaluate the Care Certificate, but this will not be released for some time. It will be interesting to see what comes out of that study as we know that in theory all support workers would have undertaken some form of induction training. For some employers their training would have already met the Care Certificate Standards but for others, the introduction of the Care Certificate will have brought about a big change in the initial training provided for new support workers and perhaps for some it will be the first time they provide such training.

The bottom line is that the Certificate has brought in an element of standardisation to initial training for support workers in health and care. Another yardstick is that there has been no tidal wave of complaints from employers, which is at least reassuring!

4) What have we learned?

(SP): What have you learned from being involved in the Care Certificate?

(AV): In terms of what I've learned personally, it's that a small group of people with common goals and values can achieve a lot, especially with a willingness to compromise. Skills for Health worked with Skills for Care, HEE and other stakeholders, and we managed to produce something of value, on time and within the resource available. It shows that you can deliver cross-sector projects if you work together.

(SP): Is there anything you wish you could clarify?

(AV): Yes, Basic Life Support. We have clarified in the FAQ, but it would have made our life easier to call it something other than Basic Life Support (BLS). It should have been termed something like CPR, because this aligns closely with the actual standards required. BLS was initially misunderstood with some employers thinking they had to put all new employees through 'emergency first aid at work' courses as this includes CPR but you wouldn't need to do all of this.

We are still regularly answering questions from employers but the volume of these has fallen dramatically over the past six months. We still get people asking questions that are answered in the guidance or FAQ but equally we get people contacting us over evidence they need to provide during CQC inspections or who should or shouldn’t be doing the Care Certificate.

(SP): Is there anything you would do differently?

(AV): I would have liked some form of external Quality Assurance built into the system, but this wasn’t part of the commissioned work

5) What does the future hold?

(SP): What does the future hold for the Care Certificate?

(AV): The Certificate will need ongoing maintenance and promotion to ensure it remains relevant, but I cannot foresee any large scale changes being made to the Care Certificate Standards in the future. There will not be any changes to the list of 15 standards themselves, but we may have to update some of the workbook content when legislation changes or new guidelines are issued. We will no doubt continue to update the supporting materials and FAQ

I would hope the Care Certificate continues to grow and maintains the high profile it has achieved in its first year

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