Skip to main content

BASW: Without regulation, Code of Conduct for care staff risks being “paper tiger”

Following the Winterbourne View serious case review, BASW is urging the government to impose statutory regulation on the employment of care staff, so that the proposed Code of Conduct can be properly enforced.

In the recent care and support white paper, the government stated that the Sector Skills Councils for Social Care and Health will work with them to produce a code of conduct and recommended minimum training standards for adult social care workers and healthcare support workers. These are scheduled to be published by September 2012.

Unlike qualified social workers, who are regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), there are still no plans to legally regulate adult social care workers.

Commenting on the lack of regulation for care workers, BASW Manager Ruth Cartwright said: “While regulation does not guarantee that scandalous abuse such as that experienced by the patients of Winterbourne View could never happen again, it does help to get rid of bad people once their inadequacy is exposed.

“The Care Quality Commission (CQC) would have to stringently monitor how employers choose to use the Code of Conduct, if it is not to be a paper tiger with no real use. The good providers will follow the code anyway, and there is little pressure on poor providers to improve unless there is a legal obligation to do so. Surely it would be much better for the government to put morals before money, and properly invest in a regulatory body for care workers.

“The CQC must monitor, criticise and censure those who don’t use the Code of Conduct, and demonstrate that they not only apply the letter of the guidance, but also the spirit underpinning it. Winterbourne View had excellent policies, procedures and statements of purpose, but the CQC didn’t test the reality.

“In terms of employing people through use of personal budgets, Adult service users are of course entitled to take on anyone they want, and some people remain adamant that they don’t want to have to take on registered people and be nannied by the state, but would they be as happy to employ an unregistered electrician in their homes?”

“Bringing in registration does not have to prevent personal choice, and many service users would value the additional protection it could offer.”