Statutory registration awareness amongst social care workers
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Power, Martin, & D’Arcy, Patricia (2017). Statutory registration awareness amongst social care workers survey. Dublin: Social Care Ireland.
Statutory registration for health and social care professionals has become an increasing feature of regulatory systems in many nations (Allsop & Saks, 2002; Cornes, Manthrope, Huxley & Sherrill, 2007; Byrne, 2016). In Ireland, the primary legislation that underpins regulation is the Health and Social Care Professionals Act (2005). The inclusion of social care worker within this Act (2005) was pivotal, as recognition by the state is an essential component of legitimisation as a profession (at least in the Anglo-Saxon policy world, which includes Ireland) (Williams & Lalor, 2001; Joint Committee on Social Care Professionals; Evetts, 2003; Fourcade, 2006). More recently, other important developments have occurred. In 2015, a Social Care Workers Registration Board was established within CORU, in late-2016 a draft Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics for social care workers was circulated for consultation, and in mid-2017, Standards of Proficiency for Social Care Workers and Criteria for Education and Training Programmes were released. While this recent flurry of activity highlights that registration is now impending, the legacy of the longevity of calls for registration (Williams & Lalor, 2001; Byrne-Lancaster, 2017; Hutchinson, 2017), as well as the general absence of impetus immediately following the 2005 Act, have done little to grow awareness around registration (Farrelly & O’Doherty, 2011). It is a situation compounded by the previous “unregulated” status of social care work, the “range and variety of titles”, the “range of routes into” practice and the diversity of “social care practice” (Hutchinson, 2017). If these are challenges for establishing a register, there are two related difficulties for the profession. First, no precise figure exists for the number of current social care workers, with estimates suggesting up to 8,000 (Lyons & Howard, 2014). Second and more importantly, is concern around the levels of awareness and understanding of registration and its implications. Certainly, those working in the area have often heard statements such as, ‘registration will never happen; sure they have been talking about that for years’. Though there is extremely limited research in this area, it also concludes that discussion of regulation is largely conspicuous by its absence, particularly in the disability sector (Finnerty, 2012). This study therefore sought to help address this gap and was initiated with two aims – (1) to gather data on the extent of awareness in relation to statutory registration and its implications (2) to raise awareness through disseminating the survey widely, especially within the disability sector.