Julie Morgan AM, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services
Today, I am launching our consultation on further Regulations relating to the workforce within the implementation of the Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Act 2016. This consultation, which will run for twelve weeks, builds on our previous consultations on the registration of further categories of the social care workforce - domiciliary care workers and care home services provided wholly or mainly for adults - that took place in 2017.
The draft Regulations set out in this consultation relate to the mandatory registration of the domiciliary care sector from 2020 and our intention to open up the register, on a voluntary basis, for care home services for adults and residential family centres from 2020 ahead of their mandatory deadline in 2022. This is a further step in progressing in our commitment to raising the profile of the sector, as it will reinforce to the public that we have a skilled and dedicated workforce. It will also uphold the rights of Welsh citizens to dignified, safe and appropriate care and support that were strengthened with the implementation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 and the Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Act 2016.
It is my intention to use these Regulations as the legislative vehicle for further raising the profile and standing of our dedicated and professional workforce, which is a core aim of the Welsh Government. We have made it clear that we regard the mandatory registration of social care workers as a necessary component of this. We remain of the belief that registration brings with it recognition and support. Recognition that these workers are skilled and qualified professionals and support from the workforce regulator, Social Care Wales (SCW), with access to a wide variety of resources and training opportunities to help develop and maintain these skills and forge careers. It also provides those people receiving care, and their families, the confidence that a social care worker has the right skills and qualifications to do their job in a professional, compassionate manner; and where this might fail, accountability to a regulatory body to address these failings.
The first draft Regulation outlines the mandatory registration of domiciliary care workers and will place a requirement on providers of domiciliary care services to employ and engage under a contract for services individuals (i.e. domiciliary care workers) who are registered with Social Care Wales from April 2020. New employees from this date will be required to be registered with SCW within six months of employment having met the specifications set by SCW as part of the registration requirements.
The second draft Regulation relates to the opening up of the register on a voluntary basis to social care workers who are employed by or engaged under a contract for services by the service providers for care home services provided wholly or mainly for adults and Residential Family Centre Services from 2020 ahead of the mandatory deadline of 2022.
I am aware that the extension of registration to new groups of the workforce needs to be undertaken in a proportionate and appropriately timetabled way. That is why I am proposing a similar two year lead in period for the voluntary registration of adult residential care workers reflecting the approach taken during the voluntary registration of domiciliary care workers in 2018. This will allow sufficient time for these workers to familiarise themselves and comply with the registration requirements. I am aware that Social Care Wales has undertaken an extensive series of workshops and engagement with the sector during the registration of domiciliary care workers and I am confident that they will utilise the lessons learned during that exercise to help deliver this next phase of workforce registration.
As part of implementing the 2016 Act, this consultation also includes a proposed change in relation to the registration of service providers under the 2016 Act to give further assurance of a service provider’s fitness to provide a regulated service in Wales. It is my intention to enable the service regulator, Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW), acting on behalf of Welsh Ministers, to obtain information from directors, trustees and members of boards or committees of applicant organisations (other than a local authority or Local Health Board) when registering as providers of regulated services.
In the case of an organisation, key decisions about its operation may be made collectively, at board level or equivalent, and therefore CIW considers the fitness of the directors, trustees and members of boards or committees of an organisation to be an important factor in determining its application for registration as a service provider.
I also intend to use the regulation making powers under section 9(9) of the Act to vary the evidence which Care Inspectorate Wales (acting on behalf of Welsh Ministers) should have regard to in deciding whether a person is fit and proper to be a service provider. This will mean that the information obtained in relation to directors, trustees, board and committee members can be taken into account when assessing the fitness and suitability of an organisation seeking registration as a service provider.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep Members informed. Should Members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.