Health and Social Care – Sector review report

Friday 15 Jul 2016

A new range of qualifications are needed to equip learners with the necessary skills for one of the largest employment sectors in Wales.

That’s one of the conclusions arrived at by Qualifications Wales following an in-depth analysis into the needs of the health and social care sector.

“Health and social care, which includes child care and playwork, encompasses so many different careers, including care workers in hospitals, childcare, residential homes for adults and children, and care at home”, said Cassy Taylor, Associate Director for Vocational Qualifications.

“The sector employs tens of thousands of people in Wales, caring for some of the most vulnerable members of society. Those who are tasked with these responsible jobs need to be properly qualified and have access to high quality training and learning,” she said.

“As a new organisation, Qualifications Wales decided to make health and social care the focus of our first vocational sector review because of its importance to learners, employers and to society in general.”

The analysis found a number of strengths in the current system, but also identified issues that need to be addressed. As a result, Qualifications Wales has made several proposals, including to:

  • Develop a new suite of qualifications for learners in Wales to reduce complexity and raise quality;
  • Develop holistic, creative approaches to assess competence of learners as they undertake qualifications;
  • Provide an introduction to a wide range of roles in the sector by broadening the scope of qualifications available for pupils aged 14-16;
  • Reduce duplication and repetition between qualifications at different levels;
  • Apply quality assurance arrangements consistently and robustly across Wales;
  • Make sure that every aspect of the new qualifications is available bilingually;
  • Increase the inclusion of key topics, such as dementia care for those working with older people, or play for those providing childcare;
  • Build upon current co-productive methods with key partners, ensuring there is clear information about the respective roles and responsibilities of each organisation.

“Our report was informed by a period of intense engagement with stakeholders,” said Cassy.

“We attended more than 125 different meetings, involved more than 800 learners in focus groups and received over 200 responses to our online consultation.

“Now that our analysis is complete we are looking at how to implement our recommendations.”

The next phase will start in September.

Sarah McCarty, Director of Learning and Development with the Care Council for Wales, said: “As an organisation which recognises the vital work carried out daily by social care workers in Wales, it is heartening to know that Qualifications Wales share that view and chose to begin their qualifications analysis with this sector.

“The review findings provide a real opportunity to work collaboratively to ensure qualifications meet the needs of people using care and support, as well as learners, practitioners and employers.

“The findings have emerged at an opportune time for us as an organisation – the implementation of the Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Act in April 2017 will see the Care Council become Social Care Wales, a new body with an extended remit. As a result, a far larger proportion of the social care sector, including home care workers and adult residential care workers, will be required to register with Social Care Wales.

“The opportunities that will be available to Qualifications Wales and us in our expanded role will provide the potential for new solutions that were not possible in the past. This gives us the opportunity to build upon the strengths of the existing system, with scope for a new level of innovation for the future.

“We are moving towards a new era of social care and we agree that it is vital that we have a range of qualifications which are fit for the future to support a skilled and confident workforce.

“We are mindful that we are in a period of unprecedented change for social care in Wales, so we are keen to approach these changes with enthusiasm but recognise the need for clear planning and engagement so as not to cause any unnecessary uncertainty for the workforce.”

Qualifications Wales is planning further in-depth reviews into the construction and IT sectors, starting in September.

Read the report here.