Speaking at the Health and Social Care Board Adult Safeguarding event to mark World Elder Abuse Day Health Minister Simon Hamilton announced his intention to introduce compulsory registration for social care workers in domiciliary care and day care settings. The Minister said that his Department is committed to registering the whole of the social care workforce in Northern Ireland, with the primary aim of strengthening public protection. It is hoped that the process of registration will begin this year, which will mean Northern Ireland will lead the way across the UK. The Minister said: “More than 23,000 social care workers, including social workers, are already registered with the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC). It is my intention that compulsory registration will be introduced for the remaining groups of social care workers in domiciliary and day care.”
“This will bring an estimated 12,000 additional workers onto the NISCC Register. Details regarding the timeline are to be confirmed but it is hoped to progress roll out this year. This will mean Northern Ireland will be leading the way across the UK. Social care workers provide care and support for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Many work unsupervised in people’s homes. Registration will give greater confidence and assurance to service users, their families and the wider public that those entrusted to provide this care are suitable and safe to do so.”
Colum Conway, NISCC Chief Executive said:“This is a milestone for the social care sector. Registration and regulation provides an opportunity to raise standards of learning and practice right across the sector. The continuing development of a social care workforce equipped with the skills and practice standards to deliver quality services is a key element of the vision to establish a safe, sustainable and resilient social care service in Northern Ireland.”
NISCC has been working with the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to phase in regulation of the social work and social care workforce across Northern Ireland. To date, workforce registration has been completed for all 5,500 social workers practising in Northern Ireland and for the 18,000 social care workers employed in residential homes, nursing homes and children’s homes. NISCC will publish information shortly about the support available for the 12,000 domiciliary and day care workers and the employers who are affected by this stage of compulsory workforce registration. Updates and details about information sessions will be shared with employers and managers already registered with NISCC.