Healthcare assistants have called for practical training in patient safety, dignity, infection control, hygiene and nutrition.
New training body Health Education England is due to develop and introduce a new statutory certificate of care for all HCAs.
The idea was recommended by journalist Camilla Cavendish in her review of HCA training for the government earlier this year.
At Unison’ HCA conference in Liverpool this week, around 200 delegates put forward their views on training during a session with Health Education England representatives.
HCAs called for continual assessment, pathways to attaining qualifications – such as foundation degrees – and accreditation for those who already have NVQs.
Access to robust mentoring and “buddying” schemes in order to gain knowledge and transferrable skills across wards and departments should also be a key element of the certificate, they said.
A poll of delegates found 57% of the HCAs attending the conference had no access to professional development outside of mandatory training in the past year.
In addition, 29% said there is no funding in their organisation to undertake training and almost 50% said junior staff did not receive equal access to training.
Gail Adams, Unison’s head of nursing, said: “In some hospitals HCAs are highly trained and respected, but in other settings they are treated as cheap labour.
“The most effective way of deciding what this certificate will include is to consult those people who are working in the sector day to day, so we welcome the opportunity to feed our ideas into this framework,” she said.
She added: “Training must be properly funded and HCAs and care workers given the paid time they need to successfully complete the new certificate of fundamental care.”
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