An electronic portfolio of competencies achieved by healthcare assistants and signed off by registered staff should be introduced to “raise the bar” in standards, a national review of care and nursing education has recommended.
The Shape of Caring Review proposes a major overhaul of the way HCAs are trained, calling for national competency standards to be developed for the workforce across both health and social care in England.
“I envisage every care worker in the future having their own ‘app’ onto which goes all their competencies which will be signed off by a person with a badge and a number”
Chaired by Lord Willis of Knaresborough, the review recommends care workers are assessed against the proposed competencies and then signed off by registered staff, before these achievements are recorded on the individual’s personal portfolio.
This “ground-breaking” system would ensure care workers in England have for the first time a standardised record of their achievements to date, and that patients and families know staff caring for them have the required competencies, said Lord Willis.
“I envisage every care worker in the future having their own ‘app’. It’s as simple as that – onto which goes all their competencies which will be signed off by a person with a badge and a number so you can trace who they are,” Lord Willis told Nursing Times.
This electronic portfolio, which should also be accessible to employers, would help the profession to self-regulate, he said.
Meanwhile, the forthcoming national care certificate – which includes 15 fundamental standards that health and social care workers should meet within their first 12 weeks in the role – must become mandatory, said Lord Willis in his review.
He said he hoped that within five years, employers will have ensured the majority of their care workers – not just new ones – have obtained the certificate.
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- Newly-qualifieds should do year-long preceptorship including research
- Exclusive: HCAs to be offered faster nursing degree courses
The Liberal Democrat peer has in the past called for those on Agenda for Change pay bands 3 and 4 to be registered with a body and regulated, based on his previous research into nursing education for the Royal College of Nursing.
However, following the Shape of Caring Review, he told Nursing Times that regulation was not possible at the moment, because there were no standards to assess care assistants against.
Instead, he said the introduction of a standardised skills portfolio that can be transferred between jobs would enable employers to assess whether care workers are competent to carry out tasks and help them to identify dismissals or other problems from past posts.
“I’m more interested in raising the bar, in terms of investing in colleagues, rewarding them in terms of status and in delivering them a lifeline career path.
“That seems a better way of raising standards and keeping patients safe than saying we must have lots of draconian policies in place,” he said.
What did the Shape of Caring Review recommend?
- HEE should work with the care sector to develop or use an existing e-portfolio tool that will allow signed-off competencies to be recorded electronically on a national database for care assistants, across both the health and social care sectors.
All competencies held within the database will be achieved at nationally accepted standards (which are quality assured on a regular basis) so that they are truly transferable and accepted by all health and social care organisations; reducing the duplication of unnecessary education and training.