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'Registration for HCAs provides reassurance for families, support for staff and ensures accountability'


Want the lowdown on the latest in nursing politics? Our student nurse Lorna Mclean talks the talk.

2012 is shaping up to be a big year for me.

So far I’ve managed to fit in a wedding and passing my exams. Still to come: qualifying. In 8 short months, I’ll be a registered nurse. As I’ve progressed through my course, I’ve learned so many skills and gained so much knowledge. However, the main source of confidence that I will be a good nurse has come from my part-time job as a care worker.

I went to the respite centre as a student on an elective placement to learn more about young people with complex disabilities. I never left. On an average day I administer medications, tube feed, adjust oxygen, undertake complex manual handling, give suction and generally use my professional judgement to meet the needs of our young people. I have been trained thoroughly by outstanding community nurses. The role is very similar to my days on placement in the wards, but with more responsibility.

The care given at the respite centre is of the highest standard. There are no nurses, only support workers. The support workers are all registered and regulated by the Scottish Social Services Council. We pay an annual fee to stay on the register, and must have - or be working towards - qualifications in social care. Yes, it stung a little when the direct debit left my account, but the compulsory registration provides our families reassurance that the best possible people are caring for their children and ensures staff are legally entitled to support in Professional Development, allowing career progression. The ongoing debate around healthcare assistant registration is highlighted further by schemes such as this in social work and social care throughout the UK. The government wishes to ensure that care standards are high, particularly with high profile cases shaking public confidence. Registration provides reassurance for families, support for staff and ensures accountability.

Regulation helps ensure care standards are the same no matter where you receive treatment. Healthcare must follow social care’s lead, for the sake of all involved. Healthcare assistants do a wonderful job within the NHS and registration would help improve their standing and allow them opportunities to develop their skills. In my opinion, there cannot be a better use of public funds in a cash-strapped NHS.

Lorna McLean is a final year student studying child health nursing at Edinburgh Napier. Lorna has a MA (hons) degree in politics and international relations.


Readers' comments (3)

  • anthony green

    I would agree that past experience is a big help, not essential, but I have found that keeping 14 hours of my support work whilst studying for my Learning Disability nursing degree has helped me put theory into practice over the 3 years. Very interesting that that particular respite centre is staffed by support workers and not nurses, and I think having to be registered to some governing body is very important and should be made mandatory for support workers as well as nurses.

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    So they are to be registered .good ,The new second level nurse is born again.

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  • As a new mature student on her final placement, I think HCA registration is a VERY good idea. Any bad practice I have witnessed so far has been from a small number of HCAs. Don't get me wrong, it is only a small percentage but regulation is needed.

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