27 July 2017

Changes to our Standards of Education and Training

Policy Officer Hollie French breaks down the newly released revised Standards of Education and Training and Guidance, highlighting additions and changes.

Our Standards of Education and Training (SETs) are the standards against which we assess education and training programmes.  A programme which meets the SETs allows learners who successfully complete that programme to meet the standards of proficiency for their profession, and are eligible to apply to the HCPC for registration.

A number of changes and additions have been made to the SETs after consultation with key stakeholders including education providers, practice educators, HCPC visitors, professional bodies, newly qualified professionals and service users and carers.

Key changes include:

• new standards requiring interprofessional education, learner involvement and supporting learners to raise concerns;
• strengthening the link between the SETs and our Standards of conduct, performance and ethics;
• making key terminology broader, inclusive and up to date with current terminology used in the sector – for example using ‘learner’ rather than ‘student’; and ‘practice-based learning’ rather than ‘practice placement’.

Alongside the SETs we have produced detailed guidance. The guidance has been written for education providers who are or will be involved in our approval and monitoring processes, but it will also be useful for practice education providers and others who work with and alongside education providers.

We are confident that the standards are fit for purpose and reflect safe and effective professional practice and would like to thank everybody that took the time to provide us with feedback.

To see the revised SETs and access the guidance, click here: http://www.hcpc-uk.org/education/providers/setsresources/

18 July 2017

Meet the HCPC – Southampton

HCPC Chair Elaine Buckley discusses the importance of our Meet the HCPC events in meeting registrants on a regular basis and our recent visit to Southampton.

Our Meet the HCPC events form are a vital part of our stakeholder activity to get out and meet the health and care professionals that are on our Register. We have been doing these events across the UK since 2004 and they are crucial for us to hear about registrant experiences, issues and challenges. This month we were in Southampton to explain what we do at the HCPC and explore with participants what we can all do to help prevent fitness to practise concerns.

Despite the weather, we were joined by colleagues from 13 of the professions we regulate with the majority being social workers. The energy, enthusiasm and engagement in the room across both sessions and during the workshop on how we all work together to prevent fitness to practise concerns was encouraging. We also have some valuable feedback from all those involved which we can now reflect on as an organisation.

Through the course of the discussions across both sessions there were several take home messages.  With those being that 76% of complaints we receive are about conduct and behaviour and not about competency and that good quality and focused education is key to registrants maintaining effective and safe practice. 

During the discussions, there were themes arising round the fact that we all needed to be alert in recognising the signs when colleagues may be struggling and the need to engage in supportive conversations. Supportive working environments are critical in ensuring practitioners can raise concerns and seek help. Informal peer mentoring through to formal supervision were all other ways to help and support each other. Some of the discussion also highlighted the importance of maintaining professional networks especially when practicing in isolated settings. 

The comments from participants were encouraging in that they felt it was helpful to meet people from the HCPC and they were pleased to hear that fitness to practise is only a small part of the work we do. The opportunity to take publications relevant to their profession was also valuable as were the discussions around the sorts of research we do.

As an evidence informed regulator, it is crucial we commission research into issues relevant to our role. It is the outcomes of the research we do that will help us make better decisions, drive continuous improvement and assist us in engaging with our stakeholders.

We’d like to thank everyone that attended the event and for their valuable contributions at both sessions.

Our next Meet the HCPC event will be in Eastbourne on Wednesday 27 September 2017.

If you’d like any of the publications, reports or research from HCPC, visit our Publications section.

16 June 2017

myHCPC app – how we’re helping you access the HCPC from your pocket

Web and digital officer, Becky Glass shares the latest about the myHCPC app update.

The myHCPC app is designed especially for HCPC registrants and lets you carry everything you need to know about the HCPC in your pocket.

Earlier this year we set out to redesign the app, originally launched in 2014, to make it more practical, useful and modern.

The more registrants use the app, the more they’ll access the information within – so our aim was to ensure the app was both engaging and fit-for-purpose. We invited registrants and HCPC employees to feed back on the app’s structure, design and content. This feedback resulted in several significant fixes and additions, and we launched the new and improved version in March.

A few months on and the app is continuing to help HCPC registrants feel more confident about how they practice their profession. Here are a few key ways the app can help your practice:

• The home screen has been redesigned: it’s visually engaging and now functions as a dashboard, so users have an overview of the app’s content at a glance and can instantly access standards of practice and standards of conduct performance and ethics.
• The app now allows users to identify their profession, which pulls through the standards and guidance relevant to them. No more scrolling through irrelevant professions.
• Navigation options are now icons at the top of every page. Users can also bookmark pages or access our latest newsletter instantly.

However we want to hear more about how you use the app, or what you’d like to see added or improved. The aim is to make our information, standards and news as easily accessible for our registrants as possible, so if you have any feedback please contact web@hcpcuk.org

To download search myHCPC in the app store on Android or Apple.

30 March 2017

Why the Standards of proficiency for social workers in England are so important

Social worker and HCPC Council member Robert Templeton discusses the challenges of social work regulation and the professional importance of a strong set of Standards of Proficiency.

One of the challenges for professional social work regulation is that for the most part the public, the media and the government are only aware of its importance when things go wrong. This is due to a variety of reasons perhaps one being the regulatory landscape, which is complicated and often shrouded in impenetrable language. However the ideas behind professional regulation are simple, it is about protecting the public, in other words stopping bad things from happening.

The Heath and Care Professions Council (HCPC) Standards of proficiency for social workers in England play an important role in public protection as they establish threshold standards necessary for safe and effective practice. They set out what all social workers in England should know, understand and be able to do when they complete their social work training so that they can register with the HCPC. They set clear expectations of a social worker’s knowledge and abilities when they start practicing. Each profession regulated by HCPC has a set of proficiency standards, which run alongside the overarching standards of standards of conduct, performance and ethics and standards for continuing professional development, which apply to all the professions HCPC regulates.

The standards of proficiency for Social Workers in England were first published in 2012 prior to the opening of the HCPC Register on 1 August 2012. HCPC committed to reviewing the standards of proficiency once they had concluded a three-year programme of visits to pre-registration education and training programmes previously approved by the General Social Care Council (GSCC).

The key challenge when writing and reviewing these standards is to ensure they reflect the values of social work, the complexity of practice and diversity of contexts and settings in which social workers practice. They must also reflect existing requirements and training provisions. Under the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001 legislation, registration with the HCPC means that someone is able to use the protected title ‘social worker’. As a result, the standards of proficiency describe the knowledge and skills needed to practise as a newly qualified social worker at a threshold level.

There are similar standards published by other organisations, whilst complementary, they often have a different purpose. For example since the closure of The College of Social Work the British Association of Social Workers now own the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF). Whilst the standards of proficiency are about the threshold required at entry to the profession, the PCF is designed to support social workers throughout their careers. The PCF acts as an overarching framework by describing the capabilities expected of a social worker at key career stages. These include professionalism, values and ethics, knowledge, intervention and skills and professional leadership. There is some overlap with the standards of proficiency because the PCF includes a description of the competencies expected by the end of a social work student’s last placement.

There is also the Knowledge and Skills Statements (KSS) published by the Chief Social Workers for Children and Families and for Adults. In contrast to the standards of proficiency they describe the knowledge and abilities expected of social workers who work with children and families, and those who work with adults. They describe what is required by the end of a newly qualified social worker’s first year in practice - the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE).

As part of the review, HCPC looked at the PCF and KSS to identify whether there were any gaps in the standards of proficiency or any existing standards that should be amended. The standards were also compared to those the HCPC had recently reviewed for the other professions, such a Psychologists and Occupational Therapists, to check whether there were any changes made which would be equally applicable to the social work standards.

Under the Children and Social Work Bill regulation of social workers in England will move from the HCPC to become the responsibility of a new organisation called Social Work England. However, until this happens HCPC continues to be our regulator.  This means HCPC’s Standards of proficiency together with the Standards of conduct, performance and ethics and the standards for continuing professional development are the standards which every registrant must meet in order to become registered, and must continue to meet in order to maintain their registration. You can find more information on the government’s proposed changes here.

16 January 2017

Revised social worker SOPs: What are they and what’s changed?

Hollie Latham, HCPC Policy Officer talks about the revised Standards of proficiency (SOPs) for social workers in England, how they were reviewed and what the changes mean for registrants.

What are the SOPs?
The HCPC have revised the Standards of proficiency for social workers in England. The standards set out the threshold knowledge, understanding and skills required for a social worker at entry to the Register. The main way we use these standards is when we approve pre-registration social work programmes which lead to registration with us.
Once registered, we expect all social workers to continue to meet the standards which are relevant to their scope of practice.

How did we review them?
These standards were first published in 2012, and we review them regularly. The most recent review included engaging with stakeholders such as professional bodies, employers, education providers, charities, service users and carers and newly qualified social workers via surveys and group discussion sessions. We then held a three month long public consultation and received 125 responses.
What’s changed?
 There are a limited number of changes to the document itself, including some minor amendments to standards, and a small number of new standards in order to reflect developments in both education and practice.

New standards include:
• Be able to identify and apply strategies to build professional resilience.
• Understand the principles of information governance and be aware of the safe and effective use of health and social care information.
• Understand the concept of leadership and its application to practice.

What does this mean for social workers?
Social workers need to continue to meet the standards of proficiency which are relevant to their particular scope of practice. However, we don’t dictate how they should do so. There is generally more than one way in which each standards can be met and the way in which registrants meet them may change over time due to technology and evolving methods of practice.

We often receive questions from registrants concerned they may not meet our standards. As an autonomous professional you need to make informed and reasoned decisions about your practice. This can mean seeking advice or support from education providers, employers, colleagues, professional bodies, unions and others. So long as registrants do this and can justify their decisions in practice if asked, it is very unlikely that a registered social worker would not meet our standards.

05 December 2016

A breakdown of the HCPC Fitness to Practise Annual Report 2016

John Barwick, Head of Fitness to Practise Operations at HCPC, discusses the findings presented in this year’s Fitness to Practise (FtP) Annual Report and highlights key areas of work and activities undertaken by our FtP department.

The Fitness to Practise Annual Report 2016 covers the period of 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016. The report provides information about the way our FtP department deals with allegations against our registrant’s fitness to practise their profession.

Here, we provide an overview of the statistics relating to those allegations, the work we do in progressing cases through our FtP process and highlight key activities undertaken in order to continually improve and review our procedures.

In 2015-16, the number of individuals on our register increased by 3.3 per cent from 2014-15. However over the same period there was a decrease of 1.9 per cent in the number of new cases, with 2,127 cases received in total. That equates to 0.62 per cent of our registrants, or one in 162, being subject to concerns.

In 2015-16:
• 1,661 cases were closed before they were considered by a panel of the HCPC’s Investigating Committee (ICP) as they did not meet our Standard of Acceptance.
• 787 cases were considered by an ICP.
• 320 final hearings were concluded. Of these, 84 were discontinued or not well founded, five resulted in no further action and two resulted in the registrant being removed from the register due to fraudulent /incorrect entry. Imposed sanctions included 33 cautions, 42 conditions of practise orders, 60 suspensions and 69 strike-offs. 25 cases resulted in voluntary removal.
• 346 interim order and review hearings were concluded.

The number of cases considered by an ICP and the number of final hearings decreased from 2014-15. This reflects the increase in the number of cases that were closed at the initial stages of the fitness to practise process for not meeting the standard of acceptance, and the fact that there was a higher volume of cases going to an ICP in 2014-15 following a 25 per cent increase in the number of cases received in 2013-14.

Key areas of work and activities undertaken in 2015-16

• We have completed a review of our Standard of acceptance policy, the purpose of the review was to ensure the policy reflected the changing nature of the cases we receive. We also developed a Standard of acceptance explained fact sheet.
• We have updated our referral forms to provide more guidance on the information that should be provided by the complainant. We have also updated our How to raise a concern brochure.
• A continued focus on developing information sources for employers has been undertaken, with the revision of our brochure for employers and the development of FtP specific website content.
• We signed a new Memoranda of Understanding with NHS Protect and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority in Northern Ireland.
• In January 2016 we acquired a new building which now provides a dedicated hearings centre for FtP hearings.

Future work

• We have been developing proposals for further enhancing the independence of the adjudications which will be considered by HCPC’s Council in 2016–17.
• Ensuring the continued timely progression and conclusion of cases, whilst ensuring ongoing public protection, will be a strategic focus for 2016–17. The primary focus of our workplan in the coming year is the introduction of greater specialisation in the management of cases through the FtP process.
• We will continue engagement with organisations where we have a common objective of ensuring the safety and wellbeing of members of the public.
• We will continue to develop our case study material as well as updating our What happens if a concern is raised about me? brochure.

14 November 2016

Have you been selected for CPD? - Part Two


Here is the final blog piece on commonly asked questions about continuing professional development (CPD) and the HCPC audit process from three of our CPD Assessors Felicity Court, Dr Mick Harper and Emma Barclay.

What CPD advice would you give somebody even if they have not been selected for audit?
  • Make sure you have a system in place for recording a log / list of all the CPD activities you do. For example I have a shortcut on my desktop to a simple table where I can add a brief description of CPD activities as they occur. It’s best to be ready, have a system that works for you in your day to day work. If your professional body has a mechanism for doing this then make use of it.
  • A few minutes (e.g. once a month) can pay dividends if you are selected for CPD assessment. It also means you do not have to rely on your memory/trawling through old diaries to recall what you have done over a two year period!
  • When recording CPD think broadly about the range of learning activities this can include. It is easy to get ‘stuck’ on course attendance’ but assessors are very interested to read about many other examples of activities that illustrate reflective practice. This can be as simple as describing a conversation you had with a colleague that may have challenged your thinking, led you to explore the evidence base and may then have led to a change in practice.
What would you recommend to a registrant who says they do not have time to complete CPD activities on top of their daily workload?
  • The bottom line is that registrants must undertake CPD to stay registered with us and there are CPD standards that must be adhered to. 
  • We know that everyone is busy at work these days however there is also the fact we have a duty of care to our patients and service users to ensure that we maintain our professional skills and stay abreast of developments in our areas of work. 
  • You'll be surprised how many things you do every week that contribute to your CPD that you may not be recognising so make sure you familiarise yourself with the examples provided at the back of the HCPC CPD guide. So it could be a conversation about new techniques / processes; new equipment that you have been taught on or an article that has been shared with you but of course it doesn’t have to be a specific task. CPD is what it is to you as an individual as long as it seeks to benefit you in your role and the services users you engage with.
What advice would you give someone who says their employer does not give them much time off to complete CPD activities?
  • It is important that employers are made aware that maintaining CPD is a key aspect of re-registration and should be supported if their employees are to meet the necessary standards. As a Registrant you have the responsibility to ensure that you continue to meet the standards and are entitled to perform your role and enjoy your protected title.
  • It’s a common misconception that your employer has responsibility to ensure that you continue to meet your regulatory standards, or to offer you courses for your own CPD or time to undertake your own activities. Make sure you use any 1:1’s or appraisals to identify and capture your learning needs and then your employer is perhaps more likely to support you to take some time to complete them. That said be savvy and organised and make sure you are capturing all the day to day CPD activities.
  •  Think of discussions you may have with colleagues that lead you to trying a new method/approach with a patient or perhaps internet searches you may do to investigate equipment solutions for a patient along with briefings you may be sent by email that alter your practice in some way.

What would you say to a registrant if they asked whether they are expected to attend expensive courses as a part of their CPD activity?
  • It’s important to remember that assessors are looking for a mixture of learning activities and many of them have no cost at all.
  • It’s not necessary to attend expensive courses. There are plenty of other ways to meet the CPD standards. Be creative. Think of things like job shadowing, e-learning, case discussions and reading you may have done. The smallest activities often impact on the registrant’s knowledge, ability and service delivery. Reading an article and reflecting on your role, making changes based on evidence to benefit you and the service user is as legitimate an activity as a 5-day conference.
What do you think the benefits of completing CPD are?
  • Colleagues who have been selected have told me that after the initial ‘why me?!” response, they have actually found that reflecting on their achievements over the previous two year cycle has proved an affirming process.
  • It can be a great way of maintaining your confidence, motivation and skill as a health care professional. Embrace it and recognise it as part of your daily work and hopefully it won't seem like just another job on the do list! Whatever stage we may be at in our careers it is important that we do not ‘stagnate’ in our practice.
  • We have a great responsibility to discharge our professional duties to our service users in an accepted, safe and up-to-date way and CPD supports us to do this. In addition, I see registrants who come into annual reviews at work and take in their CPD profiles as a starting point to discuss their careers. This is a fantastic way of showing your manager that you know your own strengths and limitations and demonstrates that you have thought out your personal future needs. You are much more likely to be supported by employers if you take control of your own career in this way.
There are a range of resources available to support registrants undertaking CPD on our dedicated webpages and on our YouTube channel, visit www.hcpc-uk.org/cpd.