21 August 2015

6 things you should know about the HCPC’s Education and Training Committee

Education Manager, Tracey Samuel-Smith, explains the key roles of our Education and Training Committee (ETC) and how their decisions can impact education providers.

The ETC is a statutory committee of the Council, and advises on matters relating to education, training and registration. Members of the Committee make up the Education and Training Panels who deal with visitor’s reports from the approval and monitoring processes. Their decisions directly impact education providers so it’s important to understand their role. 

Here’s six things that, as an education provider,
you should know about the ETC:


1. The Education and Training Committee consider recommendations from appointed visitors about whether a programme has met the appropriate standards.

2. The Education and Training Committee comprises six members of Council - three registrant and three lay members (in accordance with our Code of Corporate Governance). As such, not all of our regulated professions are represented on the Committee. Therefore they use visitor recommendations to make a final decision on programme approval and ongoing approval.

3. The Education and Training Committee will consider input from education providers, who have the opportunity to contribute to the decision-making process by submitting observations on any condition or recommendation in a visitors’ report. 

4. The Committee can vary any condition or recommendation in a visitors’ report. For example when they decide a condition exceeds threshold or is not relevant to a standard.

5. The Committee can withdraw approval from any education or training programme that closes or no longer meets our standards.

6. The Education and Training Panel sits ten times per year. Dates of panel meetings are available on the HCPC website. These dates should be considered by education providers planning a visit or undertaking a significant change to a programme.

For more information about the HCPC’s Education and Training Committee, visit www.hcpc-uk.org/aboutus/committees


14 August 2015

What happens if a concern is raised about me?


8 things you should know if a concern is raised about your fitness to practise.

1. The fitness to practise (FtP) process is not designed to punish registrants for past mistakes.

Rather, the process is designed to protect the public from those who are not fit to practise. Finding that a registrant’s fitness to practise is ‘impaired’ means that there are concerns about their ability to practise safely and effectively. In 2013-14, 1.2 per cent of social workers in England were subject to an FtP concern; a very small percentage, indicating that the vast majority of registrants are practising safely and effectively.
 
2. Your case will be allocated to a case manager.

If you find yourself the subject of a fitness to practise allegation, the case will be allocated to a case manager, who will remain neutral. They can explain how the FtP process works and what panels will consider when making their decisions. However they cannot advise you what to include in your response or how you should represent yourself.

3. We will give you an idea of how long our enquiries will take.

We understand that it can be stressful when an FtP concern is raised, and we will provide you with an idea of how long our enquiries will take at each stage of the process. In 2013-14 the length of time of cases referred for a hearing to conclude was an average of 17 and a median of 14 months from receipt of the allegation.

4. You can respond to the allegation in writing within 28 days. It is important to engage with the process so that you can give your side of events.

Once we have all the information we need, we will write to you with full details of the allegation that has been made plus copies of the documents we have collated. You are then invited to respond in writing within 28 days. If you need more time, your case manager can offer a 28-day extension, and if further time is required you can make a written application to the panel. 

5. You may find it helpful to get advice from your union, professional body or a solicitor at the earliest opportunity.

They will be able to provide advice on what to include in the response to the allegations which will be provided to the Investigating Committee Panel.

6. You are entitled to be represented throughout the process.

If the case is referred to a hearing, registrants are entitled to be represented, or can represent themselves, throughout the process. Information and guidance on the fitness to practise hearing process is available on our website, and explained in this useful YouTube video.

7. Cases are scheduled up to four months before the actual hearing.

We try to give registrants at least 60 days’ notice of the hearing date. We will also give you the material that we plan to rely on at the hearing 42 days beforehand. We ask registrants to provide their material 28 days before the hearing date.

8. Details of the hearing and allegations are published four weeks before the hearing is due to start.

We put this information on our website as the hearings are held in public. We do not put the information on the website more than four weeks before the hearing date to make sure we are acting fairly and balancing your rights with our role of protecting the public.

For more information download our brochure information ‘What happens if a concern is raised about me?’ or visit www.hcpc-uk.org/complaints/registrants




22 July 2015

Applying for HCPC registration?

Registration Manager Dushyan Ashton highlights what you need to do to avoid having your application returned as incomplete.

Proud excited faces, mortar boards scattered against a sky-blue background, and groups of students posing in smart black gowns. The numerous photos posted on social media by newly qualified students - now graduating after successfully completing one of our approved programmes - are a happy reminder that graduation season is in full swing.

All those students completing an approved education and training programme are required to join our Register before they can practise using one of our legally protected titles.

During this current period our Registration Department will receive lots of new applications. We aim to process applications within ten working days of receipt of a complete application. This ensures that newly qualified professionals are added to our online Register as soon as possible.

It is important to make sure that your application is complete before submitting it to us. Common mistakes include failing to provide the appropriate documentation, or not including a fee with the application form. Incomplete applications will be returned for resubmission, which could potentially delay your entry to the HCPC Register.

To avoid this happening follow our checklist:
  • Enclose two certified copies of documents to confirm your identity; one document should contain your photograph, one should provide your current address.
  • All signatures must be original and dated within the last six months.
  • Provide certified proof of any name changes; e.g. a certified photocopy of a relevant name change document such as a marriage certificate or deed poll.
  • A fee must be submitted with your application form.
  • The character reference page must be completed with your details and your referee’s details.
  • If you answered ‘yes’ to any question in section 3 (character and health self- declarations / vetting and barring schemes), you must provide additional information.

For further information about applying to join the HCPC Register
visit www.hcpc-uk.org/apply

14 July 2015

Fitness to practise: advice for employers and managers


HCPC's Head of Fitness to Practise Service Improvement, Sarita Wilson, highlights 10 things you should know if you have concerns about an employee’s fitness to practise.

1. If a registrant is ‘fit to practise’ this means that they have the skills, knowledge and character to practise their profession safely and effectively.

Fitness to practise (FtP) isn’t just about professional performance; it also includes acts by a registrant which may affect public protection or confidence in the profession. For example, if a registrant has been cautioned or convicted for a criminal offence.

2. The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) will consider cases which question whether a registrant’s fitness to practise is ‘impaired’, or negatively affected.

This could be by misconduct, a lack of competence, a caution or conviction, the registrant’s physical or mental health, or a decision made by another regulator responsible for health and social care.

3. Incidents involving employment issues which don’t affect the safety or wellbeing of service users do not need to be referred to HCPC.

For example: lateness or poor time-keeping (unless it has a direct effect on service users); personality conflicts (as long as there is no evidence of bullying or harassment); sickness or other absence from work.

4. Concerns should be reported to the HCPC if…

…the behaviour or actions of a registrant have raised concerns about their fitness to practise; you have dismissed or suspended a registrant; you have taken the decision to downgrade the status of a registrant (for example, you place them under supervision).

5. Fitness to practise and employment processes are different and can result in different outcomes.

Issues that cause you as an employer or manager to take disciplinary action may not result in the HCPC placing any sanction on the registrant. In other cases, HCPC may take more serious action than you, which means that the registrant may not be able to work in their profession or has restrictions placed on their practice.

6. Letting HCPC know about your concerns does not necessarily mean that fitness to practise proceedings will begin immediately.

Neither does it mean you would have to suspend or end your own procedures. In many instances it will be more appropriate for HCPC to wait until you have finished your procedures. Even if HCPC does not immediately pursue an allegation, they are better placed to protect the public.

7. To raise a concern you should fill in an employer referral form.

This can be downloaded at www.hcpc-uk.org/complaints/
employers/raiseaconcern and emailed or posted to HCPC. Anything sent to HCPC will be copied to the registrant you are referring so that they can respond. If there is anything you would prefer not to be sent to the registrant, you should notify HCPC.

8. If you raise a concern with HCPC you can expect everyone involved to be treated fairly and be given an explanation as to what will happen at each stage.

You will also be given details of a case manager who you can contact should you have any questions.

9. You may be required to provide a witness statement or give evidence.

If the case is referred to a final hearing, you or members of your staff may need to meet with the HCPC’s solicitor to provide a witness statement. You may also be required to come to the hearing and give evidence. HCPC will organise your travel and accommodation if this is the case.

10. Employing a registrant who is the subject of a current FtP investigation.

Being the subject of an FtP investigation does not automatically make a registrant unsuitable for employment as they can continue to practise unless the HCPC has imposed an interim order preventing them from practising or placing restrictions on their practice. You can find out if a registrant has an interim order made against them by searching the HCPC Register.

For further information and advice for employers and managers visit
www.hcpc-uk.org/complaints/employers

30 June 2015

Welcome from one Chair to another

I’m told, on the best authority (knowing nothing about football) that England has a reputation for keeping its goalkeepers until they are well past their best. As I stand down from my role as Chair of HCPC after nine years, I hope very much that I am not in that category. I have had a fascinating and privileged time at HCPC, and have been part of huge growth and change. I am grateful to my colleagues on the Council and to the employees of HCPC, many of whom I have worked with over many years. It gives me great pleasure to welcome Elaine Buckley, from Sheffield Hallam University, who will step into the role on the 1 July, and I can think of no-one who comes to the job with more enthusiasm, commitment and clear understanding of what regulation is for.

At its best, professional regulation exists for one purpose; to safeguard the public, to make sure professionals are doing their job to a consistent standard, so that the public know what to expect and get what they expect. Regulators are the gatekeepers, the patrols and the judges of the professions. It is for others to be the promoters, advocates and educators. Most of the time, this collaborative approach works well. It would be foolhardy to suggest that there are not many challenges along the way, and tensions will always arise between those who regulate and those who are regulated. For me, the essential components of success are embedded in values. Values define the personality of an organisation, and if people have clarity of purpose in what they do they are less likely to become distracted and pulled towards work that is best carried out by others.

And finally, I would want to add one more observation. I believe that the HCPC has never, and will never, settle for the status quo. It will always be changing, moving forward, recognising that whilst change is unsettling, it is part of the discomfort that goes with improvement.

Anna van der Gaag
Chair

16 March 2015

AMHP training and education programmes: how can the conditions set during 2013/14 approval visits inform and guide education providers?

This was one of the key questions considered by our education team following the first year review of approval visits to AMHP programmes. Education Manager, Ben Potter, explains.

As part of the transfer of the General Social Care Council’s (GSCC) regulatory functions to the HCPC in August 2012, we became responsible for approving and monitoring AMHP education and training programmes in England.

All approved AMHP programmes are required to meet our criteria and conditions can be placed on programmes that do not. These conditions must be met before we can approve or continue to approve a programme.

During the 2013-14 academic year we considered 17 programmes at 11 education providers. We are scheduled to visit a further ten transitionally approved programmes at eight providers in 2014-15.

All AMHP education and training programmes visited in 2013/14 have now demonstrated how they have met any conditions placed on them – thus demonstrating how they meet our criteria – and are now approved.

To help, inform and guide education providers for the future, here we consider the two areas that incurred the highest number of conditions so that we can provide further understanding of certain aspects of our approval criteria. Our full report – Review of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) approval visits to approved mental health professional (AMHP) education and training programmes in the 2013-14 academic year – is available to download.

Practice placements

As an education provider, you need to own and manage practice placements, including policies and procedures around approval and monitoring of placement settings; the staff in place; and ensuring that placement settings provide a safe and supportive environment.

When setting conditions in these areas, we often found that education providers would not own the policies, or would make assumptions that the placements were well-resourced in terms of staff, due to them being in statutory settings.

There were also assumptions by education providers that placements were providing a safe and supportive environment for students, due to the post registration nature of these programmes meaning that students were often employees of the organisation that provided their placements.

When we applied conditions in this area, education providers had often not considered that these employees / students need to be supported differently when undertaking activities to support their AMHP training in their place of work, when compared to how they need to be supported when carrying out their day to day role.

Documentation

Documentation underpins how programmes run in every area. We require documentation to communicate expectations about how a programme will interact with its stakeholders – including students, placement providers, and staff – and that it clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of all parties in the running of the programme.

As an education provider, if your documentation is of a poor standard, we are unable to make a well-informed judgement about whether particular criterion are met. When we are unable to fully assess and reach a decision, we need to apply a condition to ensure that the criterion is met.

How can understanding these key issues help to inform a future approval visit?

As an organisation, we have learnt a great deal from these visits and about how we will aim to help, inform and guide education providers participating in future visits.

You can find a range of guidance about our approval visits on the HCPC website. There are also online resources, featuring case studies and presentations from our seminars delivered to education providers in autumn 2014.

If your AMHP programme is being approved in 2015, or if you would like advice about the AMHP approval criteria, you can contact the member of our team allocated to manage your approval visit, or you can email education@hcpc-uk.org.


09 March 2015

Top 10 tips for completing your CPD profile

Have you been selected for CPD audit? Here’s ten top tips for completing your profile.

1. Include a dated list of your professional development activities within the audit period - the last two years of registration. If you have any gaps of three months or more, they will need to be explained.

2. Don’t just describe your day-to-day work. Choose a range of different activities you have undertaken over the past two years (between four and six in total) and describe what you learned from each.

3. Provide good evidence for each of the activities. Reflective logs, case studies, presentations, certificates and feedback from your service users would all be relevant.

4. Remember, it is about quality not quantity - choose evidence which shows how you think you have met the standards.

5. Ensure confidentiality when including your evidence - make sure that none of your evidence or your statement includes references to named individuals.

6. Make sure that the evidence you send will back up the statements made in your profile. It should show that you have undertaken the activities you have referred to, and should also show how they have improved the quality of your work and benefited service users.

7. Be concise, but provide sufficient detail on how your learning activities had an impact on your service, and be clear about how each standard has been met.

8. Keep a personal log of your continuing professional development, so that if you move jobs or your circumstances change you will still have access to it.

9. Don’t forget that the summary of your practice history should help to show the assessors how your development activities are linked to your work.

10. The council’s approach to assessing professional development focuses on the outcome of your activities - how they have benefited you and your service users, not how many hours or points you have. It’s up to you, along with your manager, to think about what you need to do to keep up to date in your area of practice.

For more information and advice for completing your CPD profile, visit
www.hcpc-uk.org/registrants/cpd.