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Independent report suggests that healthcare assistants should be trained

15th July 2013

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

An independent review has recommended that all healthcare assistants and social care support workers be given basic training and earn a standard certificate before they are allowed to care for people without supervision.

The Cavendish Review was set up following the highly publicised Stafford Hospital scandal in an effort to identify where the health and social care systems in England are lacking, and to make recommendations on how these can be improved.

The report, undertaken by journalist Camilla Cavendish, revealed that there is currently no minimum standard of training that healthcare assistants must meet before they are allowed to work with patients unsupervised, presenting a number of risks to the safety of patients, whether they are in hospital, in care homes or living independently at home.

As the NHS looks towards providing better care at home so that people can maintain their independence safely with minimum risk of rehospitalisation, this training for social care support workers and healthcare assistants represents a step forward in the right direction. A combination of using mobility aids and having regular visits from trained and competent care support workers can ensure that many more of us are able to live comfortably and safely in our own homes.

The Cavendish Review uncovered a disparity between the level of training provided to healthcare assistants and the difficulty of tasks that they were asked to perform; there were given no "compulsory or consistent" training to perform basic care needs, and a number were asked to undertake tasks normally performed by nurses or doctors, including taking blood and changing dressings. Although training was given to some staff, the report notes that for many this amounted only to watching a short DVD.

Camilla Cavendish advised that healthcare assistants and social care support workers should be required to earn a "Certificate of Fundamental Care" before caring for patients without supervision, ensuring that carers know how to help people use accessible walk in baths, correctly feed them, turn people in bed to avoid pressure sores and other basic care needs before undertaking these tasks. Not only will this benefit patients, but the qualification will also link to nurse training, making it easier for healthcare assistants to move up the career ladder if they want to and motivating care staff to do their jobs well.

This training should take a "couple of weeks" according to the report, and "ongoing supervision" should follow this for some time after to ensure that patients in all care situations, whether at home or in hospital, are seen to by staff who are properly trained to care for them.

Image Credit: University of Salford (flickr.com)