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Leading Health and Safety, Moving and Handling, First Aid Training and Assessments

Will the new Care Certificate really achieve its aims?

Skills for Care Logo

Written by Paul Titcomb

March 3, 2015

According to Skills for Care, the new Care Certificate sets out explicitly the learning outcomes, competences and standards of care expected by health and social care staff, stating that the services they deliver should be caring, compassionate and reflect quality care.

Administration and achievement of the Care Certificate is managed by individual care managers (or any occupationally competent person), and is portable, so it may be taken from one employer to another.

Can it really be that simple?

The idea of the Care Certificate is that it is designed, to prepare carers to work to a safe and competent standard, focusing especially on those new to the industry. Reading through all 15 Standards which must be met in order to achieve the award, does it expect too much in too short a time frame; 12 weeks?

Let’s consider just one learning outcome: Moving and Handling; Standard 13: 13.3.

13.3 Move and assist safely
13.3a Identify key pieces of legislation that relate to moving and assisting
13.3b List tasks relating to moving and assisting that they are not allowed to carry out until they are competent
13.3c Demonstrate how to move and assist people and objects safely, maintaining the individual’s dignity, and in line with legislation and agreed ways of working.

13.3a Company Policy is supposed to reflect the legal requirements of any organisation, so rather than swamp new carers with lists of legislation, would having a sound knowledge of their Moving and Handling Policy be more appropriate and manageable in terms of information retention?

13.3b Of course it is important for all carers to work within their remit and level of responsibility at the time. Never-the-less could this criteria have been more valuable if it asked carers to consider the 4 key elements associated with assessing risk, thinking about:

The Task(s) to be undertaken

Their own Individual capabilities

The characteristics of the Load (person) to be moved and

The Environmental factors which could prove to be harmful

Company Policy should inform carers of what they can and cannot do until authorised by their manager/supervisor. Would understanding how to assess risks for themselves have been more beneficial?

However, the real issues lie with the final assessment criteria:

13.3c Demonstrate how to move and assist people and objects safely, maintaining the individual’s dignity, and in line with legislation and agreed ways of working.
When considering the requirements of this part of the Care Certificate it is worth remembering that Moving and Handling in the UK is a subject which is not regulated.

This means that anyone, regardless of qualification, experience or occupational competency may deliver moving and handling training. Most people gasp at the thought, but go on to say that cuts in budgets mean they have to source the least expensive training options for their staff. The saying “You get what you pay for” comes to mind, and scrimping on training often means it is more expensive in the long run. The latest trend which appears to be gathering rapid momentum in the health and social care sector, is to send staff on a ‘12 subjects in 1 day’ course which includes Moving and Handling and Basic Life Support, it costs around £50, staff are only away from work for 1 day and they receive 12 certificates! So tempting! So dangerous???

Demonstrating how to move objects safely can be achieved in a class room setting, even if the trainer is somewhat lacking in their own knowledge and skills; however, demonstrating how to move people safely is another ball game altogether. The moving and handling of people is a highly complex subject in its own right, with many back care advisors and professional moving and handling trainer/assessors having teaching qualifications, a professional health or social care background, several years’ clinical experience and in some instances, an MSc in the subject.

As the Care Certificate relies on care managers (or designated others) to sign off carers as having met the necessary criteria, the quality of what carers are actually demonstrating must be considered. Do they actually have the knowledge and skills to demonstrate evidence based current best practice when assisting people to move? How has their knowledge base been checked, and how have their practical skills been assessed: over what scenarios, using what equipment, with what diversity of service user/client/resident/patient etc. etc? The Care Certificate asks carers to demonstrate that they can perform to agreed ways of working, but makes no mention of the need to follow care plans or risk assessments.

Points for consideration:

  1. Does the Care Certificate ask too much of new carers in the first 12 weeks of their employment? Is it really achievable within this time frame?
  2. Is it right to expect care managers to sign off their own staff or should this be undertaken via at least some independent assessment?
  3. How can managers be confident they and their staff are in receipt of moving and handling training/information which supports evidence based current best practice (EBCBP)?
  4. Should the moving and handling of people and the training to support best practice remain un-regulated?
  5. If EBCBP does not form part of a care providers moving and handling strategy, what are the potential implications?
  6. What difference will the Care Certificate really have on the standards of care in the UK?

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