There’s an interesting article in the Guardian today, headlined ‘The General Social Care Council must be saved’. It seemed a curious headline because I didn’t know it was something that was particularly passionately felt so for that, I was drawn to it.
I’ve been more than a little ambivalent towards the GSCC and openly critical on occasion. There is no doubt it has had a definitely bumpy ride through it’s first few years.
Nick Johnston, the author of the piece is the Chief Executive of the Social Care Association – a member organisation representing all those who work in the social care sector across the board.
His take and perspective is useful because it is far broader than the scope of, for example, BASW which is specifically aimed at social workers.
Initially the GSCC was to have registered all social care workers. The issues raised with registering just social workers and social work students proved to be difficult enough and the idea of registering all social care workers was just too over-ambitious. Unfortunately. I say that because I did and do genuinely believe that registration would have afforded better standards and training across the board.There were issues and concerns about the transitory nature of some of the jobs within social care but those were issues that needed to be addressed in my mind as well as the status of social care workers which is perceived as being fairly low. I speak from having been worked in residential care for years before I qualified. I care desperately about the standards of care workers across the board. But it wasn’t to happen.
Despite the changes in the scope of registrations, the GSCC has at its heart, social care and while a lot of the focus was aimed towards social workers, the ethics and values were specifically aimed across the board at social care staff.
Last year, the Labour government had proposed switching the GSCC to the GSWC (General Social Work Council) and in the words of Johnston give up on 92% of the workforce (people who work in social care but are not qualified social workers) and pass them to the Health Professions Council (HPC)
But now, the situation with the new government has changed and there will be no GSWC. Social Workers’ registrations will transfer to the HPC and there is no talk of what will happen to those who work in social care and are not social workers.
It’s a point that I hadn’t actually been aware of. I didn’t realise that social care workers were to have transferred to the HPC and that they are now not going to do so.
One of my reasons for ambivalence about the passing of the GSCC was because, in my closeted ‘social work’ world, I don’t have an issue with professional development and training splitting from regulation and was expecting the College of Social Work to pick up some of the more relevant tasks from the GSCC – such as the development of post-qualifying training, standards and codes of practice and development of a robust professional identity and purpose.
But I didn’t consider the rest of the social care workforce until I read this article. I always felt that regulation and support is as desperately needed in this sector and for all my criticisms (and I have many) of the GSCC , it was a more all-encompassing than any replacement might be.
Perhaps the scope of the College of Social Work may or could be extended in some way. Perhaps the Social Care Association – which I know is involved in the consultation process for the College, will ensure that the views of their members are not lost.
There is a feeling of ‘The GSCC is not a perfect child, but it’s OUR child’ about the article. My counter-argument about the GSCC is that it never was ‘ours’ if ‘ours’ includes me. The chief executives and governance had little if any input from front line practitioners – yes, there were consultants, high level managers and academics but to be ‘our’ organisation, there has to be some kind of front-line representation.
As for Johnston’s views, I think the last line of his article sums up perfectly the attitude that has been taken in this matter, along with so many others
The views here are not necessarily those of the other 1,499,999 people in social care. I don’t know their take on the culling of the GSCC, but nor does anyone else. No one has asked them.
There was and has been no consultation. No discussion. Nothing.
And increasingly, that’s the way the government is rolling. Cuts. No discussion. No planning and no defence.
Should the GSCC be saved? Too late, I suspect. It may have grown into something else more effective but the best way of preserving and carving a place in the decision-making process is by being a part of it.
And for the record, the online consultation about the College of Social Work which is to be established will be drawing to a close on 10th September so get your thoughts in!