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All Healthcare Assistants to Undergo Universal Basic Training

A new independent report published this week has revealed plans to ensure that all frontline healthcare assistants undergo the same basic training before being able to work unsupervised.

The report showed that there is no universal minimum training standard for healthcare assistants, which has led to a disjointed level of care being provided.

The author of the review, Camilla Cavendish, said: “There are more care assistants than nurses working in England. Many of us will rely on them at some point in our lives, in particular in old age, and we need them to be as good as they can possibly be – especially as some support workers are carrying out procedures which used to be done by nurses, even doctors.

“I have seen many examples of excellent and skilled care, but I have been struck by how disconnected the systems are. The airline industry figured out 30 years ago that the most junior staff could be a critical link in the passenger safety chain. Patient safety in the NHS and social care depends on recognising the contribution of support workers, valuing and training them as part of a team.”

Ms Cavendish commented that: “For people to get the best care, there must be less complexity and duplication and a greater focus on ensuring that support staff are treated with the seriousness they deserve – for some of them are the most caring of all.”

The disjointed care being delivered has been linked to the variation in training that people receive before being allowed to work unaccompanied as a health care professional.

Ms Cavendish commented that: “For people to get the best care, there must be less complexity and duplication and a greater focus on ensuring that support staff are treated with the seriousness they deserve – for some of them are the most caring of all.”

The independent Cavendish report has made a number of recommendations to tackle the problems around the training and support received by carers in different settings, whether care homes, hospitals or home care environments.

The report recommends that to combat the variation in training, and therefore level of care offered, it would be ideal to introduce common training standards of care.  This ‘Certificate of Fundamental Care’ would link health care assistant training to nursing training.

This will not only improve the care offered but also lead to opportunities for care workers to progress into nursing and social care.

Dr Peter Carter, The Royal college of Nursing chief executive, has stated: “With a rising population of older people, this is a workforce without which the NHS could not function.”

There has, however, been some opposition to the Cavendish report’s recommendations.  Noel Williams of Blue Ribbon, an individual health and social care provider, has criticsed the report: “The introduction of a new certificate will become yet another financial issue for owners of homecare agencies and may also cause resistance from the workforce.“