The Academy of Care Practitioners - the story so far…
The vast majority of those working in social care are vocationally qualified or working towards their NVQ qualification in their work place. Research carried out across Wales has shown that social care workers believe their work should be recognised as a profession and many have said ‘why can’t we have our own professional body to support and represent us?’
The desire of professional social care workers to be part of a representative professional body was born out at a series of focus groups that were held across Wales throughout 2007.
The Academy of Care Practitioners pilot scheme is a positive response to those requests. There is a growing belief that the challenging and complex nature of working in social care is not always fully recognised by society at large as the profession it undoubtedly is. The many diverse descriptions of a social care worker eg care assistant, carer, support worker to name but a few, appears to be unhelpful.
This lack of a clear identity for those working in social care has led to a confusion of the nature and role of the work undertaken. The fact that social care workers as a profession do not have a specific professional organisation to support them is now seen by many as something that should be addressed, not least in view of the decision by the Welsh Assembly Government to register social care workers.
The concept of creating a professional organisation for vocationally qualified social care workers has led to establishing a ‘pilot scheme’ to identify what care practitioners want from their own professional organisation.
A small steering committee has been overseeing the development work that underpins the pilot scheme, the financial support of a small number of commercial organisations and support from the Care Council for Wales has enabled the concept of the Academy as a professional body to develop a pilot scheme.
During 2008 over 1000 care practitioners engaged through the pilot scheme to assist the steering committee to develop a professional organisation for care practitioners that will meet the needs and aspirations of vocationally qualified social care workers in Wales and provide them with the support they deserve.
The Academy of Care Practitioners has three major objectives:
- Provide a reference point for Care Practitioners
- Provide value, status and influence by belonging to a professional organisation
- Promote consultation and representation at a local, regional and national level
- Provide communication channels and support between Social Care Practitioner
- Support members by offering advice and providing information
- Provide regular publications, via hardcopy and using ICT and other technology
- Hold Care Practitioner seminars, workshops and conferences
- Provide access to research and reports and links to professional and statuary bodies
- Encourage and promote continual professional development
- Promote career progression via structured horizontal and vertical career pathways
- Provide careers, learning and development advice and guidance
- Provide information about local and accessible training courses and events
- Empower members through recognition via celebratory Care Awards