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New Academy for social care workers

Ambitious plans to set up a professional body for people who work in social care are set to become a reality.

The creation of the Academy of Care Practitioners was announced today (Friday, April 20) by Care Forum Wales at a conference at Glyndwr University, in Wrexham.

The new organisation will be officially launched at the Senedd in Cardiff on Monday, May 21, a reception hosted by the Minister for Health and Social Services, Lesley Griffiths, and the Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services, Gwenda Thomas.

The news was welcomed by social care worker Tracey Green, from Wrexham. She said: "I think the support of a professional body like the Academy of Care Practitioners will be important to everybody who works in social care.

"We are currently one of the few professions, unlike social work and nursing, that does not enjoy the benefits of a professional body which will also help to raise the profile and the status of people employed in the care sector."

It was a sentiment echoed by Teresa Pritchard, a who took part in a pilot project for the Academy of Care Practitioners. She said: "When you are promoting career pathways and personal development, an independent voice and somewhere where you can go for advice and support is very valuable. - sometimes you need more than just the employer or the regulator.

"As a concept, it's been widely supported for some time and the pilot project we have undertaken has shown overwhelming support of care practitioners themselves.

"It is widely acknowledged that professional bodies can be a real source of support and greatly assist in promoting best practice and raising standards to the benefit of service users."

Mario Kreft MBE, Chair of Care Forum Wales, said: "We talk a lot about raising the status and the professionalism of the social care workforce.

"One of the biggest issues in our view is that vocationally qualified social care workers are a profession without their own professional body. We believe it's about time that was put right.

"Due to the nature of the demanding job, it's unrealistic to expect the care practitioners themselves in Wales to be able to bring about the creation of their own body.

"It is time social care workers were given some assistance to make this a reality.

"It's really about providing a support mechanism, helping people with their personal and professional development, and gaining added value benefits.

"This innovation will create the first body of its type for social care workers in the UK and it is fitting that it should be created in Wales where we have seen a great deal of innovation in recent years.

"We are delighted that Professor Mike Scott, Vice Chancellor of Glyndwr University, has seen fit to support this initiative for the first two years while it establishes itself.

"It's very important that something like this is seen as independent, that it's not part of any employer group, so its home for the foreseeable future will be Glyndwr University."

Professor Michael Scott, Glyndŵr University Vice-Chancellor said: "Glyndŵr University has recognised the need for an independent body helping to assure the profession, the government and stakeholders to have confidence in the important work of social care across the country.

"It is delighted therefore to work with Care Forum Wales to host and thereby help facilitate the creation and development of the new Academy of Care Practitioners as a significant step forward for the profession."

Speaking at the event, Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said: “I recognise and value the support the Academy of Care Practitioners is already providing to the social care workforce and I hope the announcement by Care Forum Wales today will have the desired effect of bringing the Academy to the attention of a wider audience of care workers in Wales.

“This development will add to the reputation of social care work as an attractive and challenging occupation making a real difference to the every day lives of people in Wales.”

Networking Events

The Academy will organise and hold local, regional and national events such as seminars, workshops and a conference specifically for care practitioners. During the year there will be opportunities for you as a member to meet your colleagues and discuss and debate issues that are relevant to you. There will be an opportunity to meet with policy makers and developers, and by creating this direct link with the workforce and government you will be involved in making a valuable contribution to the advancement of social care.

Network Topics

Members will be consulted on their choice of topic to be discussed at the events. Topics identified may include nutrition management, dignity and safety, standards and registration, workforce development or accountability issues, your suggestions however are welcome. Already a number of care practitioners have suggested how important their role could be in relation to the ‘sustainability agenda’. The issue of climate change and what we all can do to help is important to everyone and care practitioners can play their part. Every effort will be made to invite relevant external speakers to the events, and there will also be opportunity for discussion with fellow Academy members.

Consultation Opportunities

Members will be supported to engage with public bodies that develop policies and procedures that affect their work. The memberships’ views and opinions will be sought on reports and policy statements published by the Welsh Government. The ACP will ensure that your views and voices are heard by the Assembly.

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July 2012