27 January 2016

Why are our Standards of conduct, performance and ethics important for service users?

Steve McNeice was a service user member of the Professional Liaison Group involved in revising our Standards of conduct, performance and ethics. Here, he reveals what these standards mean for service users and why they’re so important.

In March 2003 I contracted Group ‘A’ Streptococcus, which, after mutating a number of times, ultimately became Meningococcal Septicaemia. This resulted in the amputation of both my legs above the knee, the loss of the muscles in my right forearm, the loss of all my fingertips and the amputation of my little finger on my right hand. I also have significant lung capacity reduction, deafness in one ear and reduced hearing loss in the other.

As a consequence of managing these lifelong and complex conditions, I continue to experience and benefit from the services of a wide variety of allied health professionals (AHPs), including paramedics, prosthetists, orthotists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and radiographers.

Reviewing the Standards

This previous and on-going patient experience as a long-term service user led to my involvement in reviewing and revising the HCPC’s Standards of conduct, performance and ethics (SCPE) as part of a Professional Liaison Group (PLG). These are Standards for the 16 professions regulated by the HCPC, setting out in broad and easily understandable terms the behaviours expected of its registered health and care professionals. My role within the PLG entailed making suggestions about how these standards could be made more accessible, practical and useable, particularly for service users.

Health and care professionals must adhere to SCPE as a condition of their continuing HCPC registration. The Standards are important because they outline a minimum quality of service that the public can, or should, expect from their health and care professional. This means that they are equipped with a better understanding upon which to base their expectations for any intervention or service being provided.

Reflecting service user expectations

In terms of my own expectations, I believe that AHPs should work ‘with’ service users. Communication should be appropriate in language and manner, allowing me to make an informed choice (albeit in conjunction with the professional). I would also expect them to work within their own knowledge and skill set, recognising any limitations whilst acting at all times in my best interest.

The revised Standards of conduct, performance and ethics absolutely reflect my expectations. Like most service users with lifelong and often complex conditions, I have changing needs. I therefore feel privileged that I’m able to benefit from the skills, expertise and knowledge afforded to me by my caring AHPs.

Building the relationship between professionals and service users

Importantly, the revised SCPE include a new standard about registrants being open and honest when things go wrong. I would add that this should be a two-way process: if I do something wrong, I would be the first to apologise. This trust and mutual respect is crucial for service users who have to build long-term relationships in order to work constructively with AHPs. Indeed, it can directly impact meeting any goals or on-going needs.

Registrants are also required to report and escalate any concerns they might have about the safety and wellbeing of service users. Clearly, this is essential. News reports often highlight the lessons to be learnt from whatever incident may have occurred, but I believe that prevention is generally better than cure.

Standards of conduct, performance and ethics are, of course, directly relevant to health and care professionals regulated by the HCPC, as well as those aspiring to join the Register. However, they are also of particular interest and importance to service users, carers and the general public. I know and understand, from my own personal experience, the benefit to patients of a skilled and professional workforce. So it is particularly pleasing to have been part of the revision of a set of standards that seeks to support, maintain and encourage that workforce.

More information about the HCPC’s Standards of conduct, performance and ethics is available here.

26 January 2016

SCPE and me

HCPC registrant, Council Chair and educator, Elaine Buckley, explains the process involved in revising our Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics, and highlights their importance to health and care professionals.

On 26 January 2016, we published our revised Standards of conduct, performance and ethics. These Standards have always served to set out what is expected of me as an HCPC registrant. They have provided guidance as I’ve progressed in my career as a physiotherapist, and have assisted me as an educator in articulating these expectations to students as they embark on qualifying in their chosen profession. The Standards are equally as important to the HCPC as a regulator. They help us to determine suitability of character for individuals who apply to our Register, and in cases where concerns are raised about a registrant’s fitness to practise.

As Chair of the working group - called a Professional Liaison Group (PLG) - which assisted with the revision of the Standards, I have been impressed with the thoroughness of the process: particularly in terms of the gathering of evidence to inform any changes and the level of stakeholder engagement. The PLG comprised a variety of stakeholders, including service users and carers, professional bodies, employers and registrants.

The journey to revise the Standards began with a number of commissioned projects capturing the views of a wide range of stakeholders. This included workshops with different groups of service users and carers; focus groups and interviews with registrants and employers; and discussion with Fitness to Practise (FtP) Panel Chairs.

The PLG then reviewed the evidence gathered, debated issues and suggested changes to the previous Standards. This resulted in the development of a robust set of draft Standards, which went out for public consultation UK-wide. The consultation elicited 217 responses from stakeholders including individual health and care professionals, professional bodies, employers and educators. In addition, we benefited enormously from the views of service users and carers at a series of UK-wide events we held during the consultation period. Further changes were made to the Standards in light of the consultation.

The key changes from the previous version of the Standards include a standard about reporting and escalating concerns about the safety and wellbeing of service users. There is also a standard about being open and honest when things go wrong: individuals are expected to tell service users and carers when they become aware that something has gone wrong with the care, treatment or other services that they provide and to take action to put matters right wherever possible. They are also required to consider making an apology and to make sure that the service user receives an explanation of what happened.

It was essential that we refreshed the Standards in such a way that ensured they remained relevant for all 16 professional groups that we regulate. Our registrants work across a range of settings: in the private sector, NHS and in local authorities, to name but a few. This meant that the PLG’s discussions focused as much on format, as on content.

As such, we have made changes to the structure of the Standards to improve their accessibility. We hope that the new concise layout will ensure ease of understanding, not only for our registrants, but also for service users and carers. Despite the new ‘look’ of the Standards, registrants should be assured that the content remains consistent.   

I hope that you will find our revised Standards clear and easy to engage with, and that they will continue to guide your practise as you progress through your career.

The Standards of conduct, performance and ethics are now available to download here. The HCPC will be producing a range of communications to highlight what the revised Standards mean for registrants, including regular articles within our In Focus newsletter, blog pieces, live forums and social media messaging.

For more information visit www.hcpc-uk.org/aboutregistration/standards/standardsofconductperformanceandethics

22 January 2016

Reviewing the Standards of proficiency for social workers in England

Chair of our Education and Training Committee, Joy Tweed, highlights discussions from our recent event which contributed to our current review of the Standards of proficiency for social workers in England. 

On Thursday 21 January I had the privilege to chair an event at the HCPC which brought together a broad range of stakeholders from within the social work community, including educators, managers, learning and development professionals and newly qualified social workers.

The reason for our meeting? To discuss the Standards of proficiency for social workers in England. These standards, which set out the threshold entry level to the Register, are essential to regulation. They articulate our expectations of the skills and knowledge required for safe and effective practise and we use them across our regulatory processes specifically in education, fitness to practise and registration.

The review is part of our ongoing commitment to ensuring our Standards are relevant, up-to-date and fit for purpose. The review is particularly timely now that we have completed our three year programme of approval of social work education programmes. We can also take into account changes in the sectors since the standards were last published – for example, the Knowledge and Skills statements published by the Chief Social Workers for Children and Adults.

Our event was part of a broader programme of work to engage with the sector. We plan to consult on proposed revised standards and publish them later this year. 

As part of the review, we have already benefited from the feedback of educators, HCPC visitors and registration assessors, practice placement educators, service users and carers and others including principal social workers and managers.

The feedback from this work and our event is remarkably similar. Some stakeholders want us to better articulate the relationship between our standards and other frameworks like the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) and the Knowledge and Skills Statements. Others were keen for us to ensure that the standards were more explicit about social work values. At the event, we discussed the need to include specific references on leadership and strengthen our wording on supervision and reflection as well as emotional resilience. We told participants about the findings of a piece of work that Shaping our lives did on our behalf, speaking with service users and carers about their experiences and perspectives on the Standards. Service users and carers emphasised the importance of good communication to developing an effective relationship between social worker and client, one that ensured partnership in decision making.

Overall, however, the overwhelming majority of individuals we have spoken to so far agreed that the existing Standards of proficiency are clear and relevant to social workers in England and that few changes are required. This is very encouraging as we see these Standards playing a key role in generating the next generation of professionals.

What struck me about our event was the breadth of involvement across the sector and the engagement by very busy people who were all committed, passionate and enthusiastic about helping us to make these very important Standards relate to the work of social workers every day.

This is just the start of the process. There will be an opportunity for the wider social work community to provide their feedback when we consult on the revised draft standards later in the year.

In the meantime, I would like to thank everyone involved so far for taking time out of their busy lives and so readily sharing their skills and knowledge.

Joy Tweed
Chair, Education and Training Committee