The Scottish Social Services Council: An Overview

Since its introduction the SSSC has brought profound change to the social care sector in Scotland and over the next few months we are going to be digging deeper into the impact of the SSSC with analysis, dialogue and articles across the social care sector.

However, before we launch into the detail let’s remind ourselves of the present picture.

What is the SSSC?

The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) was set up under the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001, with its primary goal to be the body responsible for raising the standards of Scotland’s Social Service workforce. This includes the registering of employees, regulation of training and ensuring a properly qualified, stronger, more professional, social care team across the country.

With one in 13 people employed in Scotland working in Social Services, the Council plays a vital role in the registering and support of a vast majority of employees in Scotland.  By 2003 the first national register for social workers had been set up with a vast array of roles requiring compulsory registration including social workers, care at home service workers and housing support service employees.

One caveat to the registration process is that nurses working in care homes may already be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, while others working in nurseries will be registered with the General Teaching Council for Scotland; neither of which are required to register for the SSSC.

Those who don’t fall into any of the previous two categories are required by law to register for the SSSC in the majority of circumstances.  Registration must be initiated within six months of starting a new job in Social Services.We are going to spend some time exploring whether this registration process is working and the challenges that it has presented to care providers and employers.

The SSSC Objectives

The SSSC has ambitious yet clear objectives and we will be exploring these more in future pieces, however before we do that let’s just remind ourselves what those objective are:

  • To create a safe, skilled, confident and flexible social service workforce with the appropriate values, knowledge, skills and qualifications for current and future sector needs
  • To be an influential in policy making and the social services sector
  • To make sure the social service workforce is valued
  • That qualifications for social service workers are fit for purpose
  • That the right people are on the SSSC Register
  • Ensure the SSSC’s resources, products and activities support the development of the workforce and increase its capacity and capability
  • To be recognised as a well-run, well governed and effective organisation.

The Benefits of the SSSC

By having a registered workforce, it allows the SSSC to work towards raising standards in social care, while also bringing it into line with other similar professions.  One aspect of this is the way it allows for all employees of a similar role to display a high level of academic and practical knowledge, as well as all being at the same level of competence, adhering to the SSSC’s codes of practice.

For employers, the registration process allows for the promotion of workers and an opportunity to become qualified in a variety of different areas and be recognised for their abilities on a national level by registering with the SSSC.

While employees are personally responsible for registering and meeting the SSSC’s post registration training and learning requirements, employers are expected to help workers continue their development. Taking in processes such as shadowing, training course sign-ups and negotiating time to allow employees to read or research the latest policy and good practice methods within the field their working in.

Over the coming months we are going to explore if the SSSC has helped employers achieve this or not.

SSSC’s Codes of Practice

The SSSC publishes the national codes of practice for both employees and employers, and to ensure that standards are not only maintained but improved year-on-year.  Registering and promoting on-going learning and development is part of that process, but where people fall below the standards set, they are also able to conduct an investigation and take action.

The Codes of Practice set out clear standards and are designed in such a way that people can know what to expect from a registered member of the SSSC workforce.  Within the Codes of Practice, employers are responsible for ensuring that their employees meet these standards by increasing public trust within the workforce by delivering high quality Social Services. First published in 2003, the Codes of Practice is currently being reviewed, with any changes likely to be implemented in late 2016 for both Social Service Workers and employers.

Confidence is a key factor when it comes to Social Care, and it’s vital that the public has a strong trust in both employers within the sector and its Social Service Workers. The introduction of the SSSC in 2001 was designed as a way to create a more professional and forward thinking Social Care sector, able to grow and develop people, raise standards and increase the protection of people who rely on its support.

Again, we are going to look at if this really is the case.

Join the conversation

If you work in social care, and you’d like to contribute to our articles, please contact Tessa Huntley at ASA.

Twitter handle for the debate: #SocialCare


SSSC: What do we do for you

SSSC: Codes of practice

SSSC’s impact of registration report