Following on from our opening blog post explaining just who and what the Scottish Social Services Council is, we’ll now look further into the changes the introduction of the SSSC has made since its formation.
We’ll briefly touch on the role of the SSSC and its ultimate goals, before moving on to judge whether or not the changes made to social services in Scotland has been beneficial. In particular, we’ll look at the changes made in the registration of workers.
Is it a welcome change? Or has too much red-tape got in the way of letting people work and provide an efficient service?
Before we push forward and explore the after effect of the SSSC and registration, it’s best to look at how the landscape of social services in Scotland looked before the introduction of the council.
Prior to the SSSC, workers in the social services sector didn’t have to register and there was no responsible body for the industry as a whole. In fact, up until 2003 there wasn’t a regulatory body for the social service workforce and no backbone with which people could use to strengthen or support their on-going careers.
The formation of the Scottish Social Services Council followed campaigning - by many within the social services sector - for a body that would raise industry standards, increase confidence of their services and put them on an equal level with other regulated professionals. The latter point, in particular, was historically severely lacking.
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 objectives are:
Registering an entire workforce – especially one the size of social services in Scotland – is no easy feat. In fact, it was probably the case that its introduction disrupted a number of people and organisations across the country, so was it worth the upheaval it caused?
One of the key changes brought in by the SSSC – if not the biggest one – was that of registration. The majority of workers within the social services sector need to register as a member of the SSSC within six months of starting a position within the industry.
During an SSSC report in 2014 that looked into the impact of registration, of the 1200 people polled, they discovered that people believed that the most important qualities of delivering social services were:
Registering as a social service worker was billed as a key part of allowing the people of Scotland to put more trust in the social services sector, allowing workers to feel more confident about their job and the faith that people had in them. Providing increased protection and trust in those who most require social service’s help. Not only that, but it would allow employers to help grow and develop staff, turning the social services sector into developing a more professional proposition for those seeking a career path.
The 2014 report that we mentioned earlier, specifically looked into the impact of registration, one of the direct consequences and aims of the SSSC when it was established in 2001. The report was an important step in determining how far the SSSC had come and exactly what impact it had already had.
The report showed that of those polled, 70% believed that registration was necessary and that just under half felt that registration was a direct result of standards being raised within social services since the SSSC’s introduction; two-thirds believed that overall protection of those who use social services had increased during the same period.
But it appears it’s not only those who use social services that expressed satisfaction in the changes since registration, with employees also seeing the benefits. Two-thirds of those polled noted that workers were moderately to extremely confident at being fit and suitable to perform their jobs. Increased identity and criminal record checks were also noted to have reduced the risk of unsuitable candidates working within the industry.
Overall, the focus group suggested that the changes in registration had brought with it ‘safety’, ‘accountability’ and ‘reassurance’ for the public that uses it, along with an increasing confidence level of the work carried out by the SSSC.
Over half of the respondents believed that social service workers were undertaking more training now than they had been before the SSSC was introduced, and that two thirds were moderately to extremely confident that social service workers were maintaining and improving skills related to their job.
While we must take into consideration that the report pulled from a relative small pool of people (1200), when you consider that around 200,000 people work within social services in Scotland, it gives us an indication that the arrival of the SSSC and subsequent registration procedures, have improved the standard, protection and professionalism of the industry. Three factors that were key to the SSSC in moving the industry forward and the very reasons why it was introduced in the first place.
When the SSSC was originally brought in, it’s clear that there was a period of adjustment and adaptation for many different types of groups, most of which would’ve found their day-to-day duties disrupted with its creation and registration implementation.
But once a period of instability had cleared, the benefits of registration appear to have far-outweighed the initial negativity and doubts that many had had when the SSSC brought the process in. The public have viewed the changes as bringing reassurance and safety, as well as finding increasing confidence in the work that the SSSC is carrying out.
After over a decade since its introduction, it appears the SSSC’s registration is having a positive impact on the social services industry.
We’ll be looking into more changes that the SSSC have made in order to improve social services in Scotland both now and in the future, so make sure to keep an eye out for our continuing coverage on these issues.
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: #SocialCareScotland
Impact of Registration – CCP Scotland http://www.ccpscotland.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Impact-of-registration.pdf