Having campaigned for more than 20 years for independent regulation, it goes without saying that the British Association of Social Workers welcomes the simultaneous publication of draft codes of conduct/practice for all social care workers and their employers by the General Social Care Council and its counterparts across the UK.
These basic statements of values and principles are a central tenet of the new independent regulatory framework for the social care workforce, acknowledging their important responsibility to support and protect vulnerable individuals from every walk of life.
The confidence of both social workers and those who depend on their services is severely undermined by the media frenzy which accompanies high-profile public inquiries into the small number of cases where things go tragically wrong.
To perform at their best they need to feel, and be, valued. But often things are quite the reverse and their successes go unseen. This has contributed to the present recruitment crisis which the government is only now beginning to address.
The need for more consistent services across the country and for consumers to be assured that workers they are in contact with have the appropriate knowledge and skills is self-evident. The association requires its members to uphold our code of ethics, but membership remains a matter of choice.
It is simply not good enough for the safety and well-being of some of the most vulnerable members of society to be left in the hands of the many thousands of individual employers from all sectors.
The new codes represent a significant step forward, but this is a far from simple matter.
Resources must be secured to train the 90% of the million plus social care workforce who are not qualified - not to mention covering the essential duties they undertake while such training takes place. The new arrangements must be made to work, but there are significant challenges to be overcome.
The association feels the codes do not go far enough and that workers should have a right to refuse to do work they do not feel competent to carry out, not simply a duty to report this to their employers.
We also believe that explicit sanctions should apply to employers who do not fulfil their side of the bargain.
Director, British Association of Social Workers