Standard of training in care homes condemned

17th November 2000 at 00:00
STANDARDS of training in care homes for older people can be "appalling", say government inspectors.

And the severe shortage of qualified staff is "a huge obstacle to improving the quality of training, particularly in the field of residential care", the Training Standards Council (TSC) warned this week. "Both trainees and clients are at risk when they are in the hands of unqualified staff."

The council's report, Training in Care, was commissioned by the Department for Education and Employment after the TSC highlighted the poor standard of training in the sector last year. Lifelong learning minister, Malcolm Wicks, has now proposed re-inspections for trainers with unsatisfactory grades, a five-year action plan to increase the rigour of assessment, and a new national regulatory body.

An industry characterised by long, unsocial hours, stressful conditions and low pay asks much of its workers but is failing to train them adequately. "In social care, 80 per cent of the entire workorce is unqualified; in domiciliary care, the figure rises to 93 per cent," says the council.

And "where there is poor care there is poor training for carers", says the council's chief inspector David Sherlock. "Over half-a-million people live in more than 17,000 care and nursing homes. Better training for the people who look after them is a national priority."

Many trainees have difficulty in coping with the training that is provided. They often have weak basic skills and struggle to cope with the work, which begins at National Vocational Qualifications level 2. Although they often enjoy learning while at work, they can be discouraged by the theoretical, classroom-based aspects of their training.

But there are also areas of good practice and the inspectors found wide variations across the sector. Local authority training is good, with more than 80 per cent of its training providers gaining satisfactory or good grades. Childcare training reaches similar standards.

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