Hafal has contributed evidence to an inquiry by the Assembly’s Health, Wellbeing and Local Government Committee into social care workforce planning.
In its evidence, which was presented to committee members by Hafal’s Deputy Chief Executive Alun Thomas, the charity said that qualification requirements for mental health social care workers set by bodies like the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CCSIW) did not take into account the particular needs and aptitudes found specifically in mental healthcare roles.
“There is a wealth of well-qualified and experienced social care workers in Wales who are restricted from certain roles because the Care Council for Wales (CCW) does not yet recognise their qualification as equivalent to those it has identified as appropriate,” said Mr Thomas.
“For example, the CSSIW requires that 50% of staff working in a domiciliary care agency will hold an NVQ 2 in care by 2009 based on CCW agreed standards.
“Unfortunately, the NVQ in care is not the best course for people working in mental health; the NVQ in care is generic and does not include the principle of Recovery.
“There are a range of more appropriate NVQ and VRQ (Vocationally Recognised Qualification) courses but because they are not recognised by CCW as equivalent to the level 2 – even thought they may be at levels 3 or 4- staff must be trained in a less appropriate way.”
Hafal’s evidence also drew attention to the current review into the future of nurse training by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
Mr Thomas said: “Many hold the view that a system where all nurses are generalist but with further specialist qualifications for advanced mental health practitioners would best address the holistic needs of the patient or social services consumer.
“Hafal reported to the Secure Services Review on the physical health needs of people with a serious mental illness and it is clear that mental health nurses must have a greater understanding and ability to address these issues.
“Hafal is not particularly comfortable with a mental health silo approach where the nursing staff have very limited general training and would feel it more appropriate that all generalist nurses have a thorough understanding of an holistic approach to physical and mental health with support from specialist roles. This might also go some way to reducing the perceived stigma of working in mental health.”
Hafal Deputy Chief Executive Alun Thomas and service user Helen Oseman giving evidence to the Assembly’s inquiry on social care workforce planning during a Health, Wellbeing and Local Government Committee meeting, broadcast live by S4C.