Minimum standards for healthcare support workers

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Following extensive consultation, these standards (which set out requirements for training, conduct and competencies expected of support workers) have been launched and are ready ro be used.

The code and standards will be used to shape the establishment of a voluntary register for healthcare support workers in England. Employer views were an essential part of this process and were collected throughout last year.

Access the National Minimum Training Standards and Code of Conduct on the Skills for Health website.

A summary of the guidelines is provided below:

1. Code of conduct for support workers

2. Common induction standards for support workers

3. Core and common competences for support workers


Code of conduct for support workers

The code of conduct sets out the level of conduct expected of all healthcare support workers, outlining that they must:

  1. protect the rights and promote the interests of individuals, key people and others
  2. strive to establish and maintain the trust and confidence of individuals, key people and others.
  3. promote the independence of individuals while protecting them as far as possible from danger or harm 
  4. respect the rights of individuals while seeking to ensure that their behaviour does not harm themselves, key people or others 
  5. uphold public trust and confidence in health and social care services by protecting individuals from abuse, neglect and harm 
  6. be accountable for the quality of your work and take responsibility for maintaining and improving your knowledge and skills 
  7. take responsibility for how you communicate with and on behalf of individuals. 

Common induction standards for support workers

The common induction standards represent the underpinning knowledge that all healthcare support workers should possess and understand following their induction.

The common induction standards include:

1. Role of the health and social care worker:

  • responsibilities and limits of your relationship with an individual
  • working in ways that are agreed with your employer
  • the importance of working in partnership with others
  • handling information in agreed ways. 

2. Personal development:

  • understanding your own work role within the sector
  • reflective practice
  • evaluating own performance
  • producing a personal development plan
  • using learning opportunities and reflective practice to contribute to personal development.

3. Communicating effectively:

  • importance of effective communication in the work setting
  • meeting the communication and language needs, wishes and preferences of individuals
  • overcoming difficulties in promoting communication
  • understand principles and practices relating to confidentiality.

4. Equality and inclusion:

  • the value and the importance of equality and inclusion
  • providing inclusive support
  • access information, advice and support about equality and inclusion.

5. Principles for implementing duty of care:

  • understand how duty of care contributes to safe practice
  • know how to address dilemmas that may arise between an individual’s rights and the duty of care
  • know how to recognise and handle comments and complaints
  • know how to recognise and handle adverse events, incidents, errors and near misses
  • know how to deal effectively with confrontation and diffuse difficult situations.

6. Principles of safe-guarding in health and social care:

  • recognising signs of harm or abuse
  • ways to reduce likelihood of abuse
  • responding to suspected or disclosed abuse
  • national and local context of protection from harm and abuse.

7. Person-centred support:

  • promoting person-centred values in everyday work
  • working in a person-centred way
  • recognising possible signs of mental health issues relevant to the client group you are working with
  • supporting active participation
  • supporting an individual’s rights to make choices
  • promoting spiritual and emotional well-being.

8. Health and safety in a health and adult social care setting:

  • roles and responsibilities relating to health and safety in the work setting/ situation
  • health and safety risk assessments
  • moving and positioning
  • responding to accidents and sudden illness
  • agreed ways of working regarding medication and health care tasks
  • handling hazardous substances
  • preventing the spread of infection
  • promoting fire safety in the work setting
  • security measures in the work setting
  • managing stress
  • food safety, nutrition and hydration.

Core and common competences for support workers

The competences that all health support workers should be confident in following their induction are:

  1. Personal development
  2. Communication
  3. Equality and inclusion 
  4. Duty of care 
  5. Safeguarding 
  6. Person-centred support 
  7. Health and safety 
  8. Basic life support 
  9. Moving and positioning individuals 
  10. Handling information
  11. Infection prevention and control 
  12. Undertaking routine clinical measurements


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