New voice for social care heroes

A new organisation has been launched to look after the army of unsung heroes who provide social care for vulnerable adults and children across Wales.

The Academy of Care Practitioners is the first body of its kind to be established in the UK and is expected to inspire a network of similar organisations in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Eire.

The launch took place at the Senedd in Cardiff today at a ceremony hosted by the Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services, Gwenda Thomas AM.

The Academy is the brainchild of Care Forum Wales which represents more than 500 independent social care providers.

It has been set up as a company limited by guarantee with the aim of it becoming a charity and Glyndwr University, in Wrexham, will be its main base for the foreseeable future.

The aim is to promote, support and develop Care Practitioners and raise standards in social care provision – and raise the status of the “undervalued profession”.

The launch came after a successful 12-month pilot programme.

Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, is passionate about the need for the new Academy.

He said: “People rightly talk about safeguarding service users, vulnerable people who  receive a care service, but in my opinion not enough is considered in terms of safeguarding the social care workers.

“The whole social care system in Wales, and indeed the whole NHS system,  is predicated on tens of thousands of people getting up early every morning and doing a really difficult job.

“It’s high time that group of people had the opportunity to join a professional body for vocationally qualified social care workers that is dedicated 100 per cent to them.

“By showing respect for people who work in social care you’re also showing respect for the people they care for.

“I think those members of the public who either receive or are close to family members of those who receive social care in the main they know that they’re getting a good service.

“But I think it’s fair to say that social care is seriously undervalued as a profession and this is a means of raising their status.

“Why should social care workers in Wales be just about the only group of workers without a professional body to support them, to protect them, and to assist with their personal and professional development?

“Until now social care policy had developed in Wales without their input because there was no organisation to represent them but they really do deserve a place at the top table.

“For the first time, this army of unsung heroes and heroines across Wales will have their own voice. This is history in the making.

“What we’re doing in Care Forum Wales, with our partners, is making it happen and the aim is for the Academy to be independent, democratic, and owned by social care workers.

“The creation of the Academy dovetails with Welsh Government policy and is in accordance with the codes of practice of the Care Council for Wales.

The development of the Academy is being watched closely by members of the Five Nations group,  made up of organisations representing the care sectors in the four home nations and Eire, who are keen to follow suit.

Deputy Minister for Social Services, Gwenda Thomas said: “The Academy addresses the need for a professional body for social care workers, giving them more direction in their professional development and a louder voice when it comes to developing social care policy.”

Photograph: Stakeholders at the launch of the Academy of Care Practitioners at the Senedd in Cardiff