CARE homes celebrated Professional Care Workers’ Day yesterday - soon after Age UK warned the social care system risks “total collapse”.

Organised by the National Association of Care and Support Workers (NACAS), the event was part of their campaign for the sector to ensure care workers receive thorough training and better salaries.

Although the Skills for Care Certificate was introduced in 2015, it was never accredited. For Karolina Gerlich, founding director of NACAS, it is no longer fit for purpose.

She said: “The Care Certificate can either be two days or three months long – there is no quality assurance.

“Considering how complicated the skills are in social care, the industry needs an accredited qualification, and this should be standardised across the sector.”

Karolina is hopeful, but knows it could be a long time before care workers get recognition:

She added: “The whole sector is frustrated with the government.

"If you continue underfunding social care, that is detrimental to the health service, and quality of care is not going to improve.”

Without good staff training, those in care are at risk: mistakes are more likely, and undervalued care workers frequently move on.

According to the 2018 Sector Pulse Check report by HFT – a charity which supports people with learning difficulties – 80 per cent of providers cited low wages as the biggest barrier to retaining staff.

Yazmina Suleyman worked for two care agencies in Brighton. Her training at both agencies lasted just two days, and said it was not sufficient to support the range of individuals she was caring for:

She said: “I’d never received training on how to support a paranoid schizophrenic. I was working at a day centre for addicts and a lady said to me ‘Oh, you’ll be fine with him - just remember not to turn your back on him.’

“I had to go into this man’s room with no training on how to dispose of needles. I met people who said ‘I got pricked in Colin’s room.’”

Cleo Dibb, from Hove, has worked in supported living services for the Grace Eyre Foundation for 13 years. All the induction training at her first job was online.

She said: “It’s scary how you can do an online module, and then you can give someone medication.”

Now working at The Grace Eyre Foundation, Cleo believes in-service training should be a core part of care provision.

She says the lack of training is often down to limited funding: “At Grace Eyre, 90 per cent of our funding still comes from the local authority. When training is not enforced or regulated, that’s what gets cut.”