We created this toolkit to support employers, careers advisers, teachers, parents and employment support workers.
There are resources to use with individuals and resources to help you build your own knowledge about career opportunities in social services.
If you would like support to promote these opportunities please contact [email protected]
Awareness of values, and the ability to demonstrate these at interview, is important to social service employers. Here are three useful resources.
The Question of Care interactive video challenge shows the kind of decisions social service workers make. At the end of the challenge, participants receive a detailed personal values profile. Some employers use this challenge during interviews.
This good practice recruitment guidance helps employers to meet legislative and regulatory requirements in their recruitment activity. As with the resources above, this guide emphasises a values-based approach.
The SSSC and Department of Work and Pensions share information and ideas for employment support workers.
Clicking on the transcript button will open a panel in this page.
Guidance about PVG scheme membership and suggestions for employers and individuals about exploring past convictions.
Clicking on the transcript button will open a panel in this page.
Published on Iriss.fm July 15, 2021 | 23 minutes | 4699 words
INT: The social services sector is growing and this means there are opportunities for people looking for a new career. Whether that’s changing jobs, or people who are just starting out. So what are these opportunities and what role can employment support workers have in helping this important workforce to grow sustainably?
We speak to Kerry Cannon, learning and development adviser at the Scottish Social Services Council and Susie Ferguson, partnership manager at the Department of Work and Pensions, about current recruitment opportunities and the important role employability organisations can have in supporting these.
Michelle: Today I am speaking with Kerry Cannon, learning and development adviser at the Scottish Social Services Council and Susie Ferguson, partnership manager at the Department of Work and Pensions and the subject of today’s episode is careers in social services, opportunities and employability.
So a warm welcome to you both.
Kerry: Hi there
Susie: Hi there, thanks for having us
Michelle: So, Kerry, can I just turn to yourself first. Could you tell me, how do you define social services? And if somebody was going to take up a career in this field what might that look like?
Kerry: Ok, so social services – well obviously at the Scottish Social Services Council that’s a term we’re quite familiar with – but it is a term for quite a wide set of professions. And you might not always use this language yourself, there’s not always a necessity to. You might instead refer to the type of support so that’s maybe early learning and childcare, residential childcare, social work services, adult social care or you might even say health and social care (which is more common now) but there are more. This diversity is a strength and an attractive quality for career seekers I think but it can mean that it can be harder to tell a clear story nationally about what the career opportunities are. So along with many partners in the sector, including DWP, we do social media activity using the hashtag Life Changing Work which I really like because it recognises that diversity and focuses on what all roles have in common, however you might name them. So it’s a wide range of different types of support, no day is going to be the same.
Michelle: Ok and the life changing work hashtag you use that sort of encompasses all of the social services careers that you’ve just spoken about there?
Kerry: It does and what we try and do, and we use that tag on our careers website as well which is www.careersincare.scot and we try and use that tag to always have an up-to-date live stream of different stories about the sector. Not just coming from SSSC but from different organisations who might be promoting their vacancies. The DWP also do social media campaigns promoting the sector so it’s a really nice tag I think to tie it together. And it talks about the change you might make in someone else’s life, and the quality about these careers that they can change your life as well.
The status of social services as a regulated and qualified profession should bring opportunities including the opportunity to gain qualifications in work and raise the profile. And when we think about social services as a whole profession it can be really flexible. So some examples include, if you go into a childcare setting and you learn how to support young people and you gain a qualification like an SVQ you can take this with you when you move into a different service type. And we know that some people will do this, and we know that some people might have a couple of different roles so they might be on our register in a couple of different categories. So there is inherent flexibility in this type of career and the qualification pathways contain common units to enable that progression for example from a nursery setting to an adult care home setting. So there’s that recognition of prior learning. So that’s one of the ways I think it can be useful to think of social services as a whole, because of the different pathways that might be available to you.
Another example is social work. So with a social work qualification if you did decide to go to university now, or in fact go into the workforce first and get that experience and then maybe study social work part time. With a social work qualification you can practise across different register parts so you might work with a local authority in a dedicated social work service but you can also bring that skills and knowledge to a care service. So that’s another example of that flexibility. And again, people don’t necessarily know this. It can be quite technical if you don’t know much about pathways and qualifications. But our careers website which is www.careersincare.scot explains that and there are actually interactive qualification pathways so you can explore that, and you can explore that with people you’re working with to maybe challenge some of the preconceptions they might have about whether this is a career with positive destinations or opportunities to progress.
Michelle: Can you tell me a bit about the size of the workforce and the number of employers?
Kerry: Yes I can do. So it’s a really large workforce and I think sometimes it’s useful to actually say ‘social services’ because it means you can talk about the workforce size as a whole and use some high level messages. So as a whole it’s 1 in 13 people who are employed in Scotland and that’s a nice way of putting it when I’m talking to young people for example who might know social service workers but not really term them as such. It is growing year on year, and it’s currently sitting at around 206,000 people. Actually that workforce has been growing – for the nine years that I’ve worked at SSSC it’s grown every year.
The vast majority of those people will be eligible for SSSC registration and those eligible groups were set out in legislation very early on and indeed we’ve not registered all those eligible groups. In terms of employers there’s a large number, so again talking about the sector as a whole rather than any particular type of setting I believe it’s around 2,500 employers so it’s really really diverse and in that way it’s quite different to a connected type of support which is the NHS and the health service. So there’s a range of different people that you might work with and quite a lot of flexibility.
Michelle: So why promote careers in social services right now?
Well it’s really important to promote careers because it is obviously really important work, I think that’s undeniable. I’d also mentioned that it’s a large workforce and it’s also growing, so currently at 206,000 but also growing every year. We often hear about vacancies in the sector and that can sometimes be paired with language of crisis and can mean as a result that careers are framed in a negative light. I think it’s useful to add some balance to that because vacancies also indicate growth, so it’s a growing sector. Services are growing and this means there are opportunities for people not just looking for work, but for a meaningful career which will last.
We’re recording this in 2021 which means we’re very concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on some industries and we’re concerned about the impact on individuals, including groups who are more likely to be affected by the economic downturn. That includes young people and that includes women who are more likely to be affected. So here’s an industry which is growing and which is offering people meaningful work with meaningful development opportunities.
Michelle: Ok so we’ve talked a little bit about vacancies. Tell me Kerry, what kind of opportunities exist in social services currently?
Kerry: So the vacancies, I’d mentioned this can mean sometimes things are framed negatively. And while it can be a positive thing (because the workforce is growing) it is true that some employers have vacancies which they find hard to fill. The SSSC and Care Inspectorate have annual vacancy reports which can give you some insight into this. So commonly in adult care services it’s not really about the lack of qualified applicants, and I think that’s often a preconception that you need qualifications (but you don’t). Most people do gain qualifications in work and that’s an important part of the story.
More often when we talk about vacancies which employers are finding harder to fill – and it might be in a particular local authority or a particular area – it can be a lack of applicants altogether, or not enough applicants with the right values so you know being reliable, and dependable, having a compassionate approach. It can also be that the applicants don’t have enough prior knowledge about what the role will involve. And that can be really hugely disruptive within recruitment for employers. So I see this as an area where work coaches and employability key workers can add value in helping to address this, maybe reduce the burden experienced by employers who are doing such important work in communities. Particularly as we’ve all seen more visibly during COVID-19 but in fact obviously that’s been going on for so much longer. And employers could really benefit from support to grow their workforces sustainably. So there’s a key role for employment support services there.
I’d recommend if you’re in an organisation like the DWP or Fair Start Scotland or different employability providers across Scotland maybe have a look at our vacancy reports online and try reaching out to employers to understand their circumstances and why they are finding it difficult, and see what you can do in terms of some partnership work. And it might not always be a full training programme but that’s one approach. It might be other types of support that employers are looking for.
Michelle: Susie, just turning to yourself, as someone working in employability why are you passionate about promoting careers in social services?
Susie: I think, like what Kerry has said, it is a meaningful job and a career. Working within the job centre and employability services it is under-promoted and we don’t encourage people enough to have that conversation. Certainly now with covid and the different types of jobs that have disappeared, like in hospitality, if people have transferable skills or who maybe have never thought about it. I think where my passion comes from is the real life stories and speaking to customers or clients who have moved from one sector – whether that be hospitality or retail – and have moved into care and just the feedback from them about as in I wish I had done it years ago or it’s the most rewarding job. And just a little bit of background about why they find it rewarding – I spoke to one girl just the other day and she said she gets to be a part of that person’s life, and it’s not just the person that she’s caring for it’s the family who are being impacted as well. Just some of the stories that she hears and the wisdom she is picking up from people’s life stories. So I think that for a career in the care sector as far as our work coaches are concerned, it’s about whether they would have that conversation. Perhaps not. Would they say, ‘have you thought about a career in care? No? Well, why not?’ rather than just moving on to the next thing. I think for me in my role it’s about promoting it out there, all the resources that are available online to have a look at. Do ‘A Question of Care’ to see if it’s a career for me, offering work experience placements or work academies to obtain some qualifications, and as you said as well you don’t have to have qualifications to move into the care sector however you can progress and make it into a career.
The girl I was speaking to, she’s used it as a stepping stone from what she did at college which was nothing to do with care work, she’s moved onto home care and into a care home and now she’s in her second year at nursing. So she’s used that as a complete flip from the career that she thought she might want to do, to what she’s doing now. So I think it’s a shame that the people who have the right values and the right attitude are perhaps not considering moving into care. So I think for me, that’s why I’m passionate about promoting it and getting the right people into the right type of work.
Michelle: And why do you think it hasn’t been promoted so much up to maybe recently?
Susie: Well, I said to her ‘is it something that you’d thought about when you were at school?’ And she said, ‘You know what it was kind of like a stigma if you were at school and you were going to be a carer and you were going to be looking after people’s personal care’. So it was something which had crossed her mind but she didn’t go with it because of the stigma.
And I think it’s the perception of the sector as well, as in the first question was: what is social services? I mean it’s a massive, massive area of employment. But the first thing [people think of] is: Am I the right person to look after someone’s personal requirements? And having listened to some feedback and conversations, this is the tiniest part of the job and it’s not considered or thought of. The job is much more rewarding than that. So I think yeah, the perception and the stigma that goes with it.
But now with the care sector being out there. Everyone is talking about the carers and the care homes. And when you get to see or hear the good news stories or the real life testimonials that’s when you start to realise that it is such a big sector. And it’s ongoing all the time. Recently we did an adult social care recruitment campaign. But it’s ongoing, that campaign was a week, but you can’t just stop there you’ve got to keep promoting it because the vacancies need to be filled and sometimes the employers are struggling to fill them. Especially if it’s homecare in rural areas and different things like that. As a department we’re really keen to help and support and promote, as well as offer training and work experience placements. And that’s quite a good thing – the try before you buy thing. The employer gets to try out the individual and the individual gets to see what it’s like in the real setting.
We do try to promote that: that it’s not going to affect people’s benefits if they wanted to try it out. I think that’s a good thing that they can give it a go and see if it’s for them.
Kerry: So it might be useful for employment support professionals to know about the contract types and wages. This can sometimes be something we hear a lot about in the media when they are talking about the sector. It’s important to get as much balance as you can and information from up-to-date sources. There’s good information online on the SSSC’s data website which is data.sssc.uk.com and that’s where you’ll find a range of things including about the workforce and vacancies.
We know the majority of the workforce are on permanent contracts, so over 80%. We know that there are types of social services work which is sessional by design and we also know that there are other types of contract, so there are agencies for example. There is a mixed picture but it is important I think to say that the majority of people are working on permanent, secure contracts and the median hours of work a week is 32 hours if you look across the sector as a whole. And there’s obviously going to be a lot of variation and we know that some people particularly choose this type of work because they can work part time and they can work flexibly.
So my advice is that while we might want to challenge unfair employment practices as a whole – and I do really believe that – we should also question our presumptions maybe about the sector itself as a place to have a stable, secure career. And I would always recommend looking at the posts being advertised online and you can do that as an activity with someone you’re working with to see the different contracts available, the different hours. And you’ll see that in many cases there is security and stability to be had, and that’s a really positive thing about this sector particularly, as we’ve said, as we recover from the pandemic.
The Scottish Living Wage has also been a feature of all adult social care careers for some years now and this is also happening more consistently in early learning and childcare. And that’s a minimum so again it’s a good idea if you’re working with someone to go through the different job sites, take a look at the different types of organisations and what they are offering: the roles and responsibilities, rates of pay, and also the progression opportunities. Many job adverts will state what support employees will get and I think that’s a really good thing to be looking at, to make sure this is a role which is going to be a good fit for you and a good experience. And I definitely think we should be encouraging employers to put that information in their job adverts.
There are some good job websites to look at: My Job Scotland, Good Moves, Find a Job (which is the DWP service) and there’s also a collective of organisations who have created a website called Because Scotland Cares to promote their careers and their approach to recruitment as well. So there’s lots of really good places where you can look if you’re interested in the types of role, the types of contract and the wages.
Michelle: And Susie, what sort of questions are work coaches or employability key workers likely to have about this career?
Susie: I think first of all about the qualifications. And I know it’s quite widely known that you would be working towards your SVQ, but I think maybe how long does it take to do that and what’s the expectation about having that done in a certain amount of time? Is it mandatory, do they have to do that? The question about the PVG and the eligibility is probably one of the most common questions with work coaches and I do believe there is an assumption that if someone does have a criminal background then they may not be eligible so I think it’s a good idea to signpost them to Disclosure Scotland rather than writing that person off on the assumption they won’t get it, it’s good to explore that. So that’s some of the questions work coaches would be asking, another would be around the SSSC and qualifications and whether this is mandatory if they are working towards the SVQ or can they remain in the sector without doing it? There are a few things that work coaches aren’t totally versed on that would be good to have clarified.
I think it’s good we are going awareness raising with work coaches so they can have a better understanding of the sector and that they can pass that on to their customers. One of the things that’s maybe not spoken about so much is about what we can provide as a department, whether it’s the costings for PVG or SSSC and it’s something at the moment that personally the DWP isn’t funding PVG but there are external organisations who will so there should be no cost for the customer to move into employment.
Also our department are quite happy to cover travel costs for instance if they won’t get their first pay for a month and they’ve got to travel to and from their work we can help them with travel costs and if they are going to be doing a work experience placement we can help with travel costs there too or if they have to have shoes, clothes whatever. So what we try to do is remove the barriers, so if the barrier is childcare costs or transport or clothing costs we would like to cover that to give that person a better opportunity to get into the sector rather than being out of pocket.
Where do they go to find out all the right information, and the correct information about the care sector? I think we are quite good at signposting. We have our own adult social care intranet pages within our department which our work coaches can go on. They can find a wealth of information there and a lot is signposting to the external websites, SSSC and different places that they can go to listen to the testimonials and get I suppose a virtual feel of what it’s like to be in the sector rather than a real life feel.
Michelle: Great and that kind of leads me on to the next question around the SSSC and I know social services is a regulated profession and that means most professionals working in the sector from support workers to managers will require to register with the Scottish Social Services Council. Kerry, can you explain a little bit more about this?
Kerry: Yes the SSSC, we’re a regulator for the social services workforce as you say. So we maintain a Register. And to stay on the Register you have to show that you are ‘Fit to Practise’ – that’s a common term that’s used by different regulators across the UK. And it’s about your conduct and your character and showing you are able to carry out the role safely and to a high standard.
The Register helps us show the public that services are provided by a trusted, skilled and confident workforce. It’s a really important change for the sector I suppose in recent decades that professional regulation has come through. It helps us raise the profile of the profession which is obviously so deserved.
So part of registration is, and Susie had mentioned that this is something that work coaches are curious about in terms of whether it’s mandatory. So if you are on the Register (which means you are one of the eligible groups so that could be a care home service, most regulated care services which are regulated by the Care Inspectorate but also social work services) you’ll need to gain a qualification which is suitable for your role. So in the case of social workers that’s a university based career path so either undergraduate or postgraduate degree level, and it’s a protected title. For other roles in social services there are different pathways, so a really good thing about this career. We most commonly see people completing SVQs in work, so Scottish Vocational Qualifications. And people get five years to gain a suitable qualification and that’s equal to their first period of registration so that’s quite a useful thing for work coaches and employability key workers to know. Other routes include college courses, principally HNCs in either social services or childhood practice although there are a number of different access routes, access courses. And I always say make sure you speak to the college about it, don’t assume that there’s not something available and also there’s some shorter courses as well which might suit people in this situation. Not to forget Modern Apprenticeships, they are really valued in the workforce and used a great deal. And they contain the full SVQ as the core qualification and I don’t think that’s very widely known outside certain circles but that’s really important so it’s the full SVQ, it’s a funded route and there is also an opportunity to gain core skills. And also really important is that there is funding available for people of any age so again there’s some misconceptions that we really need to try and iron out and make sure that there’s awareness out there.
And I think Modern Apprenticeships in particular are a really good route for people who are looking for a more supportive employment route. Because straight away after recruitment you are on a formal skills development pathway. And you can be guided by a mentor and an assessor who will work alongside your employer, so it’s got that additional element of support. And again if you’re in an employability programme and you’re working with a work coach or a key worker you’ve got their support as well to maybe iron out the difficulties that are preventing you from securing or sustaining employment longer term. So really you see employment as a partnership between a number of people but with obviously the person at the centre of that.
Michelle: Where can employability professionals look to get more information about careers in social services?
Kerry: Always recommend to use our careers website which is www.careersincare.scot and it’s a one-stop-shop. It’s got lots of information and really accessible information, so not too detailed but just the right amount we hope. And it’s has videos and testimonials and stories from real workers which we know is so important. I always encourage people follow us on social media, and just follow a range of social service organisations actually - including Iriss – to get a really good sense of what it’s like to work in the sector and the colleagues you’ll meet and the partnerships you’ll develop. The #LifeChangingWork hashtag is really useful just to get links to helpful resources or job opportunities so I like looking at that.
I’d also highlight the Careers Ambassadors programme which is led by SSSC and it’s a great network of workers who volunteer to share their career story. And you’ll know if you work in an employment support environment that the voice of experience is just the critical factor in whether someone wants to consider a career and take that step which can be quite daunting. We get really good feedback from people who have heard our ambassadors speak who’ve given their words of wisdom and advice about how they started and what they are doing now. And you can find out more about that on the SSSC’s main website which is www.sssc.uk.com and we have a particular careers and education section which you’ll see from the home page.
Michelle: Ok great, and from your point of view Susie is there any other further information available?
Susie: I think I touched on the intranet pages that our [DWP] colleagues have access to. Because there is so much information out there for us, to help us give the right information to our customers we’d direct them to our internal pages which then give links out to SSSC and Careers in Care so that the customers are getting signposted in the right direction rather than going away and doing a ‘Google’ and coming up with something else. So for us we’ve got it all on our intranet so we know where to go and then we can signpost the customers in the right direction as well. So there is so much information out there but we’ve got a few good sites we can send to like SSSC and Careers in Care etc then we know the customers have the right information and then like Kerry touched on the testimonials and the real life stories which is from the horse’s mouth so-to-speak and it’s good to hear someone’s experience, and a positive one as well.
Michelle: We’ll wrap it up there, thank you both very much for speaking to me on this subject.
Susie: Thank you very much for having us.
Transcript Copyright: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Published on Iriss.fm 22 July 2021 | 14 minutes | 2961 words
Introduction: In this episode we talk to Andrew Morrall, Customer Engagement Manager at Disclosure Scotland, about the organisation’s safeguarding role and the different levels of disclosure used across social services including PVG scheme membership. We discuss why many social services workers will need to join the PVG scheme and Andrew provides advice to individuals about this, including for those concerned about previous convictions or other contact with criminal justice services. He speaks of the importance of employers not viewing convictions in isolation but instead looking at the whole person and their current circumstances.
Michelle: Today I am speaking to Andrew Morrall, Customer Engagement Manager in the Customer Engagement team at Disclosure Scotland and the subject of today’s discussion is careers and social services.
Andrew: Hi, good afternoon lovely to be here.
Michelle: Firstly, can I just ask you what the role of Disclosure Scotland is, and how does it relate to careers in social services?
Andrew: Disclosure Scotland was established in 2002 and the role of Disclosure Scotland is to provide criminal history information to employers to help them make recruitment decisions. The other purpose that we have is in relation to safeguarding. In relation to safeguarding from Disclosure Scotland we, on behalf of Scottish ministers, manage the protection unit. What the protection unit does is ensure that those individuals who are unsuitable to do work with vulnerable groups are prevented from doing so.
Michelle: Ok great and are there different levels of disclosure as well?
Andrew: There are indeed. There are four levels of disclosure.
There is the basic disclosure which can be used for any purpose; it can be used in social care on occasions where the individual is not doing any post which is eligible for a higher-level disclosure. Sometimes that can be admin work, but it depends on the actual role itself and also where the work is being carried out.
The standard disclosure is used for organisations in social care for example that are registered with the Care Inspectorate. If they are registered with the Care Inspectorate, [employees] will get a standard disclosure and also it is for positions of trust such as accountants, solicitors and somebody maybe working in health services, medical receptionists that type of thing.
Enhanced disclosures are still in place, but they are not used very often. PVG mainly replaced enhanced disclosures. However they are still there for checks for individuals living in the same household as foster carers, or anyone working within the confines of a prison.
These three levels of disclosure are all snapshots in time if you like, in that when we check the criminal history system and the certificate is produced then that is all the information you get.
Once you join the PVG scheme, the PVG is the fourth and highest level of disclosure, and is used for regulated work where we have individuals who work with children and protected adults. What this means is that the individual will still receive the criminal history information, and they will also be joining the PVG scheme which means they become subject to what we call ‘on-going monitoring’. What that means is that Disclosure Scotland will get new pieces of information in every single day - about forty thousand - on PVG scheme members and what we have to look at is to say, is this information relevant to the individual’s work status? So in other words are they going to become a risk by any new information we get in? If they are, then potentially they will come under consideration for listing but that’s not always the case and it does not happen all the time. But it does mean we are looking at somebody’s ongoing information on a daily basis and therefore able to advise organisations making decisions when it is applicable, as opposed to the snapshot in time that the other three levels of disclosure produce.
Michelle: Then tell me who is eligible for PVG registration and how does it work?
Andrew: Ok, for PVG registration basically you need to be doing what we call ‘regulated work’. Now, regulated work is defined under the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007. Basically, what this means is that individuals who are working with children or protected adults will be able to join the PVG scheme. Now for some cases, particularly in likes of the social care sector, social workers for example will be required to register with the Scottish Social Services Council. As a result of that, part of the criteria is you need to join the PVG scheme. Similarly, regulators such as the Care Inspectorate will require individuals who are providing care in care homes or anything like that to actually carry out PVG on that basis. It is a regulator function in that respect, but it is much broader than regulators.
It is an offence to employ an individual who is barred and the best way to ensure that they are not barred is by actually getting a PVG done on that. It covers a much wider area than just social care but we are talking about social care today so that is what we will focus on.
There is a lot of criteria there Michelle, but it really revolves around caring. But it is also important to be clear (for eligibility) on where the work is carried out. So if for example you have got an administrative assistant who is working in a care home and has the opportunity for unsupervised contact with the residents of that care home, they are eligible to join the PVG scheme. If you’re an administrative assistant who is working in a social work department in a council offices, then you’re not eligible to join the PVG scheme because you don’t meet the criteria. It’s common sense when you think about it because it is all about the eligibility and the access to the individuals. Somebody in a care home has much more, and is a higher potential risk, than somebody potentially in an office. So it’s all about proximity even though the job title and the job roles may be similar.
Michelle: And whose responsibility is it then to decide whether certain individuals will need a PVG?
Andrew: The legislation defines the criteria; however it is down to the organisation to ensure that they are meeting the legislation. As I say in some instances it can be [established] by a regulator or it can be the organisation themselves have to establish whether it is PVG or not. Disclosure Scotland we are very keen to ensure that that happens, so we are always available to help people if they are not sure on their eligibility.
Michelle: Ok great and is there cost involved the for PVGs?
Andrew: There is yes, a PVG is £59.00 to join the PVG scheme for the first time. It is £18.00 pounds for a scheme record update which means if you are already a member of a specific workforce then you will pay £18.00 for an update. So for example if I was a member of the PVG scheme and then moved employer, my employer would do a scheme record update on me if I was working with that same workforce.
The cost themselves are set down in legislation, however what’s important is that who pays for it isn’t laid in legislation. So it could be for example an employer will pay for it, as happens in many cases. In some cases the employer pays for it and then the individual will then pay them back, however the repayment method is done. Sometimes it can be paid for if you are receiving support from organisations, sometimes the organisation who is providing that support [to you] will pay for it.
Quite often, individuals when they are starting out, particularly if they come into the criminal justice system and still want to work in social care definitely they can do so (just because you got an conviction doesn’t mean you can’t) but quite often they go through to volunteering. And volunteering, if they are working for a qualified voluntary organisation, the PVGs for such organisations are free of charge to the individual and the organisation. Quite often, even if it is not specifically aimed in the social care services, quite a lot of people volunteer in the first instance as a starting point to moving back towards that type of work.
Michelle: How long does it take to get a PVG registration?
Andrew: From receipt of correctly completed applications, we aim to do it within 14 days. Its 90% because we may sometimes need to go back for more information. Hopefully the new PVG online system will have helped that with no paper forms (if you had missed a box, for example your date of birth, we would have to contact you and that could delay things). However the PVG online system has improved that. There are still delays because for example we have to establish the exact identity of the individual to make sure we are giving the right criminal records for example there are lots of John Smiths living in Scotland and a lot of these have similar dates of birth. We need to be sure that we are issuing the right information; be it criminal history or no criminal history. Now that can sometimes take a bit of time. Sometimes we need to go for further information in relation to an individual, or maybe something that comes in on a record, but again we need to look at that. So basically within 14 days is the main aim, Michelle, but there are other reasons it can be longer than that which is why the 90% is there rather than the 100%.
Michelle: Ok grand, and tell me what kind of information might appear on a PVG?
Andrew: On a PVG certificate you will get a lot of information. Basically it will have your name and address on it. You will also get the name of the person or the organisation you’ve applied to. You will also get a PVG scheme membership number. If you are applying to join for the first time your PVG membership number will be new to you. If, however, you are in the PVG scheme already that number will stay with you throughout your lifetime membership of the scheme or however long you are in the scheme. For example, if I joined the scheme in 2012, I will always retain the membership number I was issued in 2012 even though I am in 2021, and even if I went to work for a different workforce. So if in a care home working with adults and I wanted to go to work with children my PVG scheme membership will stay the same.
You also have a certificate number which is unique to that particular certificate. You will also have the position applied for, so that you know the position you are applying for in relation to that certificate.
From there we then get down to the sort of scheme membership information, if you like, which tells you your scheme membership status. So your scheme membership status means that you will either be a member for children, or you will be a member for adults, or you will be a member for both. It will also tell you your consideration status, so if you’re under consideration for listing either for children or for protected adults (depending on what the application was for) that will be on your certificate.
It is important to know that when you get a PVG certificate it means that you are a PVG scheme member. You are not barred. If you are barred from regulated work, you will not receive a disclosure certificate.
Andrew: So, when you receive your disclosure certificate, it will usually say you are not under consideration for listing, or you are and the workforce if it is relevant.
You will also get vetting information. What we mean by vetting information is it will give you your criminal history: your disclosable criminal history. This could be unspent convictions or relevant spent convictions, or it could be what we refer to as ‘other relevant information’. What I mean by other relevant information, is information that is in addition to conviction information. So it could be for example something that is not a conviction but is relevant to the type of regulated work you would be doing. So if for example I had a pending case for assault against a child, that would not appear under the conviction information because I have not been convicted of it. However if I had applied for regulated work with children it’s very relevant that I have got this pending case. In these circumstances, Disclosure Scotland will contact Police Scotland who hold the information and say we’ve got this application. Police Scotland would then go through their quality assurance framework, checking the relevance of the information and the accuracy of the information and whether they could disclose it safely without harming any possible ongoing investigations. If they choose to do that, they will send the information to Disclosure Scotland and we will put that under other relevant information. It is important to know that we only get about 2-3% of these which will lead to other relevant information which is good in one respect but it’s also important to be clear that the information is relevant and will be given when required.
Michelle: And I suppose it’s proof that the service, this registration, works as well.
Andrew: Absolutely. So you get a lot of information on a PVG certificate which is useful for organisations and individuals. Sometimes if there is other relevant information it allows the organisation and the individual to have a discussion about it. Again, the fact that you are a PVG scheme membership means that you’re not unsuitable for regulated work, but whether you’re suitable for the actual role you’ve applied for is going to be a matter for the organisation. Quite often that discussion can lead to a much better understanding of the situation. Similarly for convictions because the conviction information doesn’t tell you a lot about the incident, we have to disclose exactly what is held in UK central records. You have to dig a bit deeper often.
Michelle: So some groups of people may be more likely to come into contact with criminal justice services, Andrew. Can you provide some insight into this and also suggest some helpful steps that people can take if they are worried about previous convictions or behaviour?
Andrew: Yes what you’ve said is absolutely true. Some people do come into the criminal justice system and are more likely to. An example of that is individuals who go through the care sector, who are care experienced. They are care experienced through no fault of their own. However there are situations where incidents happen where police are involved when this wouldn’t happen if you were at home. You might get a severe telling off from your parents for example, it’s happened to me on numerous occasions. However the same behaviour in a care setting might end up involving the police. That’s really unfortunate but it does happen. There’s a few things that are important in relation to that. The first is that if that does happen and the individual does have information - a criminal offence on their disclosure – what can happen is that the individual can explain to a potential employer details of that information, because it’s not always clear. I know an example where there was a conviction of assault with a blunt instrument, now that sounds like it could be horrendous because with a blunt instrument you are thinking about maybe hammers or something like that but actually it turned out to be a vegetable. So it doesn’t always tell the whole story and it’s really important you investigate the whole story to get the information from the individual, to ensure they get that story over.
The other thing that’s important in relation to this is that individuals can use letters, or disclosure letters, explaining to organisations or potential employers about why that behaviour was there. Quite often, and it’s really really important this point, is that individuals with lived experience – either care experience who want to go back into that sector, or individuals who have got for example experiences of alcohol addiction or drug addiction. These people are ideal for regulated work in that sphere because they have lived that experience and are far more qualified to help people going through the same issues than I am, or most people are, because they have that lived experience and that’s really important. However, quite often in circumstances such as these it does mean that if people who have come into the justice system – I mention care experience.
Alcohol addiction I’ve also alluded to and that’s important because if people are going through this they will come into contact with the criminal justice system more because they are often under the influence of alcohol, they can sometimes get into fights and sometimes the addiction means they might steal to get money for the addiction, or because they’ve spent their money on that and they need to put food on the table. But this can be a temporary situation and it’s important that when organisations get this information, look at the background to it look at it as a whole, look at the person. Don’t look at the conviction itself in isolation. Look at the big picture.
Michelle: So people can go to the Disclosure Scotland website and Scotland Works for You for lots more information about this.
Andrew: Yes the Disclosure Scotland website gives you lots of information in relation to disclosable and relevant disclosable information. There’s also lots of other organisations who are helpful in these situations, organisations like Apex. Police Scotland are approachable – not everyone necessarily thinks that – but they are. So there are lots of sources of information there.
Michelle: So that brings us to the end of the questions. Andrew I just want to thank you for your time and it was great to chat to you about this subject.
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Published on Iriss.fm 15 October 2019 | 10 minutes | 2054 words
On the 16th of September 2019, Iriss attended the launch of the SSSC’s Careers and Care Website which was created to highlight the wide variety of career opportunities available in the sector. The resource demonstrates how people can build a career working with children and young people in social services and health care settings or as a social worker. We spoke to social services practitioners who share their career stories for use on the website. In this second episode of three, Sarah, Gillian and Deborah who work in various adult care settings tell us about their journeys into and experiences of the profession.
Michelle: I’m here with Sarah and Gillian and Deborah, all of whom are either working in care at home, care home or community care environments. Can you tell me: did you always want to work in social services?
Sarah: I’ve only been working in social services for about a year, I’d been bringing up my kids and I’d worked in offices before that and I was looking for a job, came over this on the council website and decided to apply for it and got asked for an interview, and got the job.
Michelle: Well done.
Sarah: And I’ve absolutely loved it. When I go home at night, I feel like I’ve made a difference to somebody’s life.
Michelle: Wow, wow.
Sarah: And really, really enjoy it but I also had quite an ill dad who passed away so, I’m sort of used to looking after people.
Sarah: And my mum’s quite ill and my granny’s quite elderly as well so, sort of used to looking after people as well.
Michelle: Uh huh, so this sort of work really fires you up, I suppose, doesn’t it?
Sarah: Yeah, uh huh. Really, really enjoy it, you feel like you’ve made a difference to people.
Deborah: That sounds similar to me Sarah …
Sarah: Uh huh.
Deborah: … I was working part time and bringing up my children, that was my main focus and then they’re now 14 and 17 and they don’t need you as much and you can go out the house and they’re still in the house and stuff so, I thought I’d better get myself a proper job and I was having a look on the website and I thought, “I think I could do that.” And it said that the qualifications weren’t necessary that they would train you up, you would be put through your SVQ’s which I quite like learning so I was looking forward to that as well and when I went for the job, the manager actually gave me a temporary position to start with. She said that because I was lacking in a lot of experience that she was going to give me a chance because she thought I had all the right values and the right attitude and the enthusiasm and like you say every single day, I tap myself on the back and think, “I’ve really made a difference.”
Sarah: It’s hard work.
Deborah: Yeah and a lot of people who have been in the job for a long time, I think they kind of look at me and roll their eyes cos they can’t believe I’m still bouncing in the door, absolutely loving it and they’re like, “Can I have some of what you had for your breakfast this morning?” I look after either it’s a one to one person or some day’s it’s like one to two or one to three so, like for example my favourite day of the week just now is a Wednesday when I take the lead on a sing and sign class and I had never done sign language before so I’ve had to research it on the internet and then go in and teach a group of people sign language to a song which is absolutely brilliant, jumping about dancing, enjoying myself and show all these people and they’re all loving it, it’s honestly it’s absolutely …
Sarah: Sometimes you forget you’re at work because you’re having such a good time.
Michelle: That’s fantastic to hear, isn’t it? And Gillian, what about yourself?
Gillian: Well for me, I went to college first so, I did 3 years at college. I did the Scottish Group Award and then I did 2 years at the HNC in evening classes while I worked so, I’ve been at the job a long time, probably about 20 years. What I like about it is it’s so versatile, there’s so many different service groups and it’s just lovely to work with people and make a difference.
Michelle: Uh huh and can I ask what a kind of typical day looks like for all of you?
Sarah: It’s a twelve-and-a-half-hour shift …
Michelle: Oh, really?
Sarah: Yeah, start at seven and finish at half past seven at night.
Michelle: You really have to be committed to this work.
Sarah: Yeah, it’s three days a week.
Sarah: But you go in in the morning and you get everybody up slowly, I’ve got fifteen residents on one unit and there’s normally about five of us and a social care worker and we just get them up, breakfast, try and find something to do: dominoes, sometimes a film it just depends on what it’s like or we try and go out if the weather’s good. It’s quite good for the ladies, we can do their hair and stuff.
Sarah: We’ve got curlers and stuff like that, we can do that.
Michelle: So, you have to be hairdresser as well.
Sarah: Yeah, uh huh. The first couple of times it was horrible, you were scared in case you were going to burn somebody, but you’re fine, it’s absolutely fine, you’re not going to but it’s just that panic feeling that you might but it’s just great and then sometimes there’s people that are at end of life care but it’s, I think it’s a privilege to be with they people on their last moments of life, it’s very sad but it is a privilege to be there for their last moments of life and knowing that you’ve done the best for them, for the time that they’ve been there and that they’re going on to their next journey.
Gillian: So, I don’t actually get 12-hour shifts, I live in, so, I’m a live-in professional carer.
Gillian: I’m two weeks on duty, and two weeks off.
Gillian: But yeah, you do get breaks and it’s the same again, it’s very needs led so because it’s live in, in the clients own home you’ll get them up when they want to get up, you’ll assist them to shower when they want to have a shower and that can be when they’re good and ready, you know there’s no demand to move on to the next person cos it’s one to one care, yeah and I really enjoy that.
Deborah: Mine’s is mostly, generally Monday to Friday, nine till four-ish but we also work in some evenings to help with activities and do some weekend work as well, yeah. I’m still like aaahh for two weeks, working for two weeks.
Michelle: Yeah, they’re kind of three different types of (… UNCLEAR) really, that you have. Tell me what are the qualities that you need to do these jobs?
Sarah: You need to be kind.
Gillian: Yeah. I think you need to be dependable, patient and have a great sense of humour …
Gillian: … as well.
Sarah: Have a thick skin.
Sarah: Certainly, thick skin as well.
Gillian: Yeah, good interpersonal skills.
Michelle: Okay so when you say, thick skinned?
Sarah: When you’re working with people with dementia …
Sarah: … they can pick out a lot of things, maybe if you’re a little bit over weight or anything, they can pick up on that and they can really be quite nasty but it’s the illness, it’s not …
Sarah: … them, they don’t mean it.
Gillian: You’ve got supervision, you know, you can discuss any …
Sarah: Just not to take anything to heart.
Gillian: Yes, uh huh.
Sarah: It happens quite often but that’s just the way they are.
Gillian: The person could be in pain, you know there could be so many …
Sarah: Yeah, there’s normally a reason behind it.
Gillian: … reasons, yeah.
Michelle: Yeah but Deborah, you talked about creativity.
Deborah: Yeah, just using your imagination, if things are going wrong or somebody’s not happy or not doing something, you’ve got to try to jolly somebody along and get them to do what they need to be doing.
Sarah: Even when you’re feeling like you don’t really want to do it as well.
Deborah: Yeah, the last couple of hours on a Friday or your fortnight.
Gillian: I have a lady that won’t go out, you know, she’s in a wheelchair and she won’t go out but I’ve seen me bringing the garden in and just setting up compost and pots and …
Sarah: Yeah, yeah.
Gillian: … she’ll do it inside you know, it’s just trying to engage them in something that they will do.
Sarah: And what works for them.
Gillian: For them, yeah.
Michelle: Brilliant, and what advice would you give to those who might be considering or thinking about working in social services and social care?
Gillian: Well I’d say it’s so varied, there’s so many different … you could have learning difficulties, you could have the older adult, it could be … you know, so many different aspects of it, even my own self in the 20 years I’ve been working I’ve had different service groups so, really you don’t have to be just rooted to one spot, you can expand and develop and it keeps things fresh and exciting.
Michelle: Brilliant and you guys are here for the Careers in Care Website launch today which is quite exciting and you’re actually involved in telling your stories.
Sarah: Yes, I told my story.
Michelle: How important do you think this resource is?
Sarah: Very important cos I think a lot of people are frightened to go into the care sector but I say, give it a go cos I never thought that I would be able to do it. You get so much training; you can keep doing more and more training and go on different paths and go to different things like young children instead of adults.
Michelle: There’s really good career progression.
Deborah: Career progression and also a personal journey because I think that since I’ve started doing my job, I see the world in a different, absolutely different way but even just seeing people who’s … I had never worked with people with disabilities, learning disabilities before and I think when like you’re really young, you get told to stay from that man, it’s different up the road, and all that kind of stuff, whereas now I’ll confidently be able to say, “Good morning.” Or, “Hiya.” If I pass someone who’s like looking at you and they’re wondering what you’re doing. Yeah, it’s been a really, absolutely amazing personal journey for me.
Gillian: Even for me, I feel that with an aging population, people are living longer now and you know, there aren’t the same people to do the jobs so, you know, it’s a job that you’re never really going to be stuck for a job, there’s plenty of job …
Sarah: You’re always …
Gillian: … opportunities.
Sarah: … able to get work, yeah.
Gillian: And for people looking for a career, it’s definitely a good choice, if you’re a hands-on person.
Deborah: Yeah, if you’re willing to get stuck in.
Sarah: Definitely hard work but it’s so rewarding.
Gillian: Uh huh.
Sarah: You get so much out of it for you and to watch the other people as well, what they get out of it too.
Michelle: Good ambassadors for the profession. Thanks for that anyway, I think we’ll leave it there, if that’s okay.
Sarah: Brilliant, yeah.
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Modern apprenticeships (MAs) are a great way to support new and existing employees to gain the qualification they need. Apprentices will gain an SVQ alongside certificated workplace core skills. Financial contributions from Skills Development Scotland can support training and assessment.