As the updated standards of proficiency come into effect on 1 September 2023, you might be wondering what you need to do as a manager or employer of HCPC registrants.
Read on to understand what has changed and what you can do to support your employees to meet the updated standards.
About the standards
Firstly, some background. The HCPC standards of proficiency set the threshold (entry level) requirements for the safe and effective practice of each profession. Our registrants are required to meet these standards when they join the Register, and continue to meet them while registered, as far as they are relevant to their scope of practice. There is a set of standards of proficiency for each of the 15 professions we regulate.
The recent updates were made after a long and detailed review process, which included close collaboration with key stakeholders, registrants and professional bodies. This work indicated that standards must be grounded in the reality of current practice and reflective of recent developments in practice.
The updated standards of proficiency will come into effect on 1 September 2023, and every registrant must be ready to meet them from this date.
There are changes to the standards for all professions, and changes to profession-specific standards. In the standards for all professions, the key changes fall into a number of themes:
- Promoting public health and preventing ill-health
Registrants are part of a larger healthcare system and play an important role in promoting good health in their professions. Registrants may find it helpful to include observations about public health and the prevention of ill-health in their notes and reflections.
- Equality, diversity and inclusion
The updated standards include significant content around equality, diversity and inclusion. They place specific importance on making sure that practice is inclusive of, and accessible by, all service users. Registrants must be proactive in ensuring this.
- Further centralising the service user
Since the previous standards of proficiency were published, many aspects of service delivery have evolved. The updated standards ask registrants to take a wide range of factors into account when delivering care, putting the service user and their unique needs at its centre.
- Registrants’ mental health
The standards aim to recognise the current pressures on the healthcare workforce and the emotional burden this places on registrants. The updates emphasise registrants assessing their own level of health, managing it effectively and seeking support when needed.
- Digital skills and new technologies
Keeping up to date with digital skills and new technology is vital in providing safe and effective care. It continues to play an important role in the work of HCPC registrants, one that is always developing. The updated standards embed this principle into practice.
All registrants can demonstrate leadership without needing to be in a managerial role. It is important that registrants understand this, and see leadership an essential part of their day-to-day work and activity.
Across all the standards, the wording they use has moved away from passive understanding of the standards, and towards active implementation of them.
The updates extend beyond those listed in the themes above. To see all the updates you can view comparison tables, which list all the changes for each profesison.
What the updates will mean in practice will depend on the role, workplace and individual scope of practice of the registrant. One registrant may begin spending time researching digital record-keeping, while another may create a learning plan that includes professional development workshops. The standards are written at an intentionally high level, to ensure they are flexible to all registrants and to allow the use of professional judgement when applying them.
Many registrants will be meeting the updated standards already. However, it is important that, before they come into effect, registrants have spent some time considering any adaptations or changes that they may need to implement.
What’s not changing
A note on what is not changing. Besides the updated standards of proficiency, there are no further changes to our other standards or requirements at this time.
There are no new registration processes that registrants need to complete on 1 September to stay on the Register, and we are not asking registrants to provide evidence of how they are meeting the updated standards, outside of a normal CPD audit.
Under the standards for CPD, registrants are required to keep continuous, up-to-date and accurate records of their CPD activities. A record of any CPD completed to learn about and prepare for the updated standards should be kept by the registrant.
How to support your employees
What the standards look like in practice will differ between employees and workplaces, and, as an employer of health and care professionals, you will want to ensure your employees meet their standards.
Before the updated standards come into effect, it is important that you reflect on the support that your HCPC-registered employees might need to ensure they are ready to meet the updated standards.
We recommend you do this by following the below steps.
1Read up on the changes
As a first step, we recommend that employers have a working knowledge of the standards that apply to their employees, and an understanding of the ways in which they do.
The updated standards for each profession are available on our website. You’ll also find information around the key areas of change, information and resources. You may also wish to check the websites of the professional bodies that your employees belong to.
Tip: Download the HCPC’s awareness poster for your workplace, to remind the whole team about the updates
We recommend encouraging your employees to carry out a gap analysis on their individual practice, which can identify areas of potential focus. They can use the HCPC gap analysis tool for this. This will allow them to reflect on the updated standards and identify those areas that they may need to focus their CPD activities on.
You can support your employees to develop a plan of activities from this, which can be undertaken as part of their CPD. The activities don’t need to be formal training: they could include, for example, research into socially-isolated groups, or learning about the potential impacts of AI on practice. You could also use this as a starting point for creating a learning and development plan, which can feed into their annual appraisals or supervision in the long term.
Tip: Choose one or more employees to present their gap analysis at a team meeting and facilitate a group discussion
3Research and discussion
Encourage your employees to read and discuss the updated standards at a team meeting. Ask them to reflect on whether they currently meet the updated standards, or need to develop their practice in order to do so. Our reflective practice toolkit might help here.
In a team meeting, you could discuss questions like:
- How is the service user currently involved in your service provision? Could this be improved so that their voice is heard and the overall service improved?
- How are our services focused on preventing ill-health, and are there any opportunities to do this more?
- How do we look after our own health and wellbeing, and could we take better care of ourselves?
Tip: Remind your employees that they only need to meet the standards as far as they relate to their scope of practice
Put the required changes in place that will allow your employees to meet the standards, and add an agenda point to team meetings or one-to-ones, to allow employees to express any concerns or ask any questions.
How the HCPC can support you
Our Professional Liaison Service can work in partnership with you to support the development of cultures, working environments and practice to enable our registrants to embed and achieve high professional standards. There is no charge for the service we provide.
Further resources on the updated standards of proficiency
- Learning material
- Information and support