The updated standards of proficiency come into effect on 1 September 2023
Background: what are the updated standards of proficiency?
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 insofar as they are relevant to their scope of practice. There are 15 sets of profession-specific standards (one for each of our 15 professions) and standards that apply to all professions.
The standards of proficiency are complemented by the HCPC standards of conduct, performance and ethics, standards for continuing professional development and the standards for prescribing. We regularly review all these standards to make sure they are relevant to current practice, and can be clearly understood by those who use them. (In fact, a consultation on the standards of conduct, performance and ethics is currently underway – you can read more and contribute now.)
The most recent updates to the standards of proficiency were proposed after a long and detailed review process. This began in 2019 and including a formal consultation and close collaboration with key stakeholders, registrants and professional bodies. The revised sets of standards for all 15 professions were formally approved by our Council in March 2022.
The updates come into effect on 1 September 2023. By this date, every individual on our Register needs to understand the changes and be ready to integrate them into their practice. To learn about the updates and read our guidance, visit www.hcpc-uk.org/updated-sop.
What will the updates improve?
The aim of the updated standards is to have a positive impact on registrants and service users alike. Our consultation and collaboration work aimed to ensure they are flexible, realistic, grounded in current practice and reflective of the extent of developments in practice.
The key changes fall into the following themes, which are set out across these pages, along with our expectations of registrants:
- Active implementation of the standards
- Promoting public health and preventing ill-health
- Equality, diversity and inclusion
- Further centralising the service user
- Registrants’ mental health
- Digital skills and new technologies
Your responsibilities as an employer
What the standards look like in practice will differ between employees and workplaces. However, the role of an employer is to provide an environment in which all HCPC registrants are able to meet their standards and deliver safe and effective practice. Each updated standard requires a conducive culture in which they can be achieved.
Before the updated standards come into effect, it is important that you are familiar with the changes, have reflected on what might need to be adapted or provided to allow them to be met, and put these changes in place.
We recommend you do this by following the below steps.
1Read up on the changes
The changes are available on the HCPC website (www.hcpc-uk.org/updated-sop) along with guidance, support, and webinars that you may wish to watch or attend. You may also wish to check the websites of professional bodies that your employees belong to.
2Consider cultural changes
Identify, through your own reflective practice, gap analysis, discussion with colleagues or pulse surveys, any cultural changes you may need to address to enable employees to meet the standards. For example, do you steward or stifle leadership initiatives your staff suggest?
Encourage your employees to look through the standards and discuss whether they currently meet them, or need to amend their practice to do so. You could discuss questions like:
- Is the service user involved in your service provision currently, and could this be improved in any way so that their voice is heard and the overall service improved?
- How are your services focused on preventing ill-health currently, and are there any opportunities to do this more?
- Can you share ways you currently support registrants’ wellbeing and their physical and mental health, or learn from others’ experiences?
Support your employees to use a gap analysis tool for their individual practice, which will allow them to reflect on the key areas of the updates and identify what they may need to focus on during continuing their professional development (CPD). This can feed into their annual appraisals or supervision. They could present their gap analysis at a team meeting or discuss it with their colleagues.
Put any required changes in place that will allow your employees to meet the standards, and check in regularly to remain aware of any limitations or frustrations they may have.
Example: registrants’ mental health
With current pressures on the healthcare workforce, it is vital that the emotional burden of this is recognised and that registrants have the ability to safeguard their physical and mental health. As a result, the updated standards now emphasise proactive management of mental and physical health as a key aspect of practice, something we know is vital to function safely as practitioners.
This change gives more autonomy to registrants to assess their own mental health and take appropriate actions to protect it. However, this is not possible for an individual to achieve without the support of their employer.
In the updated standards, changes to standard 3 regard mental and physical health. These state that registrants must ‘understand the importance of their own mental and physical health and wellbeing strategies in maintaining fitness to practise’, and that they must ‘develop and adopt clear strategies for physical and mental self-care and self-awareness, to maintain a high standard of professional effectiveness and a safe working environment’.
Providing an environment that allows for this
Providing a safe working environment that allows registrants to manage their mental and physical health will look different in every workplace, and, naturally, the nature of the support needed will differ for every employee.
However, examples of what this provision might look like include:
- Checking in with employees about their health, for example at the start of a one to one session, and trying to proactively "read" staff to know when this is required
- Encouraging the employee to include health as a topic for reflection with an opportunity to discuss, if requested
- Facilitating protected time within which employees can share wellbeing resources and strategies with their colleagues
- Supporting employees to develop wellness goals or strategies for improving and protecting their health
- Providing opportunities through which employees can access pastoral support or personal supervision if needed
- Ensure that registrants are aware of the wellbeing services that they are able to access and promote these within your teams/workplaces
More information on this topic
You can read more employer-specific information about mental health and fitness to practice in Employer Insight: fitness to practise and the updated standards of proficiency
Professional Liaison: employer support from HCPC
If you’re concerned about your workplace or your capacity to create an environment that allows registrants to meet the updated standards, you may wish to contact our Professional Liaison Service. They can clarify the requirements, direct you to appropriate resources or provide personalised support for your workplace, which can include discussion about about the updated standards and how they apply to your registrants.
Further resources on the updated standards of proficiency
Further resources for employers
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