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Updating your knowledge and skills

If you are returning to practice and have not practised for two years or more, we need you to update your knowledge and skills as follows:

2 to 5 years out of practice – 30 days of updating

5 or more years out of practice – 60 days of updating

In the ‘days’ requirements above, we consider 1 day to be equivalent to 7 hours.

Your period of updating knowledge and skills can be made up of any combination of: 

‘Supervised practice’ means practising under the supervision of a registered professional.

To complete a period of supervised practice, you will need to identify a supervisor. Your supervisor must:

  • have been on the relevant part of the HCPC Register for at least the previous three years; and
  • not be subject to any fitness to practise proceedings or sanctions
    (such as a caution or conditions of practice).

We do not set detailed requirements for the level of supervision needed, or the tasks that you need to carry out. We believe that this is best decided between you and your supervisor, based on your learning needs.

Your supervisor should only supervise activities which are within their own scope of practice. This is so they can provide relevant input and guidance, and also to make sure that both you and they are practising safely and effectively. This means that your period of supervised practice could be carried out, for example, in teaching, management or research, or wherever your supervisor practises their profession.

Unfortunately, we cannot help with arranging placements or finding opportunities for supervised practice.

‘Formal study’ is a period of structured study which is provided by a person or organisation.

This can include distance learning or e-learning, or any other type of course or programme that is relevant to your practice.

Types of formal study that you might choose to take could include:

  • ‘return to practice’ programmes run by educational institutions or other bodies;
  • relevant continuing professional development (CPD) courses;
  • relevant modules or elements currently included in programmes run by educational institutions; or
  • programmes offered by professional bodies.

We do not approve return to practice courses, because their availability will vary among professions and we believe that you are best placed to decide which courses are most appropriate, and which types of formal study will best update your skills and knowledge so that you can re-enter practice safely

‘Private study’ is a period of study which you structure yourself.

You should be aware that private study can only make up no more than half of the total period (ie, 15 of your 30 days of updating, or 30 of your 60 days of updating).

If you choose to use private study as part of your updating, you could use resources such as:

  • websites;
  • library books; and
  • journals.

You may want to spend time observing or shadowing another professional. We treat this as private study rather than supervised practice if there is no formal arrangement for supervision in place. 

The aim of private study may be to refresh your skills and knowledge, or to bring you up to date with current developments in health or social care which are relevant to your profession. Time spent reflecting on and recording your learning can count towards
your private study.

You may find private study a particularly useful option if you plan to return to a field which is extremely specialised, where there may be limited opportunities for formal study or supervised practice.

It may also prove useful if you live in an area where it is difficult to gain a period of supervised practice, or if you need to fit your updating period around other demands on your time, such as another job, or caring responsibilities.

You do not need to carry out updating of all three types.

Our only requirement is that private study must not make up any more than half the period.

For example, if you needed to do 30 days of updating, you could do this by completing:

- 30 days of supervised practice;

- 10 days of supervised practice, 10 days of private study, and 10 days of formal study; or

- 15 days of private study, and 15 days of formal study.

This is not a full list of possible combinations. The above are just examples to show how our requirements are flexible enough to meet your requirements.


Structuring your period of updating

We know that the updating you need to complete will be individual to you. The activities you carry out to update your knowledge and skills will depend on:

  • the area in which you plan to work when you begin practising again;
  • your prior experience;
  • any relevant skills you gained whilst out of practice; and
  • any relevant developments in your profession during the time when you were out of practice.

You may find it useful to use the standards of proficiency for your  profession as a basis for thinking about which areas you should concentrate on. If you are entitled to an ‘annotation’ on the Register because you have completed an additional qualification (for example, in prescribing), you should consider whether it is necessary for you to complete updating activities relevant to this area of practice.

By asking you to carry out a certain number of ‘updating days’, we are providing an outline which allows you to structure your period of updating in the way which best reflects your needs. 

You do not have to do your period of updating full-time, you can complete it part-time if you want. For the purposes of completing your forms, we treat one day as being equivalent to seven hours. 

You also do not have to complete your entire period of updating at once. You can carry out part of your period of updating, have a break, and then come back and complete the rest.

Our only requirement for the timescale is that all of your updating needs to be completed, from start to finish, within the 24 months* before you apply for registration or readmission (or within six months from when you renew your registration).

We believe that this strikes a balance between operating a flexible system, which recognises that you may have family and caring commitments, and that if updating is carried out over a very long period, the opportunities for development are limited. If you think you may not be able to meet this timescale, please contact us to discuss your circumstances.

* We would usually require that all of an applicant’s updating is completed, from start to finish, within the 12 months before they apply for registration or readmission. We are temporarily extending this period to 24 months due to COVID-19.

As a returner to practice, you are responsible for your own period of updating and for making sure that you meet our standards before you return to practice.

We will ask you for information so that we can check that your updating period took place, but you are responsible for the learning that you carry out and for making a professional decision as to whether this updating is enough to allow you to practise safely and effectively.
All professionals, once registered with us, have to make sure that they meet our standards. This includes meeting our standards of conduct, performance and ethics, which mean that you practise within your scope of practice.

We believe that most professionals will take this responsibility seriously, and will carry out their updating in good faith. However, if after you have re-registered with us, we find that you are not practising in a way that meets our standards, we could take action against you using our fitness to practise process. Similarly, if we find that the information you have supplied is not accurate, we could take action which may include removing you from the Register.

Our requirements do not replace the responsibilities of an employer in appointing, inducting, and supporting members of staff.

Any employer who wants to employ you will need to set their own requirements in terms of knowledge, skills, qualifications and experience for any particular post, and will assess you for a post to make sure they make a suitable appointment.

We expect that an induction process would follow and the employer would want to put in place a process of support for you while you become familiar with practice again. This could include mentoring or using review and other support mechanisms.
Equally, an employer may have a specific requirement for a certain profession, or for your role, that you should update in a certain area, in a certain way, or to do with a certain issue, before you can work for them.

However, we realise that not all registrants have employers, and some are self-employed. This is why we set our own requirements, rather than rely entirely on local induction or support methods.

You might identify a potential employer, and carry out your updating period as part of your induction with them. Equally, you might complete your updating period, then become registered, then begin to look for a job. Our requirements mean that you can choose to update and look for work in whatever order is most convenient for you, most acceptable to your employer, or usual for your profession.

Page updated on: 17/08/2020
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