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Reviewing the standards of proficiency

Following comprehensive review and public consultation, the revised sets of standards for all 15 professions were approved by the Council in March.

The revised standards for each of the 15 professions will come into effect on 1 September 2023 and can be downloaded below.

Revisions for each profession reflect the extent of developments in practice within that profession, in line with feedback from our consultation exercise.

 

Why and how we’ve revised our standards of proficiency

We review our standards on a regular basis to ensure they remain relevant to current practice.

For this review we have:

  • Worked with a wide range of stakeholders to seek views to develop standards in line with current professional practice
  • Reviewed all sets of the standards of proficiency together

Following our previous review, we last published the standards of proficiency on a phased basis from February 2013 to February 2015.

What's the same

The standards still:

  • Are professional standards we consider necessary for safe and effective practice
  • Describe what professionals must know, understand, and be able to do when they apply to join our Register, and to remain on our Register
  • Set expectations for professions on our Register, and explain to the public what they should expect of a HCPC-registered professional
  • Hold applicants to the standards at the point of registration, and registrants at the point of renewal and if fitness to practice concerns are raised
  • Do not set out best practice, and do not limit a registrant’s ability to provide the best care they can
  • Complement other sets of standards, such as our standards for conduct, performance and ethics, and policies and guidance from employers and professional bodies
  • While they are based around a common set, each set of standards is unique to each of our 15 registered professions
  • There are 15 overarching standards, which are broken up into generic standards (which apply to all professions) and standards specific to each profession
  • The purpose of the generic standards is to recognise commonality across all the professions we regulate
  • The standards are not hierarchical in order and are all equally important. We have aimed to order the standards logically and clearly
  • We generally list the generic standards first, followed by profession-specific standards
  • The standards intentionally use verbs such as ‘understand’, ‘know’, and ‘be able to’, to ensure that both prospective registrants and current registrants will be able to meet the standards
  • We write the standards so they are relevant to all registrants in a profession, regardless of their area of practice
  • We use the term ‘service user’ or words like ‘treatment’ or ‘intervention’, even though these may not be the preferred term for all
  • The standards' language should enable them to stay relevant if there are changes in the law, technology or working practices
  • We avoid referring to specific pieces of legislation or particular approaches, to ensure the standards remain relevant over time

What’s different


  • We have changed the wording of the standards to move registrants away from a passive understanding of the standards, and towards active implementation of them.

    Why?

    This reflects the importance of registrants being autonomous and caring professionals. More active wording makes clear the expectations on registrants.

    Examples of how this impacts the standards:

    We have removed ‘be able to’ from the beginning of several standards.

    For example, new phrasing in standard 1 makes clear that registrants must ‘practise safely and effectively’ instead of being able to practise safely and effectively:

    “1. Registrant[s] must practise safely and effectively within their scope of practice”

    In standard 4.2 “initiate solutions” was replaced with “take action”:

    “4.2. Registrant[s] must use their skills, knowledge and experience, and the information available to them, to make informed decisions and take action where necessary.”

     
    Expectations of registrants

    This theme cuts across a registrant’s entire practise. Our standards of conduct, performance and ethics set out active duties for registrants who have identified concerns about safety. In a similar way, the standards of proficiency now expect registrants to be able to demonstrate rather than merely understand the standards of proficiency which apply to them.

    Registrants should consider whether they are always actively implementing all of our standards. Registrants may find it helpful to reflect on our standards and assess themselves against them. For instance, thinking through which specific standards are relevant in a service-user interaction and/or thinking through if there were opportunities for improvement.


  • We have introduced new standards about promoting public health and preventing ill-health.

    Why?

    Registrants are part of a larger healthcare system and play an important role in promoting good health in their professions.

    Specific standards

    Registrants must:

    • 15.1: understand the role of their profession in health promotion, health education and preventing ill-health
    • 15.2: understand how social, economic and environmental factors (wider determinants of health) can influence a person’s health and well-being
    • 15.3: empower and enable individuals (including service users and colleagues) to play a part in managing their own health
    • 15.4: engage in occupational health, including being aware of immunisation requirements

    Expectations of registrants:

    • When providing care, registrants are expected to broadly understand the role they can play in preventing ill-health
    • This may involve advice, referrals or other interventions which may not be directly connected to the reason the service user sought care
    • When thinking about the prevention of ill-health, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for all their service users
    • Many registrants already take this approach and so these new standards may not have a significant impact on them
    • Registrants may find it helpful to include observations about public health and the prevention of ill-health in their notes and reflections

  • We have significantly expanded the role of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), placing specific importance on making sure that practice is inclusive for all service users.

    Why?

    We are committed to ensuring that our registrants can provide healthcare to all their service users. We already had EDI requirements in the SOPs and the standards of conduct, performance, and ethics, and with these changes we have strengthened our EDI commitment.

    Specific standards:

    Registrants must:

    • 5: recognise the impact of culture, equality and diversity on practice and practise in a non-discriminatory and inclusive manner
    • 5.1: respond appropriately to the needs of all different groups and individuals in practice, recognising this can be affected by difference of any kind including, but not limited to, protected characteristics, intersectional experiences and cultural differences
    • 5.2: understand equality legislation and apply it to their practice
    • 5.3: recognise the potential impact of their own values, beliefs and personal biases (which may be unconscious) on practice and take personal action to ensure all service users and carers are treated appropriately with respect and dignity
    • 5.4: understand the duty to make reasonable adjustments in practice and be able to make and support reasonable adjustments in theirs and others’ practice
    • 5.5: recognise the characteristics and consequences of barriers to inclusion, including for socially isolated groups
    • 5.6: actively challenge these barriers, supporting the implementation of change wherever possible
    • 5.6: actively challenge these barriers, supporting the implementation of change wherever possible
    • 5.7: recognise that regard to equality, diversity and inclusion needs to be embedded in the application of all HCPC standards, across all areas of practice

    Expectations of registrants:

    • Registrants are always expected to provide care to all their service users and ensure their specific needs are responded to
    • Registrants should be able to identify when a service user’s care needs to be adjusted because they have a protected characteristic
    • Instead of waiting for a service user to raise the need for accommodations, a registrant should be proactively thinking about how to make the care they offer as accessible as possible

  • We have improved the central role of the service user. This includes registrants understanding the importance of valid consent and effective communication in providing good care.


    Why?

    How we understand a service user’s consent has been evolving and our new standards ask registrants to take a wider range of circumstances into account when determining consent. Standards on confidentiality have also been strengthened and reference emerging technology implications.

    Specific standards:

    Relevant standards are across several different sections covering confidentiality, communication, quality assurance and EDI.

    Registrants must:

    • 2.2: promote and protect the service user’s interests at all times
    • 2.5: respect and uphold the rights, dignity, values, and autonomy of service users, including their role in the assessment, diagnostic, treatment and/or therapeutic process
    • 2.6: recognise that relationships with service users, carers and others should be based on mutual respect and trust, maintaining high standards of care in all circumstances
    • 6.4: understand the need to ensure confidentiality is maintained in all situations in which service users rely on additional communication support (such as interpreters or translators)
    • 7.1: use effective and appropriate verbal and non-verbal skills to communicate with service users, carers, colleagues and others
    • 7.4: work with service users and/or their carers to facilitate the service user’s preferred role in decision-making, and provide service users and carers with the information they may need where appropriate
    • 7.5: modify their own means of communication to address the individual communication needs and preferences of service users and carers, and remove any barriers to communication where possible
    • 7.6: understand the need to support the communication needs of service users and carers, such as through the use of an appropriate interpreter 
    • 7.8: understand the need to provide service users or people acting on their behalf with the information necessary in accessible formats to enable them to make informed decisions
    • 8.1: work in partnership with service users, carers, colleagues and others
    • 8.5: identify anxiety and stress in service users, carers and colleagues, adapting their practice and providing support where appropriate
    • 11.2: gather and use feedback and information, including qualitative and quantitative data, to evaluate the responses of service users to their care
    • 11.5: evaluate care plans or intervention plans using recognised and appropriate outcome measures, in conjunction with the service user where possible, and revise the plans as necessary
    • 13.11: engage service users in research as appropriate

     

    Expectations of registrants:

    • Registrants will already be offering care which is in the best interests of their service users
    • These changes ask registrants to broaden how they think about those interests, and where service user’s needs might require closer scrutiny
    • Every service user is unique, but registrants must be especially mindful of the needs of service users living with a disability or a health condition which impacts their ability to communicate
    • Registrants should consider what additional steps they can take to ensure that a service user remains fully involved in their care
    • Where a service user may not be able to be involved, registrants should document what steps they have taken to involve the service user’s carer, family member, and/or representative

  • We have emphasised the importance of registrants looking after their own mental health and seeking help where necessary as a part of maintaining their fitness to practise.

    Why?

    The previous standards were less about the registrant and their health and more focused on fitness to practise. This wording reflects our position as a compassionate regulator and our understanding of the centrality of registrant wellness.

    Specific standards:

    Registrants must:

    • 3.2: understand the importance of their own mental and physical health and wellbeing strategies in maintaining fitness to practise
    • 3.4: 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

    Expectations of registrants:

    • Our previous standards did not mention mental health expressly and so this is a new duty for registrants
    • If a registrant’s health impacts their ability to practice safely and effectively, then they should not practice
    • Expectations in the new standards are broader than this. We now expect registrants to proactively manage their mental health, understanding that this is a key part of their practise
    • There is not a set way for registrants to meet this standard, but registrants may find it helpful to include wellness goals in their personal assessments or include specific observations about their health and how they manage it in their own notes

  • We have emphasised the need to be able to keep up to date with digital skills and new technologies.

    Why?

    Technology continues to play an expanding role in the work of our registrants. We have made it clear that we expect registrants to maintain their ability to use new technology relevant to their practice.


    Specific standards:

    Registrants must:

    • 6.5: recognise that the concepts of confidentiality and informed consent extend to all mediums, including illustrative clinical records, such as photography, video and audio recordings and digital platforms
    • 7.7: use information, communication and digital technologies appropriate to their practice
    • 9.3: use digital record-keeping tools where required
    • 13.1: be able to change their practice as needed to take account of new developments, technologies and changing contexts

    Expectations of registrants:

    • The use of technology has always been an important part of the way registrants meet the standards
    • The four standards above cover key areas in which registrants should be able to make use of technology
    • This standard does not mean registrants must be able to use all technology relevant to their field, as we know that registrants will have different access to technology based on their work setting and/or employer
    • One way that registrants can integrate the new standards into their practice is through their own records. For instance, when offering telehealth services to a new service user, registrants should:
      • consider how this might impact on the service user’s confidentiality
      • take time to explain to the service user how any of their information might be stored differently when compared to a face-to-face meeting
    • Registrants may also find it useful to specifically direct their CPD to new technology relevant to their field and reflect on the possible impact of new technology on their practice

  • We have emphasised the role and importance of leadership at all levels of practice.

    Why?

    We believe in the importance of registrants being autonomous professionals and in displaying leadership without needing to be in a management role.

    Specific standards:

    Registrants must:

    • 8.6: understand the qualities, behaviours and benefits of leadership
    • 8.7: recognise that leadership is a skill all professionals can demonstrate
    • 8.8: identify their own leadership qualities, behaviours and approaches, taking into account the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion  
    • 8.9: demonstrate leadership behaviours appropriate to their practice

    Expectations of registrants:

    • Leadership is not just about the management or supervision of others, but is an attribute all registrants should demonstrate in their roles
    • Leadership will mean different things in different roles and there is no set way to show leadership
    • We will be developing online material about leadership, but registrants can also consult their professional body, union or employer for further resources

Profession-specific changes

There are also profession-specific changes, to ensure the SOPs reflect contemporary threshold-level practice. These changes are included in the documents linked below.

Profession
Download changes
Download revised standards
Arts therapists Changes Revised standards
Biomedical scientists Changes Revised standards
Chiropodists / podiatrists Changes Revised standards
Clinical scientists Changes Revised standards
Dietitians Changes Revised standards
Hearing aid dispensers Changes Revised standards
Occupational therapists Changes Revised standards
Operating department practitioners Changes Revised standards
Orthoptists Changes Revised standards
Paramedics Changes Revised standards
Physiotherapists Changes Revised standards
Practitioner psychologists Changes Revised standards
Prosthetists / orthotists Changes Revised standards
Radiographers Changes Revised standards
Speech and language therapists Changes Revised standards

 

Page updated on: 25/07/2022
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