Why there should be a Royal College of Care Workers

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Taken from the Department for Health and Social Care’s “Work in Social Care” advertising campaign, this still shows a lady caring at home for an individual who uses a wheelchair. The subtitle reads: “You have to have quite a strong heart and a strong head for this job.”]

What’s the difference between a carer and a care worker?

Good question. They sound similar, but they describe slightly different backgrounds.

Why is care work so important?

Christie Watson, nurse and author, wrote about the importance of seeing the whole person, rather than just “treating the numbers” — appreciating that getting Mrs Watson’s sodium levels and heart rate down to “baseline” is just part of the picture, and sometimes not even the most important part to Mrs Watson herself. Care workers are there, day in, day out (sometimes multiple visits a day) providing the type of relationship-centred, qualitative care that numbers are, at times, a bit redundant for. It may be a little reductive to put it this way, but if good health care provides good health, good social care can provide good quality of life. We need to be publicly and vocally supporting and developing those who provide it.

What’s a Royal College?

Historically, a Royal College was simply a teaching establishment which received royal patronage and was explicitly granted the right to use the prefix Royal by the Queen. Such colleges spanned education, music, sciences, and the arts. Royal Colleges have also come to encompass professional bodies dedicated to improving and maintaining practices and standards of healthcare.

What does a Royal College do, exactly?

The Royal Medical Colleges — as they are collectively known — span a few different roles but are essentially membership organisations. For example, the Royal College of Physicians represents over 37,000 doctors in the UK and internationally, and the Royal College of Nursing a whopping 432,000 nurses. A Royal College may also function as a Trade Union, and allow student and retiree members. In my opinion, the heart of the organisations is this membership and the community that comes as a corollary. In addition, Royal Colleges build out many functional limbs; some kind of national yearly conference or event, bringing prominence to groundbreaking research and providing networking and support opportunities; the ability to provide training and signpost re-certification at regulated intervals and to specific national standards; opportunities for personal & professional development and career-investment.

How would a Royal College of Care Workers actually make a difference?

  1. A Royal College would help with public recognition and promotion of the profession
[IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Taken from the Department for Health and Social Care’s “Work in Social Care” advertising campaign, this still shows an older and a younger man looking at photographs together. The subtitle reads: “When you care, every day makes a difference.”]

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Lucy Mitchell

Lucy Mitchell

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Technical Writer. Former NHS OT and software developer in health tech. I like bikes and plants. www.ioreka.dev