In every profession, professionals must follow specific rules and regulations. In health care the same applies where nurses and other professionals within the field such as social workers must observe certain set of principles of regulations. It is important to mention that every profession has its unique set of regulatory principles even when they are in the same discipline. In the UK, Nurses are under the regulation of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) is responsible for regulating and raising standards for social service workers. The aim of this report is to explore the two professions, the professional training required registrations, codes of conduct and professional boundaries, expected ethical behaviour, care governance as well as the professional accountability and responsibility for both professions will be analysed in a bid to determine their similarities and differences.
Professional Education and Training
According to the NMC, all nurses and midwives are required to complete a nursing programme of education that they approve. The minimum entry requirement for nurses is a bachelor’s degree (NMC 2018). After completion of education, every nurse is required to register with NMC upon which the body ensures that the concerned individual meets all the requirements of good health and character. Within the United Kingdom, the Approved Educational Institutions (AEI’s) are responsible for running any form of nursing education. The course takes three years although different routes exist for individuals with prior education (NMC 2018). In all cases, Individuals enrolled within the course are assessed on their ability to offer unbiased information and skills of effective communication. The SSSC encourages education and training which allows social workers to an increased practise and skills while they are employed, social workers must continue their training to remain on the register because the “register for social service workers is function based” (SSSC,2011). rather than the level of qualification they hold. There are ranges of undergraduate programmes with a duration of three to four years of studying and two years for postgraduate health care programs available in universities across Scotland depending on the line of social work career they wish to join. There is also a flexible degree in social work offered in the Open University (Open University, 2018 p.1). The degree offers individuals a chance to study amid a busy schedule.
Professional Registration and Revalidation
In the UK, professional registration for nurses and midwives goes through the NMC. The NMC creates a register for all nursing professionals that qualify to work within the UK, all nurses go through revalidation for them to demonstrate that their skills are up to date and remain fit to practice (NMC 2018). Once registered a nurse may be revalidated or removed from the register. For nurse revalidation to be considered a nurse must have accomplished at least 450 hours in their respective disciplines in a period of not less than three years after the last date of previous registration or after joining. Revalidation is granted based on practice hours, positive practice related feedback, continued professional development and reflective accounts presented in written from. Out of the thirty-five hours of CPD, at least twenty hours must have included participatory learning (NMC 2018). Ideally, regulations dictate that all nursing practitioners (NP) maintain detailed records of the CPD they have gone through. Participatory learning includes activities such as participation in extra training programs or workshops. The cost of registration in the United Kingdom currently stands at £120.
Social workers must be registered with the appropriate regulatory body. In Scotland, the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) sets registration for standards of continuing personal development (CPD) and regulation for practice for social workers. Social workers renew their registration every 3 to 5 years, newly qualified social workers are required to pay an application and annual fee of £80 with continued training provided by the employer.
Codes of Conduct
The NMC has a set guideline of standards that nurses, and midwives are expected to observe to ensure they remain members of the body, the code was introduced in 2005 and was recently updated in October of 2018. The standards laid out in the code are based on four themes believed to be the pillars of quality of care for patients (NMC, 2018). The themes are upholding professionalism and promoting trust, ensuring safety always, effective practice and prioritising the people. Nurses and midwives who fail to adhere to the stipulated codes are liable for suspension from duty, paying of fines, arraignment in court and permanent removal from the NMC register depending on the degree of their misconduct. The code of conduct is however not a tool to intimidate nurses and midwives. It is a tool to guide them and improve their professionalism (NMC, 2018).
The SSSC codes of conduct are written in two sections, and 12 codes of practices in total both the employer and employees, on the part of social workers there is a clear set of standards that they must abide with to as a tool towards their duties and the improvement of their practice in the care environment. “The SSSC clearly states in their 3rd theme “as a social service employer, you must provide learning and development opportunities to enable social service workers to strengthen and develop their skills and knowledge” (SSSC,2016). Registration is done online for both professions.
Comparing both professions, it highlights that the SSSC have more codes of practises that they must adhere to as compared to the NMC, and the similarity is that they must abide by these codes of practice to be registered and remain on the register.
Ethical Behaviour and Professional Boundaries
Nurses and Social workers are met ethical matters regularly throughout their practice and they are cultured to recognise these issues, Nurses must abide by the ethics and boundaries set by the NMC, which include treating patients under ones care with dignity, without discrimination and providing patients with all the relevant support and information they need to access health care(NMC,2018). Nurses should ensure to maintain the margin of boundaries between a patient and themselves so that their decision making, and responsibilities are not influenced or biased in any way. NMC and SSSC thus mentioned within the codes of practice that they must at all times maintain an untainted professional boundaries with patients within their care which includes; accepting gifts, not asking or accepting loans, handling of cash or any form pf close nit relationship with patients as this might lead the patient on falsely thus negatively impacting on their wellbeing. The 4th team of the NMC states that nurses and midwives should “promote professionalism and trust” (NMC,2018) and as a social worker “I will be truthful, open, honest and trustworthy” (SSSC,2016) not abiding by any of this code will lead to an investigation being carried which could lead to registration being revoked.
Framework of Care Governance within the Health and Social Care Sector
Nurses and Social workers are governed by the same clinical governance within the UK, the framework was formed by a joint body instituted by the Public Bodies (Joint Working) Scotland Act of 2014(gov. scot,2018 p.3). This framework integrate care for both health and all social care services which allows for a difference to the services which are given to patients and service user when needed, facilitate services to individual and where such services are given. Nurses and social workers in this instance will need to work together to ensure different skills, experience, knowledge and perspectives can be brought together to mend the result of care needed by individuals (gov. scot,2018).
Some limits that transpire within the professional practice of both professions includes levels of accountability and responsibility, these limits apply to nurses and social workers, both professions must know they are answerable before the criminal court should they fail to accomplish their obligations according to their terms of employment (Sue Ryle). Regulatory bodies closely monitor nurses and social workers actions concerning standards of practice and patient care, such bodies include Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS)is an organisation with various arm of duties whose aims are to help both regulatory bodies to improve on problems that may have risen within a work place as well as provide standard health and social care for people.(HIS,2011) Quality assurance and standards of care are the minimum standards which should be met in any care situation and are used to assess and evaluate the quality of care being given.
In conclusion, nurses and social workers play a vital role in supporting the healthcare system, well laid out principles of regulation guide nurses and social workers. The two professionals are similar in numerous aspects since they involve dealing with vulnerable and the aging population in the United Kingdom. Nurses go through vigorous training and education due to their scope of work compared to social workers. However, the two professions are guided, registered and revalidated by different organisations and professional bodies.
Ann. G., & Sue. H., 2012. Ethics, Law and Professional Issues: A Practice – Based Approach for Health Professionals. 1st ed. Hampshire. England: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 26-40
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