• Call us now: 0300 303 0444
  • Call us now: 0300 303 0444
In-depth paper

You are here

Care Certificate

21 April, 2015

Care Certificate

Please note the Care Certificate applies to England only.

Q. What is the Care Certificate?

A. Following Sir Robert Francis’ report into the failings at Mid Staffordshire Hospital, the Department of Health commissioned Camilla Cavendish to undertake a review of health and social care support worker education and development. The Cavendish Review was published in July 2013. The first recommendation was that all ‘patient facing’ support workers should complete a ‘Certificate of Fundamental Care’, now called the Care Certificate. The Certificate is completed as part of new employee’s induction. The Certificate came into force on 1 April 2015.

Principles of the Care Certificate

  • Applicable across health and social care
  • Portable/transferable
  • Based on competences
  • Builds on existing induction standards
  • Trains people to be caring, and equips them with the skills to be able to provide quality care

Q. Does the Care Certificate apply to maternity support roles?

A. Yes. It is expected that all newly employed support workers who provide direct care will complete the Certificate, including support workers in maternity. Support workers who provide indirect care and support, for example those carrying out receptionist, administrative or housekeeping roles will not be required to complete the Certificate although they can complete standalone standards if that was deemed useful to their role.

Q. What does completing the Certificate involve?

A. The Certificate is based on fifteen standards (see box below). It replaces the National Minimum Standards for healthcare support workers. Maternity support workers (MSWs) completing the Certificate will receive training on each of the standards and also be assessed in the workplace to ensure that they are able to apply their learning (for example that they can demonstrate an awareness of appropriate communication skills). New MSWs must remain in ‘line of sight’ supervision until they have completed a standard. The Certificate is only awarded after all fifteen standards have been signed off.

The Care Certificate standards

1. Understand Your Role
2. Your Personal Development
3. Duty of Care
4. Equality and Diversity
5. Work in a Person-centred Way
6. Communication
7. Privacy and Dignity
8. Fluids and Nutrition
9. Awareness of mental health, dementia and learning disabilities
10. Safeguarding Adults
11. Safeguarding Children
12. Basic Life Support
13. Health and Safety
14. Handling Information
15. Infection Prevention and Control

Q. How long will it take to complete the Certificate?

A. There is no set time limit for how long new MSWs and other support workers have to complete the Certificate, however the expectation is that for staff working full time it will take up to three months. Staff working part time may take longer.

Q. What happens if you are not successful in completing the Certificate?

A. All newly employed support workers who provide direct care or support are expected to have the Care Certificate. There is no national guidance about how many times a support worker may try to complete the Certificate. Ultimately failure to complete will mean that someone has been judged not to have the appropriate knowledge, attitudes or skills to work as a MSW. This would be dealt with through local performance management procedures.

Q. I have been working as a MSW for a number of years will I need to complete the Certificate?

A. No. The Certificate applies to new recruits not existing staff.

Q. How will the Certificate be assessed?

A. Assessment needs to take place in the workplace and in practice and completed, where possible, face-to-face by an ‘occupationally competent’ person. An assessor is not required to hold a formal assessor qualification but they must understand the work undertaken by MSWs and the principles of assessment for example the use of fair, valid, safe and reliable assessment methods. In most cases assessment will be undertaken by registered midwives but could be carried out by experienced senior level MSWs. New MSWs will complete a workbook recording their progress. Assessment can be carried out holistically – this means that a number of standards might be assessed at once.

Q. I have looked at the guidance on how the standards could be assessed and am not sure that all immediately apply to maternity settings. Is that right?

A. All the fifteen standards are relevant to safe and effective maternity care, however you are right some of the detail of how they will be applied locally is more relevant to a nursing setting. This means that other staff groups (not just MSWs but also therapy assistants, theatre support workers and healthcare support workers in general practice for example) need to agree how they can best be contextualized to their settings.

Q. What does the CQC say about the Care Certificate?

A. To be completed when wording available


The Care Certificate was developed over eighteen months and included a period of testing in thirteen NHS pilot sites. Its formal implementation starts on 1 April 2015, however it is recognised that it is likely to take employers time to review their current inductions programmes and amend them to meet the requirements of the Certificate. From 1 April employers need to be actively planning and preparing implementation.

Q. My trust has a comprehensive induction programme do we need to replace it with the Care Certificate?

A. You will need to map your current programme against the Certificate and ensure that all areas are covered. For many employers it is likely that much of the Certificate will be addressed through existing induction training but it is also likely that some elements will not, particularly assessments.

Q. What happens after the Care Certificate?

A. The Certificate is the start of a support workers journey. The Cavendish Review made a number of recommendations about how the education and development opportunities of support workers could be improved in both health and social care. The Review, which was accepted by the government, recognised the contribution made by support staff to high quality care. At the end of 2014 Health Education England (HEE) published two new policy papers called: Talent for Care and Widening Participation. These set out a range of goals to - improve recruitment in to the NHS (for example by providing more opportunities for work experience), ensure staff have the appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes (for example by using value based recruitment and by completing the Care Certificate) when first employed and that they have opportunities to develop their career including greater support for those who wish to apply for health-funded degree courses (see below).

Q. What information is available to help implement the Certificate?

A. There are a range of materials available on HEE’s website to support implementation (see box below).

Q. Do you receive a certificate once you complete the Care Certificate?

A. Yes. There is a national template that employers can use that is downloadable from HEE’s website.

Q. If you complete the Certificate in one trust and then leave and join another will you need to take the Certificate again?

A. No the Certificate is transferrable – it should be recognised by other employers. Completing the Certificate is one off.

Further information

The Cavendish Review: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/review-of-healthcare-assistants-and-support-workers-in-nhs-and-social-care

The Care Certificate: http://hee.nhs.uk/work-programmes/the-care-certificate-new/

Talent for Care: https://eoe.hee.nhs.uk/our-work/1to4/

Widening participation: https://nw.hee.nhs.uk/our-work/widening-participation-incubator-project/

Printer-friendly version