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Copied from the NISCC website News Feature.

News Release - 24 October 2006

NI Social Care Council holds conference on the future of social care in Northern Ireland Social Services have a hugely important role to play in meeting the needs of individuals and communities in Northern Ireland , both now and in the future.
This is the strong message coming from a conference organised by the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC) on how social services can meet the opportunities and challenges presented as a result of the Review of Public Administration and the changes taking place in health and social services.

Opening the Conference, Social Services Minister Paul Goggins said "social services, at their best, promote social change, problem-solving in human relationships and empowerment of people to enhance their own well being and independence.

The role of the Northern Ireland Social Care Council as the workforce regulator is vital to developing a competent and confident workforce; one in which every worker is trusted by those using services and their families and a workforce in which every individual takes pride in and a personal responsibility for delivering on that potential to the highest possible standard.”

The conference heard of the similar challenges facing social services in both England and Scotland .
A recent review carried out there concluded that social care workers' skills are highly valued and increasingly relevant to the changing needs of society.
However there needs to be changes to ensure the best use of these skills.
Social services don't have all of the answers.
They need to work closely with other providers in all sectors to find new ways to design and deliver services across the public sector.
There is also a need to be creative and innovative.
Doing more of the same won't work. Increasing demand, greater complexity and rising expectations mean that the status quo needs to be reviewed.

Paul Martin, Chief Inspector at the Social Services Inspectorate in Northern Ireland laid out his vision for the future of Social Care in Northern Ireland .

Social Care Workers will have to work in increasingly complex, multi professional environments.
In order that they can do this successfully, they need to take greater ownership of their own professionalism.

As a professional regulated by the NISCC they had to demonstrate their knowledge and skills are up to date and supported by regular training and learning.

To support them in this, the Minister had recently launched the PSS Development and Training Strategy which set out important targets for skilling up the workforce and makes it a requirement of registration that social care workers have proper training and qualifications.

Dot Kirby spoke at the conference stressing the importance of engaging with people who use services and ensuring that they have some say over the services they receive was also recognized.
The conference presented delegates with the opportunity to hear of a wide range of developments aimed at improving the training and professionalism of the workforce, which link what's happening in health and social care with the overall skills strategy for Northern Ireland .


Notes to editors:

• For further information on this press release, please contact NISCC Communications Officer, André McKeown Tel: 028 9041 7610, Mobile 07801 445850.

• The Northern Ireland Social Care Council is an independent public body, sponsored by the Department for Health, Social Services and Public Safety. It was established under Section 1 of the Health and Personal Social Services Act (NI) 2001 to register and regulate the social care workforce.

• The Personal Social Services Development and Training Strategy 2006-2016 can be downloaded from

• Options for Excellence is a review of the social care workforce jointly led by the Department of Health (DH) and the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). It sets out a clear vision for the social care workforce of 2020, outlining the areas where change is a priority. The report can be downloaded from

• Report of the recommendations made by the 21st Century Social Work Review Group for the future of social services in Scotland can be downloaded from

Minister launches Development & Training Strategy 2006-2016
19 September 2006

NEW ERA FOR SOCIAL SERVICES LAUNCHED BY GOGGINS Social Services Minister, Paul Goggins, today launched a strategy to boost training throughout the social services workforce and improve safety.

Under the Personal Social Services Development and Training Strategy, all staff, for the first time, will have to undertake training regularly, to maintain their registration with the Northern Ireland Social Care Council.

The Council will then be able to monitor that they are practising safely. The Strategy ensures that people will be supported, through comprehensive training, to maintain those high standards of service.

Paul Goggins said: ‘All of us, at some times in our lives, are likely to need social services.

Often it is when we are at our most vulnerable that we need to use them. We must be able to have confidence that social services staff who come into our homes, or look after us in residential homes or in day centres are highly skilled, well motivated individuals who can deliver a safe and effective service.

The Strategy I am launching today aims to ensure everyone using social services in Northern Ireland can have that confidence.’

Brendan McKeever, who is a member of the service users group of NISCC, said: “I warmly welcome this Strategy. It places service users and carers at the heart of the whole process and gives us a key role in advising and helping to tailor the training.

This means that social care workers get the opportunity to hear ‘from the horse’s mouth’ what sort of services and care are really needed and service users and carers are helping directly to plan and deliver training.”


1. The Northern Ireland Social Care Council was set up in 2001 to improve the protection of the general public who may need to use social services. It operates the social care register for Northern Ireland, which already has, more than 4,000 social workers registered. It is now working to extend registration to the rest of the social services workforce by 2010.

2. The social care workforce is a fast growing sector of the Northern Ireland economy. Current estimates suggest that there are now approximately 40,000 staff working in voluntary and private sector agencies as well as the HSS Trusts. Please see the Fact File, which is contained in Appendix 1 in the Strategy itself.

3 It is estimated that 185, 000 people use social services in Northern Ireland every year.

4. For further information, please contact Catherine Heron, DHSSPS Information Office on 028 9052 2841.

Northern Ireland Social Care Council website

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