News Archive 2010

Click on the titles below to check out 2010 news relating to NISCC. Please note that some of the links lead to downloadable documents. Material for other years can be accessed by clicking on the links on the left hand side.



DHSSPS NI Announces Appointment of New NISCC Chair 

Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey today announced the appointment of Mrs Elizabeth Kerr as Chair to the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC). The appointment was made in accordance with the Code of Practice issued by the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland for a four year term from 13 December 2010.

Mrs Elizabeth (Lily) Kerr lives in Belfast. Mrs Kerr has been employed by UNISON, Northern Ireland, from 1983 to date. Since 2004, she has been employed as Head of Bargaining and Representation with responsibility for developing the bargaining strategies across a range of Public and Private Sector Employers. She holds a Senior Management position in the Union and has responsibility for a team of full time officials, including all aspects of their training and development, including staff appraisals. She was formerly employed as Regional Officer with the Union until 2004 and had responsibility for organisation within a number of Branches and across a number Public and Private Sector Employers. It was her role to build a strong Union organisation at local level to represent members up to and including Industrial Tribunals and Professional Hearings and to negotiate with Employers.

Mrs Kerr is currently appointed as a Trade Union Representative Member of the Health and Social Care Board for which she receives annual remuneration of £8,827 and is also a member of the Education and Library Board Staff Commission. She will bring to her role as Chair of the Council her extensive knowledge of the Health and Social Care system across Northern Ireland covering the Statutory, Independent and Voluntary Sectors. In addition, Mrs Kerr has championed Regulation across the entire Social Care family since the establishment of the Northern Ireland Social Care Council and has organised and negotiated on behalf of all grades of Social Care staff.

The Chair of the NISCC receives annual remuneration of £17,060. The appointment was made with the approval of the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety. There are no specific qualifications for appointment. All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland requires the political activity of appointees to be published. Mrs Elizabeth Kerr declared that she has engaged in political activity for the Workers Party in the last five years.


NI Social Care Regulator Welcomes DHSSPS Minister's Plans for the Introduction of Compulsory Registration for Social Care Workers Across Northern Irekand.

James Perry, Acting Chair of the Northern Ireland Social Care Council, today welcomed Social Services Minister, Michael McGimpsey’s statement outlining his plans for the phased introduction of compulsory registration for social care workers across Northern Ireland.

He said: "Social care workers provide vital care and support for over 200,000 people across Northern Ireland every day, helping them to live their lives as independently and safely as possible. Those registered with the NISCC are accountable for standards in their conduct, training and practice. The introduction of compulsory registration for social care workers helps to protect the public from the small number of workers who do not meet the NISCC’s required standards and who are not suitable to work in social care services."

The Minister plans to introduce compulsory registration for social care workers in stages. This will allow registration to be implemented way which is proportionate for the sector in the current economic climate. Social care managers will be one of the first priority groups to register as they have specific responsibility for the standard of care, supervision of staff and provision of services to the public.

Groups in the first stage of roll-out include:

  • Social care managers of residential, day care and domiciliary care;
  • Residential child care workers (unqualified); and
  • Social care workers in adult residential or nursing homes settings.

There are almost 30,000 people working in social care services across NI and about 14,000 of them are already registered with the NISCC. This includes over 5,000 workers social workers for whom registration with the NISCC is already compulsory and 8,000 social care workers who have registered on a voluntary basis. The introduction of compulsory registration for the first priority groups of social care workers will mean that over half (14,000) of all social care workers in NI (27,000) will be registered in this stage.

The Minister indicated that he plans to bring forward compulsory registration for the remaining groups of social care workers as quickly as possible. In confirming his commitment to ensuring that unsuitable people are prevented from working with children or vulnerable adults and to improving the standard of social services, he said: "I believe registration of the workforce plays an important part in achieving this goal and assuring the public of the competence and safety of individual staff to provide a quality service."

The Minister’s statement on compulsory registration for social care workers is available from the DHSSPS (NI) website 


Consultation - Sector Qualification and Learning Strategy for the Social Care and Early Years Sectors

The Sector Qualification and learning Strategy (SQLS) outlines priority skills areas identified by the Early Years and Social Care Sectors. It forms the basis of the future work to be undertaken by Skills for Care and Development across the UK and in Northern Ireland by the NISCC as the NI Sector Skills representative. It is vital to have input from the Social Care and Early Years sectors about the content of SQLS to ensure that the sector’s priorities for qualifications and skills have been heard and represented. This will ensure that the NISCC’s work on behalf of the sector will be relevant.

The Sector Qualification Learning Strategy Summary includes an option to download to the full strategy. Your feedback is important. Please let us know if anything which is important to you in early years and social care has been omitted. The different jurisdictions in the UK all have different sets of needs and priorities and it is important the sector in NI is fully represented. You can submit your comments online at

 Closing dates for submissions is 19 January 2011


Check Your Social Worker is Registered

It is a legal offence for a person to work as a social worker, or to claim to be a social worker in Northern Ireland without being registered with the Norhern Ireland Social Care Council. If you are a person who uses social work services, or you care for someone who does, you can easily check that the social worker is NISCC registered. You can use the ‘Check the Register’ facility on this website at any time. Alternatively, you can contact the NISCC Registration Helpline by calling 028 9041 7600 (helpline open Monday-Friday 10.00-12.00 and 14.00-16.00) or by emailing  Click here to download the Check Your Social Worker is Registered Leaflet (one page pdf).


Regional Social Work Awards 2011 - Strong Competition From Social Work Across NI

Social work is about people, who for a variety of reasons may need extra help and support to cope with everyday living. There are just over 5000 social workers practising in Northern Ireland. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, they are using their professional skills and knowledge to assess the needs of people of all ages and backgrounds; planning and implementing the care and support that allows them to live as independently and safely as possible.

Social workers often work in sensitive and difficult environments with people to help them make positive changes to their situation. This means that the media and the wider public rarely find out about the contribution social workers make to people and communities across Northern Ireland. Good news stories about social work rarely receives public or media attention, yet negative stories relating to social work will make front pages news and be discussed by everyone. The Regional Social Work Awards are an opportunity to promote how social work makes a positive difference to people’s lives. This is an opportunity for social workers to stand up and be proud of their profession.

· The Regional Social Work Awards are to promote and celebrate excellence in social work.

· The Awards are being introduced by the Raising the Profile Group, formed by the Health & Social Care Board to raise the profile of social work

· There are four Awards – three Team Awards and one Individual Award

· An Overall Winner will be selected from each of the Award winners

· The Awards are public recognition of social workers’ achievements.

· Service Users, Carers or Employers who nominating a Team or Individual will have the opportunity to acknowledge the positive contribution social workers have made for them.

The Awards will be presented to the successful finalists at a celebratory lunch in Belfast City Hall on Friday 25 February 2011.


Social Work at is Best 2010 - Conference Report

Celebrating innovation, showcasing best practice and preparing for the future

NISCC, in partnership with the five Health & Social Care Trusts, the voluntary sector and criminal justice recently hosted the Social Work at its Best 2010 conference for over 200 social workers from across NI. This event focused on the key challenges facing newly qualified social workers and new social work managers. This was an opportunity for them to take part in workshops to share best practice and innovative ways they are improving standards in social work.

Speaking at the event, Michael McGimpsey, Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety thanked social workers for the valuable contribution they make in improving the health, safety and social wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people within our society.

The Minister affirmed his support for the social work profession, stating: “Social work is an incredibly important but challenging and demanding career. We need to encourage the best to come forward. We need to make sure social workers are competent and confident in what they do - that you feel supported in working with people in difficult circumstances.”

Keynote speakers at the conference included Sean Holland, Chief Social Services Officer (Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety), Kate Thompson Director of Children’s Services & Executive Director of Social Work (South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust). Uel McIlveen, a Member of NISCC Service User & Carer Participation Group and Vivian McConvey, Director (Voices of Young People in Care) jointly presented some tips from service users on how social workers can provide them with quality care and support. Presentations, speeches and photographs from the conference and workshops will be available to download from the links below (some items still to be uploaded).

DHSSPS Ministers Speech - Social Work at its Best 2010 (pdf)

Service User Presentation - Social Work at its Best 2010 (pdf)

Social Work At Its Best 2010 - Photos (pdf - large file)

Workshop Presentations (powerpoint) to follow


NISCC Registrant and Service User/Carer Responses to DHSSPS Consultation on 10 Year Strategy for Social Work in NI

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety recently consulted on a 10 year strategy for social work in NI. The NISCC hosted events for Service Users, Carers and Registrants to discuss the strategy. The NISCC collated responses gathered from Service Users and Carers and from NISCC Registrants at these events and submitted them to the DHSSPS. These are available to download from the links below. This consultation is now closed. The DHSSPS is now considering all the responses.


DHSSPS Consultation Social Work Strategy - NISCC Registrant Response

DHSSPS Social Work Strategy Consultation - Service User & Carer Response


Business As Usual For NI Social Care Regulator

The Department of Health in London has announced their intention to close the General Social Care Council and transfer their functions as the social care regulator for England to the Health Professions Council.

The Department of Health’s plans to restructure social care workforce regulation in England do not involve the Northern Ireland Social Care Council. The NISCC will work with the DHSSPS(NI) in assessing the implications of the decision for the NISCC.

Jeremy Harbison, NISCC Chair said:
“We have worked closely with the GSCC and our partner Councils in Scotland and Wales to introduce regulation for the social care workforce in each part of the UK. Over the coming months we will continue with this partnership working to ensure that people who use social care services, their carers and the public can be confident that we will maintain consistency in our standards for the social care workforce across the UK as set out in our shared Code of Practice for Social Care Workers. I would like to commend the staff and Council Members of the GSCC who have contributed so much to establishing social care regulation in England and hope that the skills and expertise they have developed will continue into the new structures within the Health Professions Council.”

No further information relating to this press release will be available from the NISCC until the NISCC sponsoring body (DHSSPS NI), has assessed the Department of Health proposals for England.

The full report from the Department of Health on the review of Arms Length Bodies is available to download from the Department of Health website at


Contact Details for Children’s Social Work Gateway Service

The DHSSPS Reform Implementation Team (R.I.T.) has developed a Gateway Service for Children’s Social Work within each of the five Health and Social Care (HSC) Trusts in Northern Ireland.  These teams have been established to ensure consistency in the responses to concerns referred to social services about children and families and in the structures, processes and assessments used by social care professionals.

The table attached provides contact details for Gateway Services in each of the HSC Trusts in NI and it has liason contact details for professionals who require further contact with the team.


Revised Standards for the Assessed Year in Employment

New standards for the Assessed Year in Employment for Newly Qualified Social Workers in NI are effective from 1 July 2010. All new social work graduates in NI must complete successfully the Assessed Year in Employment after they complete their Honours Degree in Social Work. This year is intended to ensure that new registrants have made the transition from student to employee and have demonstrated sustained, continuous, effective competence in the workplace. The NISCC needs to be satisfied that at the end of the year the registrant is safe to practise and is a competent and responsible practitioner. We have now had three years experience of operating the AYE and there have been two monitoring reviews of the HSC Trusts and one review of the other sectors. The NISCC has also undertaken a survey of AYE registrants. The reviews and the survey indicate that the AYE is achieving its aim of improving support to new social work graduates entering employment but there have been some operational difficulties and systems and standards of assessment vary across employers.

In light of this, the NISCC has produced revised guidance for Employers and AYE Registrants, which is effective from 1 July 2010. It sets standards for the AYE, gives guidance on relevant posts for AYE registrants and guidance on performance appraisal. We have also introduced a new system for employer endorsement of successful completion of the AYE. The responsibilities of employers in meeting the revised standards are set out in the DHSSPS Circular HSS (OSS) AYE 3/ 2010. The RQIA will, as appropriate, monitor compliance of the employer responsibilities for implementing the AYE Standards, through inspection and service regulation. The revised NISCC AYE Guidance and DHSSPS Circular are available to download from the Assessed Year in Employment section of the NISCC website.


New Electoral Law Authorises Social Workers to Attest Applications for Postal and Proxy Votes

Changes to electoral law on February 4 2010 give social workers the authority to attest applications for postal and proxy votes in Parliamentary and Northern Ireland Assembly elections. Currently applications for postal and proxy votes for an indefinite period on the grounds of blindness or disability must be attested by a registered medical practitioner, a registered nurse or, if the applicant is in residential care, by the care home manager. This amendment will enable many blind or disabled people who are living in their homes to have their application attested more easily.

Although this change will apply at present to only Parliamentary and Northern Ireland Assembly elections it is likely this will be extended to European Parliament and local government elections.

More information is available from or by calling 0800 4320 712


No Social Work Scapegoating says DHSSPS Minister, Michael McGimpsey

In recent months, despite media criticism of the social work profession, Michael McGimpsey (MLA), the minister responsible for social work in Northern Ireland has publicly stated his support for the social work profession and his appreciation for the difficult job they do. An article published in the January 2010 issue of Professional Social Work magazine highlights a number of incidents where the Minister has praised social workers for undertaking challenging and complex work which most people would not undertake. In a recent Assembly debate the Minister told members: “Social Workers do not come equipped with crystal balls to tell the future, so what staff have to do is make assessments and balance risks. Overwhelmingly they do this very well and we are fortunate to have the workforce we have.”


Fitness to Practise – Degree Partnership Seminar

The Northern Ireland Degree in Social Work Partnership hosted a very successful workshop entitled "Fitness for Practise: Have we got it covered?" on 28th Jan 2010 at the Rosspark Hotel, Kells. This event was held in partnership with NISCC, QUB and UU and was attended by 110 participants. The event focused on "Fitness for Practise" procedures including the new regional protocol "The Management and Reporting Process in relation to factors effecting Practice Learning Opportunities" (Jan 2010). Click on the links below to download presentations from the event.

> University of Ulster Fitness for Professional Practice
> Registration and Regulation for Social Work Students
> Practice Learning Opportunities – Information for Students


NI Regional Wheelchair Reform Group Scoops Prestigious Award

Congratulations to the Regional Wheelchair Reform Group on winning the Health and Social Care (HSC) Engage Award for its Service User Involvement at the recent Institute of Healthcare Management’s Annual Awards ceremony.  The HSC Engage Award acknowledges how health and social care organisations in Northern Ireland are working in partnership with stakeholders and recognises innovative work in personal and public involvement (PPI).  It also offers an excellent opportunity for pioneering work to be distinguished and rewarded.

The Regional Wheelchair Reform Group was made up of service users, occupational therapists, HSC organisations, Department of Health, Social Care and Public Safety, voluntary and community sector representatives. 

The aim of the Group was to develop a person-centred, accessible, responsive and equitable service so that people are provided with a wheelchair as soon as possible after assessment. Following the Review in 2008, a Regional Wheelchair Implementation Board was established and is currently putting into action the recommendations from the Review ensuring that a high quality and more accessible service is available for all wheelchair users across the province.

In accepting the Award, Jacqueline Magee, Service User Facilitator with the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and Co-Chair of the Regional Wheelchair Implementation Board said: “Many of those service users are currently actively involved in the Wheelchair Implementation Board, tasked to ensure that the recommendations of the Reform are put into practice over the coming months.  I would like to personally thank each and every one involved in this reform for their continuous commitment in helping to provide improvements for local wheelchair users.”

Fionnuala McAndrew, Director of Social Services with the HSCB said “I would like to congratulate all members of the Reform Group in winning this award and in particular the service users who took time from their personal lives to join up and have their voices heard in reforming Wheelchair Services in Northern Ireland.”


PQ Chair Retires

A major event for Post Qualifying Social Work in NI in December 2009 was the retirement of Stephanie Irwin who had been Chair of the PQ Partnership since its inception in 1988. All those who know Stephanie will recognise her unique and invaluable contribution to Post Qualifying Social Work Training in Northern Ireland. Professionally, Stephanie’s astuteness, depth of experience and huge commitment to Social Work will be very much missed. More personally, the PQ Partnership will also miss her friendship, kindness and wisdom. A separate Newsletter devoted to Stephanie’s work will be issued by the PQ office in the New Year. In the meantime we express our thanks to her for all her commitment and hard work in leading the development of the successful PQ Framework we have today. As part of the PQ Partnership’s incorporation with the NISCC in April 2009, the PQ Management Board responsibilities are now taken forward by the newly established NISCC PQ Partnership Committee. Eleanor Taggart (NISCC Council Member) has been appointed as the PQ Committee Chair. Eleanor has a long association with PQ education and training and welcomes the opportunity to work with the PQ Membership to build on the excellent achievements of the PQ Partnership over the last 20 years.


Skills for Care and Development Launches New Careers Website

SfC&D has launched its new UK careers website This will be a valuable tool for informing workers new into the sector (or moving within it) on careers pathways and other information across all four countries. The site is rich with information and real case studies, and is accessible in English and Welsh. Promotional material will be distributed to centres such as schools, colleges and Jobcentres to encourage learners to use the website to find out about careers in our sector.