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The creation of the Academy of Care Practitioners was announced by Care Forum Wales at a conference at Glyndŵr University, in Wrexham. The new organisation will be the first of its kind in the UK.
It was officially launched at the Senedd in Cardiff on Monday, May 21st, a reception hosted by the Minister for Health and Social Services, Lesley Griffiths, and the Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services, Gwenda Thomas.
The news was welcomed by social care worker Tracey Green, from Wrexham. She said, "I think the support of a professional body like the Academy of Care Practitioners will be important to everybody who works in social care. We are currently one of the few professions, unlike social work and nursing, that does not enjoy the benefits of a professional body which will also help to raise the profile and the status of people employed in the care sector."
It was a sentiment echoed by Teresa Pritchard, who took part in a pilot project for the Academy of Care Practitioners. She said, "When you are promoting career pathways and personal development, an independent voice and somewhere where you can go for advice and support is very valuable. Sometimes you need more than just the employer or the regulator.
"As a concept, it's been widely supported for some time and the pilot project we have undertaken has shown overwhelming support of care practitioners themselves.
"It is widely acknowledged that professional bodies can be a real source of support and greatly assist in promoting best practice and raising standards to the benefit of service users."
Mario Kreft MBE, Chair of Care Forum Wales, said: "We talk a lot about raising the status and the professionalism of the social care workforce. One of the biggest issues in our view is that vocationally qualified social care workers are a profession without their own professional body. We believe it's about time that was put right.
"Due to the nature of the demanding job, it's unrealistic to expect the care practitioners themselves in Wales to be able to bring about the creation of their own body. It is time social care workers were given some assistance to make this a reality. It's really about providing a support mechanism, helping people with their personal and professional development, and gaining added value benefits.
"This innovation will create the first body of its type for social care workers in the UK and it is fitting that it should be created in Wales where we have seen a great deal of innovation in recent years.
"We are delighted that Professor Mike Scott, Vice Chancellor of Glyndŵr University, has seen fit to support this initiative for the first two years while it establishes itself. It's very important that something like this is seen as independent, that it's not part of any employer group, so its home for the foreseeable future will be Glyndŵr University."
Professor Michael Scott, Glyndŵr University Vice-Chancellor said: "Glyndŵr University has recognised the need for an independent body helping to assure the profession, the government and stakeholders to have confidence in the important work of social care across the country. It is delighted therefore to work with Care Forum Wales to host and thereby help facilitate the creation and development of the new Academy of Care Practitioners as a significant step forward for the profession."
Speaking at the event, Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said: "I recognise and value the support the Academy of Care Practitioners is already providing to the social care workforce and I hope the announcement by Care Forum Wales will have the desired effect of bringing the Academy to the attention of a wider audience of care workers in Wales.
"This development will add to the reputation of social care work as an attractive and challenging occupation making a real difference to the every day lives of people in Wales."