Today new Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics have been issued by the HCPC. This is the common document for all their registrants across the 16 regulated professions. This post is going to give an overview of the changes in the document but do read the standards yourselves…
4 pages shorter and much more succinct and readable. The new standards are listed in 50 words as opposed to almost 200 in the old standards.
The format has changed considerably. The number of standards has reduced to 10 from 14 and there are now numbered points and headings under each standard. It is much more readable and easier to reference.
The 10 standards
There is some language change for example – promote and protect interests of service users rather than act in the best interests – same sentiment but more explicit.
The standards now have very succinct headings e.g. delegate appropriately rather than effectively supervise tasks that you asked others to carry out.
There are three new standards – manage risk, report concerns about safety and be open when things go wrong. There are no longer specific standards relating to informed consent and risk of infection, although working with consent is included under the first standard.
The introduction now includes the relevance of the standards to service users, carers and the public as an aid to understanding how they should expect registrants to behave.
Although brief the introduction still emphasises the personal responsibility of each registrant for their conduct. Registrants need to use judgement to make informed and reasonable decisions and meet the standards. They must always be prepared to justify decisions and actions.
Comparing the new and old standards I will highlight what stood out to me as new requirements or different expressions of old requirements:
1.3 You must encourage and help service users, where appropriate, to maintain their own health and well-being, and support them so they can make informed decisions.
1.6 You must challenge colleagues if you think that they have discriminated against, or are discriminating against, service users, carers and colleagues.
Two new emphases here – to encourage service users in their responsibility for their own health and well-being and to challenge discrimination seen in colleagues.
2.1 You must be polite and considerate.
2.2 You must listen to service users and carers and take account of their needs and wishes.
2.3 You must give service users and carers the information they want or need, in a way they can understand.
2.4 You must make sure that, where possible, arrangements are made to meet service users’ and carers’ language and communication needs.
Social media and networking websites
2.7 You must use all forms of communication appropriately and responsibly, including social media and networking websites.
Some more detailed requirements for communication – being polite was not mentioned before. In summary these requirements are necessitating shared decision making between registrant and service user and adapting services to users’ needs.
The standards now include a specific clause regarding the use of social media and networking sites. I am sure this clause will be referred to in many disciplinary cases.
Maintain and develop your knowledge and skills
3.4 You must keep up to date with and follow the law, our guidance and other requirements relevant to your practice.
3.5 You must ask for feedback and use it to improve your practice.
A vague ‘cover all’ statement to make sure that you are complying with all other requirements e.g. health and safety law, safeguarding law etc etc.
A new requirement that you must obtain feedback on your practice and use it to improve.
Follow up concerns
7.5 You must follow up concerns you have reported and, if necessary, escalate them.
7.6 You must acknowledge and act on concerns raised to you, investigating, escalating or dealing with those concerns where it is appropriate for you to do so.
Registrants are now required to follow up on reported concerns and make sure that action is taken. This puts more of the responsibility on registrants but hopefully should result in better outcomes for resolving issues.
8 Be open when things go wrong
Openness with service users and carers
8.1 You must be open and honest when something has gone wrong with the care, treatment or other services that you provide by:
– informing service users or, where appropriate, their carers, that something has gone wrong;
– taking action to put matters right if possible; and
– making sure that service users or, where appropriate, their carers, receive a full and prompt explanation of what has happened and any likely effects.
Deal with concerns and complaints
8.2 You must support service users and carers who want to raise concerns about the care, treatment or other services they have received.
8.3 You must give a helpful and honest response to anyone who complains about the care, treatment or other services they have received.
The whole of section 8 is new and is the requirements of the ‘Duty of Candour’ which has come about from the Francis Inquiry. Registrants must be open and honest about mistakes. Just a word of caution, particularly to those in private practice, whilst this is good practice and you must and should concur but you should only make admissions after discussing the matter with your insurance provider otherwise you may be at risk should a complaint be made. The insurance companies have been very quiet on the matter of the Duty of Candour.
9.2 You must be honest about your experience, qualifications and skills.
9.3 You must make sure that any promotional activities you are involved in are accurate and are not likely to mislead.
9.4 You must declare issues that might create conflicts of interest and make sure that they do not influence your judgement.
The honesty requirements now include specific reference to your experience, qualification and skills. It seems sad that it is necessary to put this detail in.
Take care on social media and networking, get feedback from your patients, if you report concerns you must follow the matter up and be open and honest when things go wrong.
In summary, the changes are not huge, some tweeks and a few additions. There are still some very vague areas but this may be due to the scope of the standards for a large number of professions in different settings.
Other standards are often more explicit about requirements to comply with safeguarding law, handling complaints, advertising law, FGM law etc.
What can other professions learn from these changes?
All professions have been made aware of their responsibilities regarding the Duty of Candour and all professional standards will be adapted to include these. All practitioners need to take care on social media and networking to maintain the standards of professionalism expected of them. Obtaining feedback and working on improving practice should now be the norm for all practitioners.
And finally, be reassured that much of what you are doing is reaching the required standards if you need to improve in a few areas then get the help and information you need and reach the standards.
We’re here to help at Mint, our folder contains all the resources you need. We were very pleased that the Mint folder already includes all these requirements. It’s a great resource to equip you for clinic. You can buy one of the discounted last three copies in stock of the HCPC Mint Folder here and we’ll send you the updated contents in a few weeks too.
We will be revisng the Mint Folder by rearranging the resources to match the layout of the new Standard but won’t be making additions to the content, as it was already up to date.
Some additional thoughts after attending the HCPC live conference 2/2/2016
The HCPC is going to be doing a lot to support registrants in implementing standards. They are working with employers, stakeholders and educationalists as well as registrants to make sure registrants are engaging, owning and using the standards. They will soon be issuing more guidance on the use of social media. They want to encourage the use of social media as a great resource, but some registrants have expressed fear of engaging with social media.
In my summary I probably didn’t emphasise enough the fact that standard 7 is a new requirement. Raising concerns and supporting colleagues who raise concerns is now in the standards. If you have any concerns you must report them and follow-up on the escalation of the matter if necessary. Work is being done with employers and organisations to work out exactly what this means in practice. The HCPC has produced some further guidance and a flow chart of action to take here.
The HCPC emphasised that under the duty of being open and honest when things go wrong, standard 8, apologising is important, powerful and it is what patients want. It was also made clear that an apology is not an admission of liability. Good to hear some clarity on this point.
There was an interesting discussion at the conference about the value placed on professional judgement. The HCPC have made it clear that professional judgement is to be used but have not demonstrated how that fits alongside the standards. It sounded as though they will work to provide more clarity on this through examples etc.
The HCPC is working hard to ensure the professions they regulate embrace the new standards and take an active role in the journey of implementation.
At Mint we are here to help practitioners in private practice by providing the resources you need to implement standards in your practice.