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Care Managers - are you being given the wrong advice about the Level 5 Diploma?

Care Managers - are you being given the wrong advice about the Level 5 Diploma?

Last week a care manager brought our attention to a potential lack of awareness by employers on what certificates care managers and home managers need in order to be employable. Read on and if you've experienced a similar problem we'd love to hear from you. By Matt Farrah.

We recently had a call from a candidate looking at our site for Care Manager jobs. I’ll call her Mary for the purposes of this article, but that’s not her real name.

I’ll outline her story in a moment. But this is a plea to any other care managers or home managers who have had similar issues trying to find a job without a Level 5 Diploma, or even an RMA or NVQ 4. We want to hear from you. We want to know if there really is an issue here that’s widespread. Or is Mary the only one who’s been misinformed by employers and recruiters?

We’d also like to hear the side of the story from recruiters of home managers and care managers. Guideliness like the ones illustrated below are all well and good. But if your clients (the employers) don’t follow them, you’re stuck in the middle.

Here’s the story of a great, but out of work care manager and her struggle to land a job. And here’s also what I found from the CQC and Skills For Care, about why Mary’s struggling....

Mary’s story

Mary’s really annoyed, frustrated and angry with the situation facing her in regards to the new CQC rules about requiring the Level 5 Diploma to work as a care manager.

Mary has 20 years experience working in the care industry. She’s worked in community care jobs, residential care homes jobs, has experience of drink and drug rehabilitation and more. In short, Mary’s very well experienced.

But when she applies for jobs she’s told she’s unemployable without a Level 5 Diploma. She has an NVQ 3 on the old system, and more than enough experience to do the jobs she’s applying for. But she’s told that’s not enough.

Worse still, when she asked how she can get a Level 5 Diploma she was told that she needs to be employed in order to gain this qualification. So she’s unemployable as a care manager. Experienced, but unable to get a job for the lack of a diploma. And she can’t enrol on a diploma course because she’s not in a suitable job.

Mary has since tried to find less senior level work in order to gain the employment required to enrol herself on a course. But in that attempt she’s constantly told she’s over-qualified.

Mary called us, justifiably, at her wits end.

Can this be true? A case of chicken and egg if ever there were one. I was so amazed I thought I’d investigate a bit further.

The Governing Authority’s story

So I’ve done some digging around. Mary’s kind of right. She does need the right paperwork. Or, at least, it would help a lot. But she’s also been given incorrect advice by some of the people she’s applied to. It seems they may not understand the rules that have come in to force. It turns out Mary is, actually, fully employable right now.

Here’s what I discovered....

I firstly called the CQC. Yes, they said, the rules have changed. They changed in January 2012. But the CQC don’t set the rules. They explained the CQC simply states “all care staff must be appropriately qualified”. It’s Skills For Care that are then tasked with organising the appropriate qualifications.

So I called Skills For Care.

Previously, they explained, the appropriate qualifications for a home manager or care manager was the RMA (Registered Managers Award) and the NVQ 4 ‘Leadership and Management for Care Services’. Either would do. Now, since January, it’s the Level 5 Diploma. But, crucially you CAN still use your RMA or your NVQ 4 instead.

So in one respect Mary had been given the correct information: her NVQ 3 is no longer enough for a care manager’s job.

But she’s also been given the wrong information... I explained to Skills For Care that Mary had been told she must have the right paperwork in her hand in order to be employed.

No, they said, this isn’t quite the case. In fact, Skills For Care have actually been very clear to stress (you can download the full guidelines here) that care manager job seekers don’t have to have the Level 5 Diploma, or the NVQ 4 or an RMA before embarking on a new job so long as they can demonstrate competence.

So I’ll be letting Mary know this. She IS employable with her current NVQ 3. An employer can take her on, based on her demonstrable experience. Once employed, according to the guidelines, they would have to enrol her on a course within 3 months of her start date. And she would have to complete it within 2 years. But that’s a much more reasonable state of affairs than the seemingly chicken and egg scenario Mary had been led to believe.

The issue then, and Skills For Care are recognising this, is one of awareness. It seems that recruiters and employers are not aware of these guidelines. They’re turning away great candidates like Mary because they’ve not fully understood the guideliness.

Frustratingly, incredibly, for Mary, it turns out that they could have employed her after all. At a time when recruiters are clambering over themselves to find good, experienced care managers and home managers, we think it’s crucial that this message is put out there.

We’d love to hear from others who are in Mary’s position, or recruiters who have experienced the situation from a different perspective. Please get in touch and we’ll do our best to petition the industry to take note of the detail in the new guidelines. You can contact us via our Facebook page - www.facebook.com/Socialcare.co.uk

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