CORU was established as Ireland’s multi profession regulator under The Health and Social Care Professionals Act (2005). CORU is made up of the Health and Social Care Professionals Council, and Registration Boards for each of the professions (currently 15) named in the HSCP Act. The primary remit of CORU is to protect the public by promoting high standards of professional conduct, education, training, and competence (CORU, August 2016).
The Social Care Workers Registration Board (SCWB) was formed in March 2017 to undertake the required preparatory work to allow professional registration of qualified social care practitioners, currently scheduled to commence in 2020. As part of the pre-registration process CORU is engaging with practitioners and all parties involved in the education, training and employment of social care workers. Public consultation topics to date include Standards of Proficiency for Social Care Workers (SCWRB, May 2017) and Criteria for Education and Training Programmes (SCWRB, May 2017).
This study will explore the perspectives of Irish social care students in relation to the role and requirements of CORU registration and the implications for their profession and their professional practice. There appears to be no research to date which addresses social care students’ knowledge, understanding and perspectives on what CORU registration will mean for individuals and the wider profession. The input of students into the consultation process about the future of their profession would seem to be essential if the final agreed standards of proficiency and content of education and training programmes is to reflect and take on board the valuable insight and feedback from those currently undertaking professional training. This research aims to address the current gap in the literature by exploring the perspectives of social care students and presenting evidence on student perspectives for inclusion in the CORU consultation process.
A mixed methods approach. Stage one to consist of a survey of final year level 7 and level 8 social care students at three Institutes of Technology in Ireland. Stage two to explore issues arising at stage one in more depth. This will consist of semi-structured qualitative interviews with level 7 and level 8 social care students from the same three Institutes.
Peer -reviewed journal publications and conference presentations. A contribution to ensuring that student perspectives are included in the CORU consultation process. These will be invaluable as educational providers make adjustments to align current educational provision with regulatory requirements.
Evidence based research on the content and criteria for education and training programmes in professional social care
The aims of the project relate to developing an understanding of the experiences of young people exiting care through the conceptual/theoretical frameworks of youth transitions (see Henderson et al, 2007) and social exclusion (e.g. MacDonald, 2008). The research would potentially examine the factors that promote or inhibit the transitions (e.g. education; employment; housing; etc.) of young people exiting care. Given that this group have experienced restricted forms of social participation and involvement whilst in care (see Stein, 2006 & 2015), this research would provide a useful means of examining issues of youth transitions with this specific context. In particular, the study, following current debates within youth transitions studies (see Heinz, 2009), would aim to analyse the intersection between structural contexts, institutional frameworks and young peoples’ choice/agency as they progress from care. Equally, the research would be valuable in providing a space for the voices of a particularly marginalised and underrepresented group to be heard.
It is anticipated that the study will adopt a primarily qualitative approach, and will utilise semi-structured interviews as the chief method of data collection. This approach is emphasised as the research privileges the views and directs experiences of those involved in the process of exiting care in order to inform an understanding of key issues of relevance (see Parry & Weatherhead, 2014).
Intended participants are young adults that have made the transition from care to adulthood. It is also possible that relevant staff/practitioners working in this area may be included as participants; for example, social care practitioners, aftercare workers, social workers, etc.
Given the potential sensitivities and vulnerabilities of some of the participants and issues the research may work with, strict ethical protocols will be followed in relation to ensuring participation is voluntary and participants are protected from and safeguarded against harm.
It is anticipated that the research would make a meaningful contribution, via conference presentations and publications, to our understanding of significant social issues by aligning theoretical ideas with empirical evidence. It would also be hoped that the study could provide substantive evidence to support recommendations for future practice and policy in relation to the provision of relevant services relating to residential care and aftercare.