Support worker framework
The RCSLT support worker framework offers guidance on roles, competencies, education (training) and continuing development of support workers.
(Last updated June 2023)
The RCSLT with funding from Health Education England (HEE, now NHS England), has developed a support worker framework to support the professional training and development of support workers in speech and language therapy. Our page on equality, diversity and inclusion in the support workforce should be referred to, alongside the framework.
It builds upon the work of NHS England (previously Health Education England) and NHS Scotland in developing generic learning frameworks for those working in a healthcare support worker role.
Visit the RCSLT toolkit which provides practical tools to support the implementation of the support worker framework in services and includes Word versions of the clinical and core competencies.
NHS England (previously Health Education England)
- The HEE Support Workforce Programme has been established to provide national leadership and support on recognising, developing and expanding the non-registered AHP workforce.
- AHP Support Worker Competency, Education and Career Development Framework (PDF). This framework was developed by King’s College London, working with HEE and AHP professional bodies and provides guidance on training, education and competencies for AHP support workers, including speech and language therapy support workers. There is a route for progression in this career, with clearly identified common and transferrable skills across eight learning domains.
- AHP Support Workforce Resources to help prepare for the implementation of the AHP support worker competency, education and career development framework.
- Healthcare Support Worker (HCSW) learning framework: based on four pillars of practice: clinical, leadership, facilitating learning and service improvement.
- Support Worker central: Supporting role development and learning and development of nursing, midwifery and allied health professions support workers in Scotland working across all care settings.
- Effective practitioner: NHS Scotland Website Resource: Supporting Allied Health Professionals in practice.
- Learning Tool for Qualified AHP’s (but relevant to all)
- Enhancing Person Centred Care – NHS
- Career Framework: The Healthcare Support Workers Learning Framework and The NMAHP Post-registration Development Framework.
NHS Scotland has led in the production of resources to support learning and development with the ‘four pillars of learning’ approach in place across the allied health professions. This has influenced the development of the framework.
The framework project group drew on members across the devolved nations to ensure the project was relevant across the UK.
Scotland induction standards and codes
The Scottish government has mandatory induction standards which apply to all healthcare support workers (HCSWs) and are required to be met within the first three months of service.
These standards provide a means for ensuring that all new HCSW staff have the knowledge and skills needed to contribute effectively to the delivery of healthcare and to protect the public from harm. The HCSW Induction Standards become the foundations for the Code of Conduct for HCSWs throughout their careers.
The Code of Conduct was introduced by the Scottish Government in recognition of the important role HCSWs play in a patient’s experience of care and services in NHS Scotland. It is a national code which applies to all HCSWs working within the NHS in Scotland. It is based on the following principles: protection of the public, safe, effective and patient-centred care/services, alignment with how healthcare professionals are regulated, making sure standards are consistent across NHS Scotland.
Health Care Support Worker Learning and Development Framework
In 2014, NHS Education for Scotland (NES) were tasked by the Scottish government to develop a national framework for all support staff to increase access to learning and development. In consultation with stakeholders and following the same principles as the Post Registration Career Framework, the Health Care Support Worker (HCSW) Learning Framework was developed.
The HCSW learning framework helps support workers identify areas for learning and development across four pillars of practice: clinical practice, facilitating learning, service improvement, leadership.
The HCSW learning framework recognises the many frameworks already in place and has been developed to work alongside the Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF) and its annual KSF Personal Development Planning and Review Cycle.
Support Worker Central
Within the NES Healthcare support worker team the HCSW ‘voice’ is at the heart of the programme. The support worker central site supports role development and learning for all HCSW across Scotland.
Links to the HCSW learning framework, learning resources, information for managers and educators, induction codes and standards, career pathways, networks, and events on the Support Worker Central site.
Speech and language therapy support workers help care for people with speech and communication difficulties and help those with eating, drinking and swallowing problems.
Speech and language therapy support workers care for a range of people, including:
- people with physical or learning disabilities
- people with mental health problems
- people recovering from illness or a medical condition
- the elderly
Find more information see the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust website.
The NHS Wales framework (PDF) supports the learning and development of all HCSWs. This includes a skills and career development framework for support workers in healthcare, including AHPs, who are part of the NHS Wales workforce.
The framework supports current and future role development by standardising the scope of these roles, and through the development of learning pathways it provides the underpinning knowledge and skills to practise safely.
This framework supports HCSW careers and increases the professionalisation of this core workforce, building on the high-quality services already delivered to individuals by this workforce.
Training and development in Wales
The Welsh Government suggests looking out for jobs while training in a general related qualification in health and social care – an intermediate or advanced level apprenticeship is a great place to start.
Training is usually on-the-job, possibly with day release to college. You might be able to work towards a level 2 or 3 qualification such as a:
- diploma in health and social care,
- diploma in clinical healthcare support,
- certificate or diploma in healthcare support service.
The Open University runs a foundation degree in healthcare practice. To do this, you need to be working in a healthcare setting for at least two days a week.
Agored Cymru also has a Level 3 Diploma in Speech & Language Therapy Support (Wales). This qualification and the units within it are only suitable for learners who are working or are planning to work within a healthcare setting.
Find more information about training and development in Wales at:
Care Quality Commission (CQC)
Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
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