The new Care Workforce Pathway for adult social care

Developed by the UK government in partnership with Skills for Care, the new Care Workforce Pathway is a framework which outlines the knowledge, skills, values and behaviours required of people working in adult social care services.

The new Care Workforce Pathway sets out the values, skills and behaviours required of adult social care workersCo-developed by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Skills for Care, representatives from the adult social care workforce and people receiving care and support, the new Care Workforce Pathway has been introduced to provide a clearly defined and nationally recognised progression structure for workers in adult social care.

The first phase was launched earlier this year. It focuses on staff working in direct care roles and outlines an initial four role categories. These are:

  1. New to Care
  2. Care or Support Worker
  3. Supervisor or Leader
  4. Practice Leader

Each role category may span a number of different job titles with similar responsibilities. But, essentially, each category comprises a defined set of behaviours, knowledge and skills expected of an individual working at that level in adult social care.

They also outline the specific areas of practice and current suggested learning opportunities for workers at that level. A role category persona is provided for each as an example of what someone within that role category might be doing in their job.

The new Care Workforce Pathway sets out how workers within each category can develop at that level, building on their existing knowledge and skills to provide the best possible care to the people they support.

Further role categories are being scoped out to represent deputy managers, registered managers, enhanced care worker and personal assistant roles, and more.

A Care Workforce Pathway built on evidence and experience

The DHSC and Skills for Care developed the Care Workforce Pathway after gathering evidence from the sector and people receiving care and supportSkills for Care says the new Care Workforce Pathway will help to “empower people working in social care to develop themselves and their career by setting out how they can gain skills, access learning and development and progress in their careers in a way that meets their aspirations.”

The pathway was developed using evidence and extensive research in the care sector. It aims to reflect the realities of adult social care in the UK and to build on existing good practices while evolving with changes in the sector.

In developing the new Care Workforce Pathway, the DHSC and Skills for Care used responses to a call for evidence, which ran for 8 weeks in April and May last year. This received 586 responses and asked:

  • What the Care Workforce Pathway should include
  • How it should be set out and how we can support people working in care and adult social care employers to use it

They also asked for examples of what was currently working well in the sector, what needed to change, what barriers and challenges existed, and how they could address them. The DHSC published a response to the call for evidence along with the first phase of the pathway.

Care Workforce Pathway defines sector values

The new Care Workforce Pathway will provide care workers with a clear line of progressionIt is hoped the pathway will lead to better training, clearer career progression and improved job prospects for adult social care workers.

It is also designed to help achieve the government’s 10-year vision for the adult social care workforce, set out in the People at the Heart of Care whitepaper in December 2021, to ensure it is recognised as a professional workforce.

In addition to the role categories, the first phase of the Care Workforce Pathway also sets out universal sector values.

These values apply to all role categories defined in the first phase of the pathway and any that will be added in further phases. They have been co-developed with people with lived experience of receiving care and support, and they set out what people want from the workers who provide this support. They include:

  • Kind, compassionate and empathetic
  • Honest, trustworthy and reliable
  • Respect
  • Courageous and principled
  • See the whole person
  • Flexible, open and learning
  • Proud and positive

All behaviours defined in the Care Workforce Pathway should be viewed in the context of these values, which the DHSC has described as the “bedrock of our approach.”

Next steps for the Care Workforce Pathway

The new Care Workforce Pathway will see future phases introduced this summer and beyondAccording to the DHSC, the new Care Workforce Pathway will work alongside wider workforce reforms to enable workers to build a “portable portfolio of skills” which they have gained through formal training programmes and practical experience in care settings.

Implementation of the Care Workforce Pathway will be supported through government-funded training places. This includes introducing a new accredited Care Certificate qualification, among other training subjects and a Digital Skills Passport.

The pathway can now be used by leaders and managers in the adult social care sector to inform the learning and development of their teams. The DHSC says they should be reviewing the first phase of the pathway and considering how they can implement it. This could include:

  • Adopting the values in the pathway
  • Looking at how existing organisational structures and job roles map onto the pathway
  • Using the pathway to structure conversations about careers, development and progression with employees

The DHSC and Skills for Care are continuing to work in partnership on phase 2 of the pathway, which includes the development of further role categories for Deputy Managers and Registered Managers.

They are currently engaging further with the sector for feedback on the content they have developed so far, including the behaviours they should show, the descriptions for these roles and the knowledge and skills people working in these roles should have. Their survey should take around 30 minutes to complete and will close on Monday 13th May 2024 at 23:39. You can access the survey online. If you have any further comments that can’t be included in the survey, you can also e-mail and state that you are contacting them regarding the registered manager and deputy manager role categories survey.

They will also look to develop further parts of the Care Workforce Pathway, which the government has said will eventually cover the whole adult social care workforce, and plan for implementation and adoption across the sector.

Further updates are expected to be announced this summer.

The DHSC will also be launching a programme of early adopters to help refine the pathway. They explained in an overview to the pathway:

“In order to see the full benefits of the pathway, it will need to be widely adopted across the sector. We want to understand more about how the sector will use the pathway and what conditions are important for it to be widely adopted across the sector. We want to understand more about how the sector will use the pathway and what conditions are important for it to be widely adopted and seen as helpful.

“DHSC will be launching a programme of early adopters – a small number of adult social care providers who will test the fundamental elements of the pathway.”

Supporting the progression of the adult social care workforce

First Response Training supports enhanced support and recognition for the adult social care workforceFirst Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and more.

Their health and social care range includes Moving and AssistingPerson Centred CareDuty of CareSafeguarding Adults and many more.

They are endorsed by Skills for Care for their classroom, webinar and e-learning training provision for adult social care organisations.

A trainer from FRT says:

“As a company which works with hundreds of providers across the adult social care sector to ensure their teams are receiving vital training, we welcome efforts to enhance learning and development opportunities for the care workforce and to improve the perception of a career in adult social care.

“It is imperative that these individuals are recognised and respected as professional workers doing an important job, with a wide range of skills, experiences and expert knowledge.

“We will be happy to work with care organisations to support them in navigating the Care Workforce Pathway, offering guidance and helping them to fulfil training and development requirements.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to