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National Occupational Standards

New National Occupational Standards (NOS) designed to improve the quality of social care delivered throughout the country have been launched by Topss England. The revised National Occupational Standards set out competencies for the vast majority of the 1.2 million strong social care workforce. 

The scope of the standards has been increased. In addition to residential work with adults and children the revised standards now cover social care staff working in domiciliary care, adult placement and support for people receiving direct payments in lieu of social service provision. Occupational standards for inter-professional and inter-agency working, particularly in mental health and drugs and alcohol use, have also been included for the first time. 

Welcoming the introduction of the standards, Arthur Keefe Chair of Topss England, said: “The new National Occupational Standards are based on best practice and designed to reflect the changing face of social care. The standards now apply to even more of the social care workforce, which is good news for all service users.” 

Stephen Ladyman, the minister responsible for social care at the Department of Health, said: “These new standards will be an important driver for improving the standard of social care around the country and I commend them to employers.” 

The new National Occupational Standards will form the basis of NVQs at level 2, 3 and 4 and give employers a framework for deciding who does which job, identifying skill gaps in their workforce and retaining staff by giving a structure to staff supervision and appraisal. 

Topss England produced the new National Occupational Standards working with its partners in the new Sector Skills Council - Scottish Social Services Council, Northern Ireland Social Care Council, and Care Council for Wales and its health opposite number, Skills for Health. 

The new National Occupational Standards are available from Topss England on CD-rom. Alternatively they can be downloaded from . Topss England has also produced a Workforce Planning Toolkit as a guide to employers on workforce planning for social care organisations which identifies the importance of using National Occupational Standards in this process.

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