Taming the Wild West: Health support workers, regulation and public protection
Speaker: Mike Saks
Date/Time: January 30, 10 AM – 12 PM
Link to Presentation Slides: Mike Saks Presentation (.pdf file)
In Ontario, as in other jurisdictions nationally and internationally, personal support workers (PSWs or their equivalents) are now providing more of the care to vulnerable individuals (such as older persons with chronic health and social needs) previously provided by families and regulated health professionals.
There are clear benefits. PSWs can deliver a range of essential supports for everyday living (such as homemaking, meals, and personal care) thus promoting the independence and quality of life of cared-for persons, while reducing the load on family caregivers, and providing a cost-effective care option for stretched health care systems.
There are also clear challenges. PSWs are not regulated by government, do not have established standards of education or practice, and often provide care to vulnerable persons (such as seniors) in situations (such as the family home) where they are not monitored or subject to peer review.
How have policy-makers set the balance in other jurisdictions?
Professor Mike Saks led a major field breaking study in the United Kingdom commissioned by the UK Departments of Health examining the roles and responsibilities of health support workers, with particular reference to their regulation and public protection. In this presentation he outlines the results of the study and concludes that it is necessary to tame the Wild West for public benefit.
Professor Mike Saks is Visiting Professor of Health Policy in the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto (IHPME). He is also Research Professor of Health Policy at University Campus Suffolk (UCS) and Visiting Professor in Health and Community Studies at the University of Lincoln – having recently held a Visiting Chair in Sociology at the University of Essex. He studied for his doctorate in Sociology at the London School of Economics and is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors, the Institute of Knowledge Exchange and the Royal Society of Arts. He was formerly Provost and Chief Executive at UCS, Senior Pro Vice Chancellor/Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Lincoln and Dean of Faculty of Health and Community Studies at De Montfort University. He is currently a Governor on the Board of Rose Bruford College, an international University of Theatre and Performance in London – and is a previous member of the Executive of the University of Essex and the University of East Anglia, which conjointly own UCS.
Professor Saks has continued to publish extensively in this context on health, professions, regulation and research methods. He has given many keynote presentations at international conferences – a number of which he has co-organised. He has also produced numerous journal articles/chapters, as well as more than a dozen edited and single authored books with top publishers, including most recently Orthodox and Alternative Medicine: Politics, Professionalization and Health Care (2003), Rethinking Professional Governance: International Directions in Health Care (2008) and Researching Health: Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods (2013). His latest book with Routledge is The Professions, State and the Market: Medicine in Britain, the United States and Russia (2015 forthcoming). His work spans several social sciences, from politics and social policy to his base discipline of sociology. He is an energetic champion of high impact single and multi-disciplinary work in the health field.
His research activity has enabled him to be an influential educator. In tandem with his long and successful teaching and learning career in universities and well-received international presentations, Mike Saks has been a member/chair of many NHS committees at all levels, including nationally – from the changing healthcare workforce to research and development. He was recently a member of, and academic adviser to, the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Research for Patient Benefit Committee and the Board of Suffolk NHS Primary Care Trust (PCT) in the UK. He has formally advised the UK Departments of Health and professional bodies, including the General Medical Council and the General Social Care Council, on the regulation of health and social care professions. He has been Chair of the UK Human Tissue Bank and the Research Council for Complementary Medicine at crucial times in their recent development.
Internationally, he has participated in prestigious funded research studies ranging from the changing attitudes of physicians with the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow to care in the community with the University of Toronto. In 2013 he gave the annual Distinguished Professor Lecture in Sociology and Social Policy at Arizona State University in the United States. He was also a guest of the Azerbaijani government at the International Humanitarian Conference in Baku in 2013/14 as a co-chair and speaker, along with fourteen Nobel Prize winners and eight Heads of State. More recently in March 2014, he was an adviser to the Canadian government both federally and in the provinces/territories, as a recipient of the Best Brains Exchange Award from Health Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He is now the Vice President of the International Sociological Association Research Committee on Professional Groups, with members from some 30 countries, following a four year term as President. He has just been elected on to the Board of the International Sociological Association Research Committee on the Sociology of Health and is a member of the Editorial/Advisory Board of several international journals.