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Can we reclaim adult social work too?

This week has offered signs that the debate about the future of adult social work might be about to get moving. Paul Burstow's comments at the launch of the College of Social Work and the press in advance of the College's own event on the future of social work are really interesting. Might we be on the verge of a shift with a White Paper coming up? Is this now the time and opportunity for social work to be reclaimed? In particular can social work make a positive connection to personalisation (I know many individual social workers are trying hard to do so)?

As a registered social worker who has spent 30 years working in a variety of roles in social care, I have both a passionate commitment to independent living and a strong respect for the profession. Personalisation and prevention are at the centre of policy and are developing in practice in social care, but, although progress has been made since the publication of Putting People First in 2007, significant challenges remain.

For social workers reductions in budgets and staff, alongside the restructuring of departments, are of course a major pressure.  But there are also issues about who does what to maximise people's choice and control over their support.

In times like these there is an understandable risk that people sometimes circle the wagons in defence of their existing roles. I would argue though that, however difficult, now is the time for social workers to assert a positive set of roles in the development and delivery of prevention and personalisation, and for their managers to enable this. What might this mean?

Here I will focus mostly on personal budgets while acknowledging that they are only one element of personalisation. Ali Gardner's recent book Personalisation in Social Work considers the complementary value bases of social work and personalisation, reviewing the range of roles that social workers can usefully play in practical delivery of personal budgets from assessment through to review. She persuasively argues that social workers play valuable, sometimes critical roles at each step of the process.  But she also recognises that there are significant questions, given that social workers are a scarce resource and that the goal is self-directed care, about how social workers can best contribute where people have personal budgets.

A recent think piece published by Think Local, Act Personal, titled Re-thinking Support Planning: Ideas for an alternative approach, puts forward some ideas. The focus should be on supporting people to achieve good outcomes using a variety of practical resources. Many people don't need social workers to achieve good outcomes and unnecessary involvement can even delay and restrict self-direction. For others support is best provided through peer support or other offers from user or carer-led organisations.

Other people, however, including those in complex, isolated and risky situations, will often benefit more from the skilled interventions and focused attention of social workers. Better targeting social work skills, coupled with the provision of self-help tools and alternative forms of support, will both serve the needs of a frequently overstretched profession and of those who require social care. Beyond personal budgets there could be serious opportunities for social workers to play a valuable role in helping some people avoid or delay the need for long term care, supporting them to build and use their personal and social capital.

For strategic managers and elected members, this will mean re-conceptualising social work within new local service frameworks and to enable new forms of practice. For social workers it will require a positive, and sometimes assertive, reclaiming of their profession.

Martin Routledge

Note - a version of this piece appeared in the first edition of the College of Social Work Magazine

Resources
Ali Gardner, Personalisation in Social Work, Learning Matters, 2011
Simon Stockon and Helen Sanderson for Think Local Act Personal - Re-thinking Support Planning: Ideas for an alternative approach

6 comments for “Can we reclaim adult social work too?”

  1. Gravatar of TimkeiltyTimkeilty
    posted 03 February 2012 at 21:35:17

    Or perhaps even Simon duffy's new script for social work

  2. Gravatar of MartinMartin
    posted 04 February 2012 at 09:14:37

    Yes Tim Simon and Kate have done a helpful job there taking us back to the simplicity of the original In Control model and setting out/reminding us of the useful roles for social work.

  3. Gravatar of Mike Llywelyn CoxMike Llywelyn Cox
    posted 11 February 2012 at 16:47:50

    With practically all local authority social workers breaching the GSCC Codes of Practice and, more pertinently, the standards and values of the National Occupational Standards, it's tragic. The standard response is 'It's not us, it's the cuts.' but for years I've been saying the line any professional social worker should take is 'That's

  4. Gravatar of Mike Llywelyn CoxMike Llywelyn Cox
    posted 11 February 2012 at 16:47:51

    With practically all local authority social workers breaching the GSCC Codes of Practice and, more pertinently, the standards and values of the National Occupational Standards, it's tragic. The standard response is 'It's not us, it's the cuts.' but for years I've been saying the line any professional social worker should take is 'That's

  5. Gravatar of social work trainingsocial work training
    posted 28 July 2013 at 10:18:27

    cultural function education the absolute right place to locate LCSW guidance, LPC, LMFT clinical administrators. The best clinical supervisiontypicallycomes through LCSW administrators in individual practice that provide guidance in their particular solutions. Thesesupervisors are more invested in ones clinical progress and also the calls for of the task never takepriorityoveryourLCSW Supervision. If we make the decision to be able to beClinicalSocial Perform Professionals along with expand our genuine guidance design, we're presenting our supervisees space, the particular structure and also the basis to be able to create their particular individual voice being a Cultural Employee along with clinician. alright ones all is quite beneficial however, many usually are change it out greatest. enjoy.

  6. Gravatar of LPC SupervisorLPC Supervisor
    posted 08 September 2013 at 14:36:53

    In today’s world, the method of supervision does not need to always be face to face.With technology, the task of social work supervision can often be accomplished via video conferencing, over the phone, or even via email as well as in the more traditional one on one or group settings

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Last Updated : 03 February 2012. Page Author: Laura Bimpson.