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Social workers should have a key role in recruiting the right care staff for the elderly

BASW is one of a number of organisations who submitted evidence to the commission for dignity in care draft report, which has just been published.

The Association now wants to see action on recruiting people who have the innate skills to care for the elderly, not more hand-wringing, and is willing to support any initiative in this direction.

Ruth Cartwright, BASW England manager, comments:

“Front line social workers, who are in general very aware of how people need to be helped and supported and who are trying to do this every day, are in an ideal position to be called upon to help interview those who wish to enter the caring professions in hospitals, care homes or in people’s own homes to identify those with the right qualities.

“At the same time, people engaged in the most difficult and intimate personal care of people with great needs should be well paid and valued within society rather than marginalised along with those they care for.

“It was encouraging to hear Sir Keith Pearson, co-chair of the Commission, say that staff caring for older people who could not or would not treat people with common respect and courtesy “have to go”.

“I am glad Sir Keith did not repeat the same platitudes about people in a caring role such as nurses and residential care workers needing more training, views that were expressed by senior managers and commentators after scandals such as Stafford hospital and Winterbourne View.

“Empathy, as social workers know, is both very simple and very complicated – in a caring role you have to have some understanding of how people may be feeling, but you have also to act professionally, not dissolving into tears when people are distressed, but instead seek to do something to help them.

“Some critics have blamed the perceived “over qualification” of nurses for some of the poor way people particularly older people are dealt with in NHS and social care settings, but BASW unequivocally puts the blame at the door of the individuals involved.

“We also accuse the target driven culture in many hospitals and throughout social care, where speed is valued at the expense of humane treatment, and the attitude of many senior managers, who completely fail to understand that patients and service users are people just like them.

“If changes are to be made and people are to be treated with common, human decency at a time of need, the Government and all agencies involved need to look very hard, not only at the individuals perpetrating this dreadful, disrespectful and on occasion abusive behaviour, but at the systems within which they work which condone and at times encourage this. Real people are suffering and this is simply not good enough.”