BASW Cymru responds to Welsh Government plans for College of Social Care and Social Work
BASW Cymru has responded to initial proposals by the Welsh Assembly Government to develop a College of Social Care and Social Work, run by the Care Council for Wales, with a statement outlining a series of questions and concerns. The response follows a speech by Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Social Services, at the National Social Services Conference in Wales last week.
The Association will be following this up through discussions with all those involved in social work policy development in Wales and will be able to report more shortly.
See full statement below.
Issues in relation to Written Statement by The Welsh Government
‘Policy Statement for Social Services Regulation and Inspection’
By Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Social Services
On 27th June 2013
Whilst much of the statement made at the National Social Services Conference in Wales at Llandudno, is to be welcomed, there are 2 key areas that will need further exploration. These are: -
i) The absence of any intended regulation of the Code of Practice for Employers of Social Care Workers; and
ii) The consideration of setting up a College of Social Care and Social Work, run by the Care Council for Wales.
i] Regulation of the Code of Practice for Employers of Social Care Workers
Much of the Deputy Minister’s speech talks about the enhancement of regulation and inspection to further protect service users and carers. BASW Cymru supports these improvements, but we wish to point out that there are still too many examples of employers not being held to account in relation to the Code of Practice for Employers of Social Care Workers. Examples of this are bullying cultures to prevent social workers in maintaining their ethical values and adhering to the Code of Practice for Social Care Workers, lack of management and professional supervision, and the lack of development opportunities.
This doesn’t mean that all employers are ignoring their responsibilities, but that this is inconsistent across Wales. This means that the standards of service received by service users and carers will vary, depending on the quality of employers.
If social workers are appropriately regulated against their Code, why isn’t the Code for Employers regulated as well?
The responsibility of providing good quality and effective services to users and carers in Wales will require a commitment by providers, professionals and employers to make it a reality.
ii] The consideration of setting up a College of Social Care and Social Work run by the Care Council for Wales
In the Welsh Government White Paper ‘ Sustainable Social Services for Wales: A Framework for Action’ published in early 2011, it was stated ‘Therefore we are not, as a Government, minded at this point to develop a National College of Social Work in Wales’.
In the space of 2 years there appears to be a potential U-turn on that decision, plus adding in social care and giving it to the regulator to manage on behalf of the professions. This is profoundly confused thinking between the job of the regulator and the role of the professional organisation run by the profession.
Or is part of the hidden agenda to change the model of regulation for social workers and social care workers so that it is funded as a self-regulator by the profession, rather than government funded on behalf of the public? The government will need to come clean about their intentions.
Firstly, BASW has been fighting hard in recent years for the creation of a UK College of Social Work, which incorporates the devolved nature of each country. This would provide leadership for the profession as well as include the right for the profession to be consulted on issues relating to social work. However, this proposal raises the following points and issues:
Why is a proposed College in Wales, merging the very different and separate nature of social care and social work? Would this be done for any other profession e.g. nursing?
Why is Wales proposing a separate College from other countries? Isn’t this divisive whilst we are still part of the UK? This is certainly one of the criticisms of the English College.
a) Why wasn’t BASW Cymru consulted before this was proposed?
b) Why is the proposal suggesting that the regulator (the Care Council for Wales) form the College? How can the regulator of social workers hold others to account on behalf of the profession if they are a quango funded by government money e.g. how will they challenge the Government on issues when they receive their funding from them? They are not independent.
c) Why would the Care Council for Wales be funded to provide a knowledge hub for social workers when BASW already has one that operates at a country, UK and wider level? Isn’t this duplication and a waste of Government money?
d) How will a new College fight for the ethical standards to be upheld?
e) How will a new College be funded? Out of the public purse? BASW and BASW Cymru are completely self-financing.
In order to engage positively with the consultation on proposal, BASW and BASW Cymru will seek discussion with key parties to ensure that any development is independent and responsive and reflective of the social work profession.
We will state our desires to address these issues, to ensure that social workers can provide the best possible services to the most vulnerable people in our communities, and their carers, across Wales.
We will publicise our engagement to protect social work from being managerially and/or Government managed – as happens in England.
We will ensure that the social work profession continues to be the voice of members which is independent – like other professions.
1st July 2013