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SASW report – March 2014

Looking ahead featured prominently in various gatherings in the first two months of the year. ‘Imagining the Future in 2025’, hosted by the Institute of Research and Innovation in Social Services (IRISS) reminded participants that over the coming 12 years we can anticipate less public money in the system, the integration of health and social care, an emphasis on community-centred services and an ever-evolving regulatory environment; things that will have a major impact on the workforce that will be expected to drive, deliver, and support the sector.

The project aims to explore the key drivers of change facing social services, in turn leading to the creation of a set of national scenarios by the autumn of this year. Discussions at round tables with participants from various organisations, including social workers from local authorities, were especially constructive, informed as they were by the realism of every day work, where service demand and significant pressures dominate practice. The IRISS project team has developed an animated fictional character, Alex Chisholm, a user of social work services. A number of social workers who viewed the suggested inputs available at various stages to support Alex in 2025 will have noted some marvellous electronic devices, and indeed it was a very thought provoking tool; however, what many came away with was a sad picture that lingered for a long time, of a man very alone. 

Leadership capacity
The need to build leadership capacity which is inclusive and makes sure the people it supports are at the centre of service design and delivery was the message accompanying the SSSC’s launch of the ‘Strategy for Building Leadership Capacity in Scotland’s Social Services 2013-2015’. Showcasing strong examples of good leadership, the key strength of this event was the fact that people were able to talk to each other, share, reflect, discuss and plan. SASW referred to our ‘Creating solutions for first and middle managers’ work which took place in 2012-13 in partnership with ADSW. This is something we want to re-visit and update as part of our activities this year.

Membership issues
Akin to Alex Chisholm’s experiences in his later life, social workers have been contacting SASW with various queries and concerns, but also a notable sense of isolation and disconnect. Too many who are overwhelmed by the demand of systems – assessments, reports, KPIs, logging and evidencing on computers – but without the time to engage with the users they are reporting on. Legislation and regulations are adapted and changed too frequently for workers to keep up with and some have found themselves in difficulties through not adhering to procedures.

People make systems but the systems shouldn’t make people, or indeed they shouldn’t be the ‘un-making’ of competent and confident professionals who entered the profession to make a difference to people’s lives – often because they enjoy working with people, not with papers, tick-lists, or computers. We have an opportunity to help reshape the agenda with the ‘Social Work Services Strategic Forum’ exercise, led by the Chief Social Work Adviser, Alan Baird, who contributed to PSW in December. SASW is at the table, but we can’t speak for you if you don’t connect with us.

So, do you know who the SASW members in your work setting are? Are you interested in us coming to your place of work to hear what matters to you and your colleagues? We will be embarking on a series of SASW Sessions in the spring, so please invite us!

Adult Care
Trisha Hall was invited to attend the North Dementia Forum in Glasgow, which brings together participants from various support agencies to discuss the best assistance for service users and how to make most effective use of research and regulations. It also secures active input from service users and their carers. It was most refreshing to have a discussion about social work in this context with the group, and we hope to report on the model being employed in the North East of Glasgow in a future PSW.

International links
In late January BASW hosted a meeting of the International Federation of Social Works’ European Executive as part of planning for a major September 2015 BASW/IFSW Conference in Scotland. This promises to be a most exciting event, about which you can find out far more at the Expo event in Edinburgh on March 18, in future editions of PSW, or by contacting Johan Grant at SASW.

Expo at World Social Work Day
The 2014 Expo event on 18 March promises to be a fabulous occasion where we hope to see many of you at our stand and at our workshops. The evening will then be about the SASW awards, and we want to thank you so much for nominating a strong group of contenders. We will announce the winners on the night but it is safe to say that social work is alive in Scotland – we have the evidence! Let’s continue to unite, talk, and meet, and please encourage others to join so we can ensure our future as a profession.