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Care Act helping but cuts and lack of resources limiting true potential, BASW survey finds

The Care Act is helping social workers ensure the needs of service users are met but cuts to services are limiting its effectiveness. A survey by BASW England’s Adults Policy, Practice and Education Group found the Act was helping to improve practice and make safeguarding personal. But social workers said their ability to enhance people’s wellbeing and achieve the goal of preventing, reducing or delaying need for care and support was limited by lack of resource.

Comments by some of the 95 BASW members who responded showed much positivity around the Act introduced last year to fix the “broken” care and support system for adults and people with disabilities. One respondent said: “The focus on prevent, reduce and delay has resulted in a shift from reactive practice to preventable practice.” But typical of less favourable comments was: “The spirit of the legislation is good… but consistent underfunding and time pressures make it very difficult.”

The findings suggest the Act’s biggest success is in ensuring a more personal approach to safeguarding, with 46 per cent agreeing this has been achieved. A far lower 21 per cent thought this hadn’t been achieved, while 17 per cent didn’t express a view either way. Nearly a third said they have been more able to help people with care and support needs achieve their desired outcomes, compared to only one in five who thought they had not. Nearly 40 per cent expressed no view either way.

Four out of ten respondents believed the Act has helped them improve their practice compared to less than two out of ten who said it hadn’t. One commented: “The Care Act has made things more clear with regards to our duties”. Another said: “It has enabled me to argue the case for emotional and social needs”. “A greater emphasis on identifying strengths” was also welcomed. Less positive was one respondent who said: “Resources or lack of them and increased paperwork are a recurrent theme”.

Issues with the assessment process, including too great a focus on physical tasks rather than psychological and emotional needs, were highlighted. Difficulties identifying outcomes for older people with dementia or Alzheimer’s was another problem, along with assessing the needs of people with autism.

Ensuring safer workloads was cited as the most important area for improvement, followed by effective continuing professional development; having the right tools and resources to do the job and receiving “effective and appropriate supervision”. Such factors no doubt contributed to a quarter of respondents disagreeing or strongly disagreeing that the Act has improved people’s wellbeing. This compared to just over 16 per cent who thought it had led to improvements.

Another worrying finding was that 40 per cent disagreed with a statement saying the aims of preventing, reducing and delaying needs for care and support have been achieved. Nearly 28 per cent neither agreed or disagreed and only 20 per cent agreed with the statement. Only 36 per cent of respondents thought their employer had provided sufficient training.

Read a report on the survey findings HERE