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BASW England & Cymru launches new Test, Access, Rights campaign

Call for social workers to be tested regularly to allow safe access to promote rights, strengths and wellbeing of people, families and communities in health and care settings

Today, BASW England and BASW Cymru have jointly launched a new campaign to change national guidelines for social workers to get regular, safe access to health and care settings, so they can carry out their statutory duties and protect the human rights of citizens in care.

The Test, Safe Access, Promote Rights campaign is in response to blanket restrictions on visiting and access applied across care and health settings, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

These restrictions regularly see social workers being denied access to people and settings, as evidenced by a BASW survey and feedback from members.

This has adversely impacted social workers’ ability to carry out important duties such as Mental Capacity Act (MCA) assessments and Deprivation of Liberty (DoLS) assessments, and their duty to safeguard citizens’ human rights.

Our campaign calls for…

Test…Designated Social Worker Professional Visitors must be tested for Covid-19 on a weekly basis and have negative test results prior to visiting someone in a health/care setting or supported living.

Safe AccessSocial Workers must be given priority access to people living in health, care and supported living settings through testing, rigorous infection control, access to PPE

Promote RightsSocial workers’ core values are built upon social justice and promoting human rights. We need safe access into health and care settings living to ensure citizens are living the healthiest and fulfilling lives possible.

Commenting on the launch, Maris Stratulis, BASW England National Director, said: “We must learn from the experiences of the first national lockdown and the devastating impact on people in care homes and supported living environments from not having enough contact with people in their lives.”

“Changing national guidelines and implementing regular testing of social workers now will allow them to safely carry out their duties and promote the rights, strengths and wellbeing of people, families and communities.

“We cannot return to closed cultures or blanket banning of visitors to care and health settings – testing, proportionate risk assessments, safe access and promoting rights will minimise further curtailment of freedoms and human rights.”

Stratulis urged key stakeholders in the health and care sectors, and wider social care community, to “join the campaign”, especially as we approach the winter months with more citizens expected to need health and care settings, supported living and/or discharge units from hospital. 

BASW Cymru National Director, Allison Hulmes, said: “In Wales, we have been asking, Vaughan Gething, the Minister for Health and Social Services directly since early in the pandemic for social workers to be regularly tested and have the correct PPE in order to enter care settings.

“Unless this happens, social workers are unable to promote and support the human rights of some of the most vulnerable citizens in Wales.”

National Care Forum backs Test, Safe Access, Protect Rights campaign

National Care Forum (NCF), the leading member association for not-for-profit social care providers, is supporting the Test, Safe Access, Protect Rights campaign. 

Vic Raynor, Executive Director at National Care Forum, said: “National Care Forum are delighted that BASW fully supports the call for the government to ensure that care homes are supported to enable visits by families and loved ones.

"Social workers remain central to this campaign -  with advocating for human centred care, promoting well being and promoting people’s rights being core social work principles. Engaging with people face to face is central to person-centred care and more than ever the pandemic has highlighted the value of good social work practice to ensure the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard.

"We urge all social workers to continue to push for Professional Visitor status in order that human rights are protected and statutory duties are carried out in a dignified manner.”

NCF is leading a coalition of over 60 organisations, which together are urging government to to ensure that care homes are supported to enable visits by families and loved ones during the pandemic.

For more information on the Test, Safe Access, Protect Rights campaign please visit the Test, Safe Access, Promote Rights hub