BASW Chief Executive Dr Ruth Allen responds to the recent BBC File on 4 programme Neglect: The Story of UK Homecare
BBC File on 4’s exposé of home carers who inflict serious abuse and neglect on the people who depend on them highlighted the critical situation of social care for older people.
Social care for older people accounts for more than 70% of requests for adult social care. Social workers have a crucial role in ensuring Care Act duties around advice, advocacy, support and safeguarding are met. However, there has been too little focus on how we can get this vital area of care right.
Current challenges facing social work and social care include lack of funding for social care and NHS impacting on: access to care and support, ability to respond to referrals and quality of services as providers face cuts. There is also a wider issue of lack of concern for older people in society, lack of focus on support for older people and age discrimination. This is within a wider context of a growing ageing population and people living longer with more complex needs, meaning we need good social work support for this group of people.
Social work ethics start with upholding and promoting human dignity for everyone. BASW is currently developing a clear Capabilities Statement about what excellent social work with older people looks like. We are creating this with older people and social workers, with the social care sector, and on behalf of the Department of Health.
We are also developing a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) pathway for social workers based on the Capabilities Statement. The Capabilities Statement will set out the knowledge, skills and values that social workers need to work well with older people. The CPD Pathway will set out the roles that older people’s social workers can have at different stages of their career. It will outline how social workers can develop expertise, and how they will demonstrate this as they move from qualification through their career.
Defining and aspiring for excellence in how we support, empower and safeguard older people won’t be enough but it will help. Along with this we all need to continue shouting for the right for all older people to have a good life.