One could be forgiven for thinking that social work is only about working with children and families. The Daniel Pelka serious case review (SCR) understandably monopolised headlines and as always BASW staff and members appeared across the media.
It is interesting the SCR on Gloria Foster was published at the same time, but had a lot less coverage. Social workers will know that a lot is happening in the world of social work with adults. The Gloria Foster case was the result of a private care agency suddenly being closed down – in this case by the Border Agency.
Budget pressures: The challenges and problems of the market in social care create huge pressures on social workers. Some local authorities are trying to make social work less bureaucratic, but the overwhelming pressure on budgets militates against this.
Panels for decision-making about expenditure were created as quality assurance mechanisms, but some are little more than a thinly-disguised delaying tactic to save money. Periodically we hear of reports of reclaiming social work in adults. Hammersmith and Fulham, Hounslow, Sutton and others all make such claims and most councils state they are committed to personalisation and prevention and integration with health and developing community capital.
All are an important part of the answer to increased demand and reduced budgets, but BASW members tell us there is often a gulf between stated policy and the reality. You say you are under great pressure, not only due to the volume of cases, but the increasing complexity of the work.
Welfare reforms are also having a direct impact on adult social workers. We heard of one social worker who in one week has had to deal with two separate suicide attempts caused by the stress of the bedroom tax.
Success stories: On a more positive note, is it pleasing that some members tell us their senior managers are actively engaging social workers in seeking solutions to problems of budgets and workload demands and the integration agenda. In spite of the constraints, there are some great success stories of coming up with solutions in very challenging situations.
Such a joint approach between front line social workers and managers is the only way forward. Staff who have been judging the Social Worker of the Year Awards have been moved by examples of fantastic practice demonstrated.
Legislative change: Will changes to legislation and more guidance make life in the front line easier and provide service users with a better service? We hope so. We were glad to see the proposals to change the prosecution process for victims of sex offences, at last seeing a victim as a victim rather than a criminal facing repeated cross-examination. It has been good to add our points in the hope of ensuring such changes are fruitful in obtaining more convictions.
Similarly, we have supported the proposals to allow victims to ask for a review of Crown Prosecution Service decisions made about crimes.
England Professional Officer Nushra Mansuri has been working hard with members on three consultations relating to looked after children. Responses will be available on our website http://www.basw.co.uk/resource/?id=953
High-fliers: Social work education continues to be under the spotlight with the launch of another training method this month (See BASW website). Frontline was set up to attract so called “high-flying” graduates into the social work profession and mirrors TeachFirst.
Although focusing on child protection, there are moves afoot to consider a similar programme for adult social work. BASW has decided to be part of this steering group in order to influence the scheme.
Staff and members have been busy visiting existing university degree in social work courses, which is always a great pleasure as the enthusiasm and commitment of so many clearly very able people embarking in a career in social worker is infectious.
If you would like to be involved in these visits do let us know.
And it’s goodbye from Ruth: It is with sadness that we say goodbye to Ruth Cartwright, who is saying her farewells elsewhere in PSW. The team are looking forward to new beginnings and welcome our new England manager Maris Stratulis, who starts in early November.