Arrows painted on the road

Reforming the quality of children’s social work practice and leadership

It’s critical we begin extending and accelerating reforms to the quality of children’s social work practice and leadership. The need to ‘upskill’ the social work profession and the work we do with partners is paramount.

Moreover, the terms of reference for the proposed Task Group outlined in my previous blog resonates with today’s challenges that we face, while  Barclay’s comments from 1982 still also ring true:

“Too much is generally expected of social workers. We load upon them unrealistic expectations and we then complain when they do not live up to them….

“There is confusion about the direction in which they are going and unease about what they should be doing and the way in which they are organised and deployed. When things go wrong the media have tended to blame them because it is assumed that their job is to care for people so as to prevent trouble arising. They operate uneasily on the frontier between what appears to be almost limitless needs on the one hand and an inadequate pool of resources to satisfy those needs on the other.”(Barclay 1982 p.vii)

Continuous service improvement

As a social care manager I have always believed that audit and scrutiny are integral to the delivery of continuous service improvement and relevant to all aspects of social care.

The way audits are planned, conducted and reported also will need to change  and in my view should move to the term ‘assessor’, rather than auditor.

Education, assessment and appropriate decision making remains crucial to creating a culture of compliance.

Leading the way forward

I am passionate about leading the way forward for social care and to deliver continuous service improvement and quality assessment of systems and processes that often let us down and do not enhance the work we need to do.

For this reason I recently joined forces with Nib Consulting to establish Shared Vision as a partnership to support local authorities in their journey to improvement and quality while creating a learning environment through the application of ISO 9001 international standards.

Social work’s capacity for adaptability and responsiveness should be seen as a powerful strength. We are constantly learning from our service users and from each other – especially in multi-agency environments. We feed this knowledge into our governance, risk and compliance solutions on a daily basis.

In contrast to many other professional groups, social work has always sought to adapt to the social and individual needs of a rapidly changing demographic, economic and social structure.

We can and should continue to do so.

Involve us, don’t tell us.