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Tagged In:  Social Work, Social Worker

With the Chief Social Worker for Adults, Lyn Romeo, committed to achieving “recognition for the role and contribution social workers make to an integrated care system”, we thought we would take a look at the progress made in this area and the challenges that remain.

 


As Lyn points out in an interview in the latest edition of Sanctuary Social Work News “there’s been a lot of progress, but integrating health and social care remains a huge challenge, as there’s a much bigger agenda for health services integration”. 

Lyn spoke to us about ensuring that the profession shifts towards what she calls a “biopsychosocial model of mental health”, which recognises that mental health is determined by a dynamic interaction between biological, psychological, and social factors. She warns that if the profession fails to do this, there will be “real lost opportunities to make a significant difference to improved outcomes for people and their families”. 

There’s a great deal of progress being made though and the examples cited in the Annual Report by the Chief Social Worker for Adults 2015/16, offer some real promise. 

In Bradford, for example, social work professionals work within the community on a cisis basis as part of an NHS integrated mental health service. Likewise, Merseyside Trust has developed an innovative development plan that places service users at the heart of mental health services. And on an even bigger scale, Bury in Greater Manchester, is working on a model that puts social care at the heart of a horizontal integration of “out of hospital” rather than vertical integration seen in acute trusts.  They are now working on a holistic approach of working with the individual, families and communities and working closely alongside NHS services, GPs, police, fire and probation services. 

There’s also a move towards more of an integrated approach with regards to children’s services too. We’ve firsthand experience of recruiting social work and multidisciplinary professionals into one of the largest Innovation Programmes at Hertfordshire County Council. This involved bringing together several specialists and social workers under one roof to offer a fully integrated approach to working with vulnerable children and their families. 

Of course, there are many challenges ahead though. Lyn remarks in her interview that “there are some tensions within some of the older mental health trust models” and that there is still some way to go in addressing those tensions. 

BASW’s new Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ruth Allen sums the situation up though, by saying “we must learn about what has worked in preserving effective social work, what has brought partnerships together or to an end, and keep service users experiences central.”

To read more about future plans for integrating social care and health services, have a read of our roundtable discussion in the latest edition of Sanctuary Social Work News

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