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Tagged In:  Social Work, Social Worker

2016 was a busy year for Lyn Romeo, Chief Social Worker for Adults. She travelled the country raising the profile of social work and supporting its vital role in the integration landscape. We find out more about the progress made and her plans for this year in the latest issue of Sanctuary Social Work News magazine

What plans are there for health and social care integration?

Integration is being led at a local level by councils and their health partners. We are seeing the development of models that cluster social workers with GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to improve combined responses to the health and social care needs of individuals. In tandem, we’re seeing positive developments in specific service areas such as mental health, learning disabilities and palliative care.

This is all in service to the provision of a responsive, appropriate integrated approach to people’s needs as individuals, families and whole communities. Getting the values, behaviours and practice cultures right are the biggest challenges, more so than organisational arrangements and budgets, which can often take precedence. 

I visited Plymouth recently and was impressed with how values and culture underpin their integrated approach to their community. This is helping to ensure social care plays a vital role in securing the best health and wellbeing outcomes for local people.
Good relationships, trust and confidence are vitally important. Redbridge Council, for example, has a collaborative partnership where all partners recognise and value professional practice over systems and procedures. 

How are tensions being addressed in mental health services?

Through the Department of Health (DH), I have supported and published the ‘Social Work for Better Mental Health’ initiative, which sets out the contribution social work can make to mental health care and support. A number of trusts and local authorities are making use of these resources to improve their arrangements. Whilst different models are emerging, positioning good social work with a core focus on relational work and social interventions remains the priority. I am confident that the drive to improve mental health services over the next period will result in better recognition and support for social work in this very important area.

How important is co-production? 

I am heartened to see a refocus on good relational social work practice within local authorities, where it’s all about working with peoples’ strengths and assets within communities. Increasingly, social workers use what’s going well in people’s lives and look to build on these strengths first before reaching for traditional service solutions, which may not always be the best option. 

Of course, people still need the appropriate care and support to ensure they can have a good quality of life and I do not want to underplay the significant challenges that social workers are facing. However, places such as West Berkshire and Essex, where asset-based approaches are being used (including the ‘three conversations’ model), people are being supported to achieve the outcomes they want without just relying on formal services.

To read more from Lyn, including an update on plans for named social workers for those with learning difficulties, and how plans for the new social work body are taking place, check out pages 18-19 of Sanctuary Social Work News

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