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Tagged In:  Social Work, Social Worker

When Eileen Munro first advocated the formation of principal social workers (PSW) in 2011, she envisaged them as “champions” of social work practice within local authorities.

A couple of years on from when the PSW was first introduced, we reflect on what Chief Social Workers, Lyn Romeo and Isabelle Trowler, have to say about the future of the role following an interview for the latest edition of Sanctuary Social Work News. 

In her capacity as Chief Social Worker for Adults, Lyn Romeo says “the first immediate benefit is that by having Principal Social Workers, there’s a recognition that social care is much more outcomes based with a sharper focus on social work professional practice.”

Already, and as Lyn points out, “there’s a strong focus on the Principal Social Worker role in delivering the Care Act with the introduction of some innovative ways of working”. For example, they have been heavily involved in supporting social workers to chair best practice on capacity, and reducing restrictions in regards to Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS).
It’s a role that is very much in its infancy though; a point that the Chief Social Worker for Children and Families, Isabelle Trowler, made at interview:

“It’s a very new role and the professional network has been up and running for just two years. I think that the next step for the PSW is that it will need to at some point be evaluated so that we can have a close look at what the impact has been.”

This will ultimately be a complex piece of work given there’s no one model detailing the exact function of a PSW. In part, this has been because there is no requirement for local authorities to have one, although most have implemented the role in some capacity. 

There will almost certainly be a review, as Isabelle says “within the next two years we will want to review which models are the most effective for improving practice. To do this we have to remember the original purpose of introducing the role; bringing the most effective practice into senior decision makers, keeping them focused on the realities of frontline practice.”

Much of the evaluation will likely focus on how the roles have enabled policies and practice to be enhanced through what Lyn Romeo describes as “the recognition of social work values”.

In fact, the recognition of social work values, underpins much of the work that Lyn and Isabelle are involved in. To read more about their aims for the future of the profession, take a look at the Apr-Jun 16 edition of Sanctuary Social Work News

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