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It’s a big question, and one that will no doubt be on the minds of many social work practitioners, but what does the future hold for social care?




In our latest edition of Sanctuary Social Work News, we catch up with England’s Chief Social Workers, Isabelle Trowler and Lyn Romeo, in a roundtable discussion with BASW’s new Chief Executive, Dr Ruth Allen. 

Here’s what they said when we asked them what the biggest changes to the profession were during 2015:

Ruth: In social work practice, the adult’s agenda was dominated by the implementation of the Care Act from April 2015. The Law Commission's review of MCA DoLS and the new Mental Health Act Code of Practice are amongst other key policy changes. It feels as if the adults and mental health social work is aligned with national policy through a focus on empowerment, co-production and human rights with the MCA at the heart. The government's reform agenda in children's services and education has been more radical, controversial and fast moving. There isn’t consensus across the children’s social care sector about the direction of travel, which in places, risks being driven too much by early adoption and lack of attention to whole family needs.

Lyn: The biggest change in adult social care has been implementing the Care Act. At the heart of the Act, there’s a refocus on the principal of wellbeing, with people being co-producers of their care and support. There’s a greater emphasis on direct social work practice with carers, ensuring they are on the same footing and getting the same recognition. From my perspective, 2015 also saw a much sharper focus on social work practice as a model of working with people. 

Isabelle: We saw the launch of the government’s Innovation Programme; a £100m investment into children’s social care services. With 52 projects across the country funded by the programme, there’s a real focus on creativity and doing things differently. It’s a huge opportunity for people involved in working with children and families to rethink how they are delivering services.

Lyn: Generally, we also saw a lot of progress in improving the social work education offering, with the introduction of four new social work partnerships and the Assessed Supported Year in Employment (ASYE). In addition, we’re still working towards a stronger grounding in outcomes focused practice.

Isabelle: One of the most significant changes was the introduction of the new national assessment and accreditation system for child and family social work, and the new set of standards for senior social workers and leaders. This is very much about trying to move the profession beyond initial qualification to focus on the whole career. If we want to remain practice focused, we need to have a career pathway which aligns itself to that. Since developing the new system, we’ve been working with 900 social workers to see whether it’s a valid way of assessing knowledge and skill. 

Ruth: Across the profession, the closure of The College of Social Work was a huge change. Those of us involved in that and other aspects of social work leadership have regrouped to set the foundations for effective national leadership and policy visibility for the future, which we expect to come to fruition in 2016.

To read what Isabelle, Lyn and Ruth consider the key priorities and challenges are for 2016, see pages 6-9 in our Apr-Jun 16 edition of Sanctuary Social Work News

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