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Anyone and everyone who works in social services is very aware that their role isn’t likely to consist of strict 9 to 5 working hours but, when staff are contracted to do those hours how are ‘out of hours’ needs facilitated?

In January 2014, Sanctuary Social Care created an Out of Hours department to facilitate the shortfall across the social services network of providing out of hours staff. Heading up the Out of Hours team is Senior Recruitment Manager, Neil Clements, who explains what they do: “When the 9 to 5 teams finish for the day, the emergency duty team take over and handle calls and visits through the night until the day shift starts again the next day, at which time they will hand over to the day team any relevant information relating to patients and incidents.”

“Out of hours work can mean staff work from home, taking emergency calls and dealing with emails. In many cases, they will also be coordinating with other emergency services including the police, hospitals and carers.”

“In our experience, it’s not unusual for social workers working traditional hours to supplement their income with additional out of hours work too, as well as those looking for flexible working hours, who may prefer to work the out of hours shifts.”

“We have no shortage of social workers on our books,” said Neil, “but Approved Mental Health Practitioners (AMHP) are in short supply, and there is high demand for AMHPs for out of hours work. This shortfall appears to have come about as social care duties have evolved and responsibilities have been split across different departments. This means, as the out of hours social workers, who are qualified to carry out this type of work retire, and new recruits specialise in either adult of children care services, they don’t all have the additional qualification to provide the mental health services too.”

“We are seeing this trend across all councils, across the country, and have an expanding need for AMHPs to fill this integral part of the social care services network.”

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