Service users have voiced concern over the proposed codes of
conduct and practice for social staff, due to come into force in
The concerns were published in Putting the Person
First, a National Institute for Social Work paper, which
outlines service users’ views on the introduction of codes.
Their comments were drawn from those who responded to the 2000
Shaping Our Lives commission – a Department of Health initiative to
develop draft codes of conduct for practice and social care
workers. They show that users believe the current climate of
service cuts by councils, the introduction of new eligibility
criteria and increases in charges for domiciliary care, leaves no
room for improvement.
They say change will only happen if fundamental issues such as
resources are addressed.
Under the General Social Care Council and parallel councils in
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, standards of conduct and
practice will be regulated, codes of practice issued and registers
of social workers maintained.
Although the proposals were generally welcomed by respondents –
those living in residential homes, older people using domiciliary
care services, people with learning difficulties and mental health
users and survivors – users were sceptical about how they would
work in practice.
Some clients were worried about the difficulties they would face
in making complaints about services they depend on and stressed the
importance of making independent support, such as an advocacy
People in the domiciliary care group wanted an assurance that
councils would cover all social care workers, since there was very
high satisfaction with services provided directly by council staff
and very low satisfaction with agency services.
Users also felt that codes should be the same throughout the UK
and that social care staff should work with an attitude of “putting
the person first” by respecting users’ views, being supportive, not
judging people, and not making assumptions about what people
According to NISW, giving users control over their lives is key
in putting this into practice. The organisation said a common
experience was of workers taking too much control, which led to
clients being patronised.
Commenting on the proposals Don Brand, director of policy and
workforce development at NISW, said: “There’s a strong welcome for
the introduction of the council and registration of staff.
“It will be helpful if clear standards are set and laid down for
staff so that service users can expect a social care worker to
treat them with respect, dignity, listen to them and be guided by