The single shared assessment process (SAP) is being undermined by
the shortage of social workers, new research suggests.
A Royal College of Nursing report says that joint working
arrangements on the SAP in Scotland are not working effectively
because community nurses feel the process is being “manipulated by
management” in order to redirect their work towards social care
responsibilities to bridge recruitment problems.
The protected caseloads of social workers, poor support to
front-line staff and an increase in bureaucracy are all problems,
the research says.
Such issues are UK-wide and could also cause problems in parts of
England, where the recruitment crisis is most severe.
The report says that community nurses working in joint health and
social care teams are particularly uncomfortable carrying out the
financial aspect of the assessments, feeling that this is not their
role and that it puts a “different slant” on the nurse/patient
The nurses also raise concerns about having to take on a “care
manager” role in applying means-tested restrictions to services, a
duty they argue is associated with “bureaucratic social work
procedures”. Many feel this is “a bridge too far”.
James Kennedy, RCN Scotland secretary, said the report was a
criticism of management and politicians rather than front-line
He called for increased investment in individual and team
development, a review of the assessment tools used on the teams and
the establishment of a Scottish staff forum to provide advice and
support to front-line staff.
Ruth Stark, professional officer for the British Association of
Social Workers Scotland, said the report failed to adequately look
at how problems within nursing, such as recruitment, contributed to
the situation. Too much bureaucracy was a problem for “both
professions not just one”, she added.
Dwayne Johnson, spokesperson on the SAP for the Association of
Directors of Social Services, said that at many councils in England
welfare rights officers conducted means-tested elements of
assessments to free up other professionals’ time.
The report documents the experiences of 12 community nurses
practising in recently formed health and social care teams, and the
views of 16 RCN activists on joint working.
– Report at www.rcn.org.uk/scotland