Applause for Glasgow effort to beef up front-line support

Glasgow Council’s radical restructure of its social work area
teams nearly a year ago is a success with staff.
Since a review of the department last year, more than 100 qualified
social workers have been recruited in nine months and vacancy rates
in the children and families department have dropped from 43 per
cent to zero. Critically, 112 new para-professionals, also called
social care workers, were appointed, allowing qualified social
workers to do more front-line case management.

The role of senior social worker was scrapped and a new grade of
practice team leader, with a higher salary and personalised case
management, was introduced.

Team leader Lucy Morton said the new model was better for career
development even though it was still in the transition period.

“I’m still doing some work that would have been part of my job
as a senior, although I think we’re halfway there and I’m enjoying
carrying a case load again,” she said. “Seniors were always
hands-on, very much involved in decision-making, court appearances
and so on and I was getting used to that role.

“Having my own separate case load again is very satisfying as I
always valued contact with clients.”

Because of the recruitment crisis a solution was needed quickly,
leading to concerns that the changes were rushed. Employees not
involved directly in fieldwork were excluded in the first stage and
a delay in re-grading administrative staff was poorly received.

David Comley, Glasgow social work director, is unrepentant about
the need to act quickly. He said: “I accept that some staff felt
there was not enough consultation but our service was in crisis and
a great deal of planning for the new structure was based on a Mori
staff survey carried out the previous year. This had a high
response rate and gave a clear indication of how employees felt
about a range of issues.

“Initial concerns among some staff were addressed last year and
most issues have now been resolved. In addition, our fast-track
training for para-professionals is producing new social workers for
all of Scotland, not just Glasgow.”

As a result of the review, a further 496 staff have been
re-graded and given improved conditions. Glasgow social work
department allocates work for more than 7,000 staff, making it the
UK’s joint-largest social care provider.


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