Debate on community matrons

We asked:- “Is the advent of the community matron
an indication of the diminishing role of the social care worker as
the boundaries between the two professions blur?

These are the comments we received.

“There does seem to be a blurring of roles with the
Community Matron taking over the social worker role and very much
deciding what will happen.  She seems to be given more respect and
authority than social worker, but much of what she is doing in the
Hospital is what social workers do and what she does in the
community is what district nurses do.

In the case of Ella Smith there is a severe danger of the
Community Matron, Senior OT and care manager breaching this woman’s
human rights with the implication that they would not allow her to
go home without the care package.  If Smith wishes to return home
without a care package, she is perfectly at liberty to do so, and
the social care worker should have been pointing this out.  There
was no indication that anyone would be working with Smith as a
social worker would to talk through with her why she needed the
care package, how it would work and to reassure her, negotiate with
her and make her more likely to accept it despite her lack of
trust.  It was a good idea for her prospective carers to visit her
on the ward.

The role of Community Matron is a useful one as the article
acknowledges in terms of sorting out some Health Service problems
around ‘communication between hospital staff, district nursing
staff and the matrons themselves,’ but it would be even better if
social care was in the loop too and the staff nurse was able to say
that communication had improved there as well!

I wish Julie Rae all good luck in her role – she is obviously a
caring person who has developed a good relationship with her
patients.  She will need luck as she will no doubt find herself
confronting some of the complex issues around individual rights,
family views and dynamics, housing issues, financial and funding
issues, etc, which will affect her work of maintaining chronically
ill people in the community, keeping them out of hospital and
effecting safe discharge when they are hospitalised, and which
social workers have been wrestling with for years.”

Best wishes,

Ruth Cartwright
Professional Officer, England
British Association of Social Workers

“It was good to read in the article (15-21 Sept) that there
appeared to be meaningful collaboration between the community
matron, social services, primary health care staff, and other
interested parties; people who were willing to share knowledge and
understanding of all aspects of the ageing process with a view to
getting the best possible service for the older person.
To me this is the truly important issue in the care of older people
in the community – not the profession or title of the person
providing the care.  In my view the various disciplines involved
have been far too precious about their areas of expertise for far
too long.
Dorothy North
Former nurse and former social work team manager in adult

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