Wirral Council plans to cut 29 qualified social worker posts while expanding non-qualified numbers to implement personalisation reforms in adult care.
In the first reported instance of personalisation leading to social work job cuts, the council says the proposals will ensure that “qualified social workers are deployed more effectively”, supporting people with more complex needs.
Assessment and care management work for people for lower-level needs would be transferred to non-qualified staff, the council’s reablement service and users themselves through self-assessments.
The changes would affect the council’s access and assessment branch, which handles care management at the North West council. According to figures seen by Community Care, Wirral employs 174 qualified and non-qualified frontline staff and 45 managers.
Reforms in next year
In reforms, due to be implemented over the next 12 months, the council will lay out key skills and competences for qualified and non-qualified staff geared towards a more personalised care system. These will include helping service users navigate the care system and plan support, and carrying out outcome-based reviews of care packages.
One social worker said there was a “high amount of concern” among practitioners. “Initially, people were shocked and concerned about their personal jobs and they then started to think about the future of social work with adults.
“If we can be marginalised to this extent we have to wonder whether other councils will follow suit.”
The practitioner added: “Our view is that the majority of the work we do is complex. It couldn’t be done by someone without a social work qualification to the same standard.”
The reablement service – which supports people entering the care system to regain independence through intensive home care and occupational therapy – will expand from 90 to 150 staff, to take on a more significant role.