Social workers lack access to reliable data to inform decisions

One in 10 social workers said they rarely had adequate resources and support to make properly informed decisions, while 71% said this was “sometimes” the case, according to our own exclusive survey.

Community Care magazine, the Department of Health website, and were the most commonly used resources, with 89% of respondents rating Community Care magazine as important.

However, the need for quick decision-making under pressure appeared to explain the limited use of information resources to inform practice. For advice on practical decision-making, most practitioners (88%) asked their colleagues, with supervisors a close second (87%), compared with just 47% who consulted internal policy and procedures and 29% journals and other publications. Departmental libraries were the least popular source.

Amanda Edwards, deputy chief executive at the Social Care Institute for Excellence, said: “Managers and individuals have a responsibility to make time for professional development; it is an essential, not a luxury. It’s essential that they keep up to date with the best available knowledge.”

Google was the most popular source for facts and figures, prompting Edwards to warn against professionals “just saying ‘fingers crossed’ and using Google because of stress”.

However, Adass’s John Naw-rockyi, adult services director at Greenwich Council, said social workers used Google to research clients’ medical conditions.

More on the research

Full coverage of the research

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