The Welsh government has ruled out setting up a national social work college for Wales, on the basis that it would not raise the profession’s status.
The announcement came today in a 10-year-plan for social services which also included proposals to launch a national adoption agency, slash the number of safeguarding children boards, establish all-Wales eligibility for adult care and put adult safeguarding on a firmer statutory footing.
The Welsh government said that, although it wanted to boost the status of social work, it did not see a national college for Wales as a way to do this.
The announcement comes despite talks to set up colleges of social work in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, initiated by BASW – The College of Social Work.
BASW established itself as a college for England only last month, in competition with the one being developed under the social work reform programme in England.
Despite ruling out a college for now, today’s plan called for a “culture of strong professional representation for social work” and heralded changes in the role of social workers, away from assessment and care management.
“We want to see social work and the relationship with the social worker as a means of enabling people to make the changes they need in their lives,” the plan states. “We believe that the concept of ‘care management’ is outmoded – conveying a sense of control by the service, not by the citizen.”
The strategy comes on the back of proposals from the independent commission on social services, which reported in December.
As recommended by the commission, the Welsh government announced plans to establish a pan-Wales eligibility threshold for adults’ services to improve consistency, one of several initiatives to set up country-wide arrangements for social services.
This would include establishing a national adoption agency to improve adoption rates and a national framework contract for care homes and non-residential services.
The government also plans to legislate to strengthen adult protection arrangements, including duties on agencies to co-operate in investigations and strengthening the role of social services.
Other proposals include:
● Rolling out self-directed support though without the “consumerist” connotations of personalisation.
● Rolling out integrated family support teams, which support families where children are at risk because of parental mental health or substance misuse problems.
● A requirement for reablement services, commissioned regionally, to be set up to help adults regain independence after a crisis.
● Rolling out mandatory registration of managers of care services.
● Establishing a national safeguarding board for children and adults on a permanent basis, to provide leadership in this area.
● Reducing the number of local safeguarding children boards.
● Changing the nature of regulation to focus on providers, rather than individual services.
A national social services partnership forum will be launched to drive through the changes.
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