Social workers in Northern Ireland will benefit from better access to supervision and more flexible working arrangements under new national guidelines launched today.
Northern Ireland’s first ever strategy for social work proposes to strengthen the capacity of the country’s 5,000-strong workforce, improve services and build leadership within the profession over the next 10 years.
Key recommendations include:
- Focusing on prevention and early intervention, as well as protection and safeguarding.
- Developing a regional out-of-hours social work service.
- Introducing flexible working arrangements by extending opening hours and exploring better use of technology.
- Creating new standards for social work employers and promoting access to professional supervision.
- Developing a workload weighting system for social work in adult services, building on experience in children’s services.
- Helping social workers to effectively represent the profession in the media.
The strategy will not receive any additional funding, according to the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. Instead resources already committed to social work will be “reconfigured and rediverted” to support its implementation.
“Social work in Northern Ireland leads the way in the UK in many areas,” said health minister Edwin Poots. “This strategy is a further sign of our commitment to the profession and our absolute determination to continue to improve social work services.”
Northern Ireland was the first devolved administration to introduce an assessed year in employment for newly qualified social workers and establish a principal social work practitioner grade.
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