A fast-track qualification that is being developed for adults’ social work looks set to focus on mental health services, Community Care understands.
Details of the proposed scheme will be published by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) in April. Last Autumn, the Department of Health commissioned IPPR to scope out options for an adult social work initiative along the lines of the Frontline fast-track scheme for children’s social work. Frontline, which launches this year, offers trainees five weeks of classroom training followed by a year’s placement in a child protection team, after which they would qualify as a social worker.
The IPPR’s initial scoping exercise identified two potential adult social work fast-track options: a scheme to get social work trainees into multidisciplinary mental health teams, or a more generic adult social work qualification. The latter would have seen social workers trained to take on a role comparable to that of GPs in the NHS, according to Professor David Croisdale-Appleby’s review of social work education.
Jonathan Clifton, senior research fellow at IPPR, told Community Care that subsequent research found more backing for a mental health focused-initiative.
“From our field visits it felt like there was a lot more appetite from employers for a more work-based route into mental health for social workers so that they are familiar with working in integrated teams,” he said.
“We did also scope out the potential for a scheme around the ‘social work GP’ model, as it is described in the review. However, we found that there wasn’t enough existing infrastructure around that role yet to structure a programme around it. Some places are innovating and trying it out locally but we thought it best to wait and see the impact of those local trials to establish whether that approach works.”
Croisdale-Appleby’s review of social work education highlighted a shortage of mental health social workers. It also raised concerns that a focus on child protection had detracted from the “important contribution” of adults’ social work.
“The recent scoping exercise which looked at the creation of a fast-track programme for social workers who work primarily in adult settings, particularly mental health, could represent a very welcome rebalancing of this focus if it leads to implementation,” the review said.
The chief social worker for adults, Lyn Romeo, has previously said that boosting social work’s role in mental health is one of her top priorities.