Social workers outline Care Act learning and development needs

We pull out some key points from Skills for Care’s consultation on their Care Act learning and development programme

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A consultation on a learning and development programme has highlighted social workers as one of two groups “especially likely” to require training on implementing the changes required by the Care Act.

The programme, which has been developed by Skills for Care in partnership with The College of Social Work, will offer a series of free materials to help the adult social care workforce deliver key parts of the Act. The materials will be available at the end of October, following the publication of the regulations and guidance for the Care Act.

The consultation identified Care Act “headline areas” for learning and development and the “detailed areas” that fall within these categories. It comprised an online survey, which received 707 responses, and a series of focus groups featuring 400 participants.

A total of 80 social workers responded to the consultation and 55 said they would need training to implement the demands of the Act. Here’s an outline of the key areas where social workers, or professionals with responsibility for the workforce development of social workers, felt they would most need support:

1. General responsibilities for local authorities 

Under the Act, local authorities will take on a number of new functions to ensure a person receives information on the care and support available to them, is supported to prevent their needs from deteriorating and have a good quality range of care providers to choose from. Of the social workers polled, 75% said they would need support in this area.

In particular, 85% said they would need advanced training on preventing a person’s need for care and support. This provision seeks to ensure that practitioners promote wellbeing and independence, and do not just respond to a service user at the point of crisis.

2. Journey through the care and support system

More than 80% of social workers said they would need training on ‘charging and assessing financial resources’ and ‘deferred payment agreements’. These provisions fall under the charging and financial assessment section of the Act, which sets out a single legal framework for charging for care and support. This will enable a local authority to decide whether or not they charge a person who is in receipt of their services.

3. Transition to adult care and support 

The consultation found that ‘assessing a child’s carer’s needs’ was the area of this provision on which social workers felt they would most need support. The Act states that local authorities “must assess the needs of a child’s carer where there is a likely need for support after the child turns 18”.

Local authorities must effectively manage the transition of a young person from children’s services to adults and should also attempt to identify young people who are not currently receiving children’s services support, but may have care and support needs as an adult.

4. Safeguarding 

77% of social workers said they needed learning and development on safeguarding. Within this ‘headline area’, carrying out a safeguarding adults review, carrying out enquiries and information sharing all rated highly as areas where additional training was required.

These provisions require a local authority to make enquiries if it believes an adult is at risk and establish whether any action needs to be taken, arrange a safeguarding review when an adult dies as a result of abuse or neglect and set out the instances in which information must be shared if, for example, it has been requested by a safeguarding adults board.

Level of skills needed

Participants were also asked to indicate what level of learning and development they would need to implement the new legislation, by selecting one of four ratings: basic, advanced, intermediate or specialist.

The consultation found that social workers were “slightly more likely” to say that they needed training at an advanced level, but this was only in relation to the Act provisions for ‘promoting the diversity and quality of services’ and ‘carrying out enquiries.’

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