‘Inspiring’ strategy in Scotland aims to support social workers

A forum of academics, politicians and sector representatives was set up to plan Scotland's social services developments for the next five years

scottish parliament
Scottish Parliament. Photo: Ronnie Macdonald

The Scottish government should undertake workforce surveys to understand the key issues for social workers and how they could be supported in areas such as high caseloads or complex policy developments, an influential strategy group has recommended.

Children’s minister Fiona McLeod brought together academics, professional bodies and government representatives to form the Social Work Services Strategic Forum, which collaborated to set out a strategy for social services over the next five years.

Several areas for action were recommended, including supporting the workforce and promoting public understanding of the profession.

Supporting the workforce could include reviewing the codes of practice for social workers and their employers, and influencing commissioners and providers to ensure their workers’ pay and conditions are protected.

The strategy also recommended government should consider commissioning work to understand the recruitment and retention challenges facing social work.

The Forum stated their vision was for: “a socially just Scotland with excellent social services delivered by a skilled and valued workforce which works with others to empower, support and protect people, with a focus on prevention, early intervention and enablement.”

Professor of Social Work at the Open University Brigid Featherstone tweeted that this was “inspiring stuff”.

Speaking later to Community Care, she said: “We could learn an awful lot from our neighbours in Scotland.

“It seems to be putting social justice at the heart of the vision, in contrast to what’s happening in England.

“[The strategy] was done by an inclusive process and seems to me a vision in which I would like to be involved.”

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