High social worker morale boosting retention at ‘good’ council – Ofsted

Inspectors found Ealing council's efforts to provide manageable caseloads and good supervision were paying off, with staff 'proud' to work there

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Photo: Ellica/Fotolia

A council’s efforts to give its social workers manageable caseloads and regular supervision has helped maintain high morale, and improve recruitment and retention, Ofsted has found.

In a report published today, inspectors praised the quality of social work practice in Ealing and gave the council an overall ‘good’ rating. Its care leavers service was rated ‘outstanding’.

“Effective social work practice, which is monitored and overseen by managers, is leading to good outcomes for children. Children are seen regularly, listened to and their wishes and feelings are well recorded,” the inspection found.

Retention

It said steps to improve social work recruitment and retention had been effective. These included working with fast-track training scheme Frontline, offering ‘Step Up To Social Work’ and collaborating with other London boroughs to cap pay for agency staff.

“Many of Ealing’s agency workers have been in post for several years due to the high staff morale, manageable caseloads and the valued supervision and support from managers,” the report concluded.

Work to support newly qualified social workers was also good, with support described as “comprehensive”. New social workers also had protected caseloads and opportunities to learn from experienced colleagues.

Ofsted said the workforce’s diversity reflected the local community, and staff used their own cultural and ethnic backgrounds to build relationships with young people. Staff in Ealing were “proud” to work there, the report said.

Outstanding

Inspectors found staff remained in touch with large numbers of care leavers, many of whom lived in suitable accommodation, and said these were factors in rating the service ‘outstanding’.

“Care leavers gain independence skills, succeed and become role models, learning mentors and advocates for others. Their voice is clearly heard and incorporated into service delivery.”

In some cases social workers were not spending enough time with children, and child protection conference chairs were not able to show how they escalate concerns, Ofsted found.

It added that arrangements to investigate allegations of abuse or poor practice by professionals were not “sufficiently robust”.

Ofsted recommended the council made improvements to children’s participation in child protection conferences, and said all looked-after children should be helped to understand and make sense of their personal histories.

7 Responses to High social worker morale boosting retention at ‘good’ council – Ofsted

  1. LongtimeSW August 26, 2016 at 11:30 am #

    ‘A council’s efforts to give its social workers manageable caseloads and regular supervision has helped maintain high morale, and improve recruitment and retention, Ofsted has found.’

    So it ISN’T rocket science then????

    What a breakthrough in thinking!

    (Well done Ealing by the way)

  2. Del Toro August 26, 2016 at 12:36 pm #

    Other local authorities would be wise to follow their example. There wouldn’t be such a thing as agency staff if management treated people like adults.

  3. Debbie August 26, 2016 at 3:00 pm #

    Well done Ealing.
    How I wish other LA’s would follow suit. All they have to do is listen to what the workers themselves are saying, look at amount of agency staff employing, number is workers off with work related stress, staff turnover, hugh waiting lists….. Can go on. I really think one of issues is managers all way to top are not social workers and never done job – at least that is case in LA I work in. They believe we are robots who can meet performance indicators they set that are unrealistic and don’t realise we are human and we work with humans not robots that need time and support to make often difficult decisions that will change their lives.

  4. MB August 27, 2016 at 10:10 am #

    Proud to have worked in Ealing for 10 years. It’s really good to get this report. It’s a great place to work!

  5. Andrea August 29, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

    given above comments, am I missing something, the report states

    “Many of Ealing’s agency workers have been in post for several years due to the high staff morale, manageable caseloads and the valued supervision and support from managers,” the report concluded.
    if R&R so good why aren’t they recruiting perm staff?

    ‘good’ rating but report states

    “In some cases social workers were not spending enough time with children, and child protection conference chairs were not able to show how they escalate concerns, Ofsted found.

    It added that arrangements to investigate allegations of abuse or poor practice by professionals were not “sufficiently robust”.

  6. Nell August 31, 2016 at 9:42 pm #

    Debbie,
    I am a senior manager and I began working in childrens homes and worked all the way through the tiers of work from basic grade to Head of Service and I did’t do it quickly – I took the time to learn my trade thoroughly winning two awards along the way fro my court work and innovation in practice. I look after my staff and I work damned hard too. Please don’t be so quick to generalise. You wouldn’t like it if managers did that. We too are human. We too face daily stress. We too make difficult decisions that change lives and believe me, I am well aware that it could be my face on the front of the tabloids if things go wrong.

  7. Amanda September 1, 2016 at 11:50 am #

    It is nice to finally hear some positive remarks about ‘Social Work’ practice. I am about to begin my degree
    and have started to worry about all the negativity surrounding the profession. Finally, some hope was given to me after reading this article. There are always naysayers. Let us all be proud and focus on what people are doing well as much as the mistakes.