Government sets out ‘essential’ role of social work in integrated services

Emphasising people's strengths, coordinating care around the person and challenging other professionals key aspects of social work role

Photo: John Birdsall/Rex/Shutterstock

Social workers have an “essential” role to play in integrated services in upholding people’s rights, coordinating support and challenging other professionals, but need support from senior management to make this a reality.

That was the message from an advice note issued yesterday by the Department of Health, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and the Adults Principal Social Workers Network.

The paper emphasised the importance of the social model of disability sitting alongside the medical model in integrated health and social care services and that social workers were essential to making this happen.

Social work’s contribution

It said that social work brought the following skills to integrated teams:

  • strengths-based practice that focuses on what individuals can do and mobilies community resources to support and protect them;
  • the ability to coordinate support around the person and remove bureaucratic barriers to people receiving the support they want;
  • a risk enabling, rather than a risk averse approach, that supports people to make their own decisions;
  • knowledge of legal frameworks, including the Mental Capacity Act and Mental Health Act, and how to apply them in individual situations;
  • constructive challenge to other professionals in relation to upholding people’s rights;

The note was drawn up on the back of an event last year for directors of adult social services and PSWs, held by chief social worker for adults Lyn Romeo. It is chiefly targeted at directors and PSWs to help them realise the contribution of social workers to making integrated health and social care services work.

Tips for managers

The paper set out a number of tips for senior managers in realising social workers’ contribution to integration. These included:

  • that the social work contribution to the integrated service must be clear and communicated to staff at all levels;
  • that practitioners receive professional leadership and social work supervision.
  • senior support for social work within the service, including the presence of senior managers with a social work background.
  • communicating good news stories about social work’s contribution around the service.
  • performance monitoring based on personal outcomes for people rather than quantitative data, which is more likely to highlight the social work contribution.

In a blog to launch the paper, Romeo said she hoped the note would inform local and regional integrated initiatives.

Learn more about social work’s contribution

You can learn more about social work’s contribution to integration at the forthcoming Community Care Live Manchester, in a session led by Adult PSW Network chairs Mark Harvey and Rob Mitchell. Check out the full programme and register now for your free place.


7 Responses to Government sets out ‘essential’ role of social work in integrated services

  1. Zoe Williams March 15, 2017 at 1:14 pm #

    If we are so essential, why are we so disrespected, ignored, underpaid and ignored? Why are we held to blame for every mistake, somehow responsible for every service, verbally abused some days and physically abused others because we knocked on a door with a smile and a mobile phone and asked if we could help?

    Why are the government forcing locum social workers to pay PAYE, saying they are employees, even though their contracts are usually only 3 months with no employee benefits whatsoever and often find it difficult to integrate with the teams due to resentment and misunderstandings.

    Do not insult us by saying we are essential because we are leaving in droves due to this Governments restrictive legislation which prevents us from providing the services that are needed; I did not vote to live in a dictatorship.

  2. chris cheatle March 15, 2017 at 3:25 pm #

    A very poor account of Social Work as an energising, creative, client centred, personal growth and development focussed profession. The ADSS should hang their heads in shame having capitulated to the DoH and settled for little more than an administrative role.

  3. A Man Called Horse March 15, 2017 at 5:21 pm #

    Lyn Romeo a Government poodle. Sick of her and sick of being told my job is to do whatever the Government wants me to do. Glad I’m leaving the job soon, Social Work is pointless in the current climate. Am I expected to believe that the Government cares about vulnerable people. Dow with the Tories

  4. Blair McPherson March 16, 2017 at 11:43 am #

    I am assuming that up holding rights includes human rights and the appropriate challenge to other professionals includes includes challenging Raceism, sexism, ageism, homophobia Islamophobia and attitudes to disability in service delivery. The words dignity and indepedance don’t appear but I assume they are covered by being ” risk enabling”. I note community social work is not recognised as the focus is on the individual even though we as social workers recognise that the difficulties those we seek to help face often arise out of social inequality, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, discrimination, and inadequate housing.

  5. Ruth Cartwright March 16, 2017 at 4:32 pm #

    I wish I could believe these august bodies mean what they say, but I am struggling to do so. Integrated working in many mental health settings (not all) has seen social workers becoming Community Psychiatric Nurses who can’t prescribe and certainly not being treated as bringing anything of value to the table. In many hospitals (again not all), social workers are regarded as people who prevent speedy discharge by insisting on finding out about the patients and their circumstances and wishes and treating them as human beings. This has been fostered by our superiors who have betrayed social work values and given in to Health and their particular model at every juncture – it’s not integration; it’s takeover. There’s about 20 years of this attitude and culture to eradicate and I’m not sure a paper is going to cut it.

  6. Hannah March 16, 2017 at 5:42 pm #

    The above comments say it all. Treat us as essential if you think we are. It is simple.

  7. Social Worker March 20, 2017 at 3:37 pm #

    The minute social work stops feeling like a privilege then give it up. Walk away. No guns to the head of any social worker making them do the job. In 20 years I’ve never heard any social workers beg the social workers who are desperate to leave to stay on and fight some more! It’s about the social work, not the social workers.
    Social work is vital in integrated services. We need strong adult social workers more than ever before. If that’s not you, if you’re too worried about PAYE or the Tories or anything else then that’s fine. Move on and leave the social work to all of those who want to do the job. You won’t be missed.

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