The Department of Health will seek views on whether a version of the accreditation system planned for children’s social workers could be applied in adult social work.
In her annual report, Lyn Romeo, the chief social worker for adults, said she would be consulting on a knowledge and skills statement for a new ‘practice supervisor’ status in adults’ services within months.
The consultation will seek views on how the status should be assessed, and “will take into account” whether the Department for Education’s accreditation system “could be applied to social work with adults”, Romeo’s report said.
Romeo told Community Care the consultation was an opportunity to see whether the sector felt an external system of assessment was needed to underpin the new status, or whether existing approaches, such as the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment, could be built on instead.
“We need to look, learn, listen and hear what might be the right approach before we do anything on that just yet. The first step is getting recognition for the role, and the knowledge and skills needed,” she said.
Good supervision essential
Romeo said the importance of good supervision and practice leadership in social work was “more compelling than ever”. She said it was “essential” for social workers to have access to strong social work supervision, particularly if they were working in integrated teams where they may be line managed by non-social workers.
“You need that chance for reflective practice whether it’s through good challenging discussions with a one-to-one supervisor, peer supervision sessions, or learning from observation and reflection. Where people have put that in place I think it’s making a significant difference to how valued their social workers feel.
“So we need a way in time of recognising the importance of the supervisory role. I don’t want to pre-empt anything. I really want the sector to think about and reflect on what the best way forward might be.”
In her report, Romeo pledged to take action to address a shortage of social workers trained as Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHP). She said the reduction in AMHP numbers “necessitates further action” by the Department of Health and it would be working with the sector to develop an AMHP workforce recruitment and retention strategy.
Romeo told Community Care she felt the past year had seen a significant “strengthening” of the role of social workers in adult services.
“I think there has been a strengthening and respositioning of social work within adult social care. The work that the Adult Principal Social Workers Network has done has been fantastic. They really have been practice leaders in demonstrating the rights, social justice and co-production approach to social work. I think that’s the area where we’ve made a lot of progress.”