Social services staff must be encouraged to be proud and
positive about what they do instead of timid, defensive and viewing
all change as a threat.
That was the message to the Association of Directors of Social
Work conference in Dunblane today from Denise Platt,
England’s chief inspector of social services.
She told delegates that if social services did not have a
pivotal role in the new agenda the government would not be
bothering to set up new structures such as the Care Standards
Commission or the General Social Care Council.
“If social work didn’t count we’d abolish the lot
and say nurses or somebody else could do it,” she declared.
Platt said that when people asked her whether all the current
changes spelt “the end of social work as we know it” her response
was “I hope it is. Let’s move away from the check-list
Speaking on the subject of quality, she said that the Social
Services Inspectorate had started supplementing its normal visits
by postal surveys which had proved highly informative.
For instance one client used the form to raise concerns about
the home care service they received. They worote that so many
different staff were coming in and out that “my house doesn’t
feel like my home. It feels like somebody else’s workplace.
Nobody introduces themselves, I don’t know who they are but
they are lifting me on and off the commode.” Platt said such
behaviour by staff amounted to abuse and she added: “This sort of
comment illustrates how much really needs to be done to put users
She added that it was also important to make services more
flexible and she cited an example in Southampton where the health
service, in partnership with social services, was providing health
information to looked after children at a leisure complex.
“Why has it taken us so long to wake up to the idea we should go
where young people want to go rather than where we want to put
It was time social care staff started to think differently about
the service they provided.
“Social work is not about dictating how people should live their
lives and we may have done a bit too much of that in the past
… we need to liberate people to achieve their ambition where
often we in the care services have limited them.”
Platt said the huge changes currently going through required
confident staff supported by confident organisations.
Meanwhile the message coming back from social work staff was
that their main job satisfaction came from making a difference to
people’s lives and Platt said new organisations such as the
Social Care Institute for Excellence was aimed at helping them do
“It’s up to you to grab the opportunities that are out
there and seize the day.”