A contract for caring

The General Social Care Council, which has issued its codes of
practice for social care workers this week, is one reason to
believe in the government’s respect for and commitment to social
care professionals.

As structures change before our eyes, with morale on the front line
of statutory services at an all-time low, it is easy to mistake the
government’s utter lack of sentimentality about structures for a
lack of understanding of the importance of social care

In fact, the government recognised early that social care needs a
professional identity in the public consciousness. As a profession
which is, more than any other, defined as much by what it stands
for as what it does, it is vulnerable because outsiders have little
sense of its values or what to expect from it. The codes of
practice are a clear contract with the public.

In a time when the agencies which once defined social care are
changing beyond recognition, that contract is needed more than

With the Social Care Institute for Excellence and the national
training body Topss, the GSCC provides a framework which will
outlive the tragedies and ideologically driven structures which
have previously steered the destiny of social care, much to its

Believe it or not, it will even outlive New Labour in government.
And so will social care.

There is still a battle to be fought, however. With this
government, laudable long-term plans can be undermined by
short-term populism and reactive policy-making. It is still
unclear, for example, what has happened to the government’s faith
in social care values when it comes to merging services with the
NHS, or how social work will fare when child protection is

The profession must anchor itself firmly in the new framework. It
will still be tossed on the waves, but there is no need to abandon

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