Much still to prove

The appointment of Bill Kilgallon as chief executive marks the
first anniversary of the Social Care Institute for Excellence. It
has a long way to go before it is seen to fulfil its brief to
establish a social care knowledge base and ensure that it is
disseminated for the benefit of all. In fact, there is still no
general agreement on how much of what social care professionals do
can be codified in terms of “what works”. But Scie has made an
honourable beginning on the immense tasks that confront it, not
least with the series of five “listening exercise” meetings in
which users, carers and practitioners were invited to contribute
their views.

As Scie’s first chief executive, Ray Jones’s sudden departure after
a disagreement about his pension arrangements has not exactly given
the organisation the best start in life. It has an extremely
capable chairperson in Jane Campbell, who also brings her
experience as a service user to the job, but as it celebrates its
first birthday Scie gives a rather listless impression, lacking the
clout to make any real impact on social care. The need for it to
make an impact is urgent. Social care has been identified according
to the agencies that provide it -Êunlike any properly
independent profession – and by its values, which are neither
understood nor shared by the public. As structures change, social
care professionals must develop an independent identity and find
evidence for their values and the practices those values support.
Scie will be the guardian of social care’s professional identity
and its claim to a distinctive body of knowledge based firmly on
the evidence. The General Social Care Council has provided a
framework for the profession. It is up to Scie to provide the
content and in such a way that the public can have confidence in
social care’s professional status.

Kilgallon says that gathering the views of service users will be
among his priorities. He should begin by examining transcripts from
the listening exercises, where the uneasy transition from
children’s to adults’ services and from disabled adult to older
people’s services were high on a long list of preoccupations. These
are difficult problems and Scie still has to prove that it can
offer solutions that do more than state the obvious. Users, carers
and practitioners hope that it can, and now is its chance to
convince them.

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