New vision offers transformation of social work by 2020

A new grand vision for social care in the year 2020, under which
social work as we recognise it will cease to exist, is to be
unveiled at the national social services conference in Cardiff next
week, writes Janet Snell.

The blueprint foresees a transformation in the roles of those
working in social care with a major realignment of professional

This will ultimately include the creation of new professions,
for example one combining youth and community work, social work,
adolescent mental health and careers services, for young people
with another encompassing elements of nursing, occupational
therapy, social work and home support for older clients.

The vision document has been produced by left-of-centre think
tank the Institute for Public Policy Research, commissioned by the
Association of Directors of Social Services and Community

It calls for a universal social care service with a more
preventive and community-based focus, arguing that the continued
existence of separate professions working closely with the same
service groups presents a “major barrier” to delivering more
user-led services.

The training of the social care workforce of the future will
have to change, says the report, with the current emphasis on
generic skills and practice being replaced by a more specialised
focus around age related groups.

Staff shortages will compound this trend, also leading to an
increasing proportion of vocationally qualified workers and fewer
professionally qualified staff.

It adds: “We may see the emergence of social care administrators
who assess needs and co-ordinate services for the majority of
users, referring those with more complex needs on to a smaller
number of highly specialised practitioners.”

On the issue of care trusts, the report warns that in the
absence of real evidence of their effectiveness, and because of the
threat they pose to delivering holistic services, they should not
be rolled out across the country.

Other ideas floated in the report include an argument for making
local government responsible for commissioning health and social
care services, reorganising primary care trusts into smaller
provider trusts operating on contracts with the local authority.
The organisation also reiterates its call for the creation of a
separate agency focusing solely on child protection.

The report authors concede that some in the field may view their
new agenda as “threatening”, but they argue change is crucial to
ensure social care as a profession is seen by government and others
as part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

‘From Welfare to Wellbeing: The Future of Social Care’ is
available from 0845 4589911.

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