Seamless day and night service may signal end of emergency duty teams

    Emergency duty teams could soon be a thing of the past, with social
    services departments providing continuous cover throughout the day
    and night, senior managers believe.

    Liverpool social services is to follow Westminster Council’s lead
    and direct out-of-hours enquiries through a call centre with
    support from a social services manager, so doing away with its
    current EDT set-up. Meanwhile, Staffordshire Council is discussing
    with the ambulance service whether to develop a joint out-of-hours

    Robert Lake, emergency social care lead for the Association of
    Directors of Social Services, said recent debate had focused on
    whether emergency duty teams should “wither away” because of the
    increasing 24/7 culture.

    The changes in the Children Bill, which could see adults and
    children’s departments completely separated, also threatened EDTs’
    existence, he feared

    Lake said: “Where EDTs struggle is that very rarely are they locked
    into the care plan for individual service users, which can
    inadvertently lead them to make the wrong decision.”

    However, he said management needed to decide whether it was an
    emergency service or comprehensive out-of-hours social work service
    they wanted, adding that the latter would have “massive resource

    Liverpool is recruiting 64 on-call social workers to form a pool of
    professionals working on a rota basis out-of-hours. Some may be
    daytime staff, with extra payments linked to being called out.

    Terry Hawkins, delivery and improvement manager at Liverpool, said
    the new system would create better continuity between day and night
    services, with greater emphasis on preventive work. “The current
    model generates more work for daytime staff. There are more
    children accommodated during the night because it is easier than
    supporting the families.”

    He added that EDTs’ days were numbered. “We want to break down the
    notion that at 5pm another group of staff come on.”

    Ian Johnston, director of the British Association of Social
    Workers, said it was sensible to take a more preventive approach,
    but warned: “The danger is that cash-strapped authorities will see
    it as a way of making savings.”

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