Applause for Glasgow effort to beef up front-line support

    Glasgow Council’s radical restructure of its social work area
    teams nearly a year ago is a success with staff.
    Since a review of the department last year, more than 100 qualified
    social workers have been recruited in nine months and vacancy rates
    in the children and families department have dropped from 43 per
    cent to zero. Critically, 112 new para-professionals, also called
    social care workers, were appointed, allowing qualified social
    workers to do more front-line case management.

    The role of senior social worker was scrapped and a new grade of
    practice team leader, with a higher salary and personalised case
    management, was introduced.

    Team leader Lucy Morton said the new model was better for career
    development even though it was still in the transition period.

    “I’m still doing some work that would have been part of my job
    as a senior, although I think we’re halfway there and I’m enjoying
    carrying a case load again,” she said. “Seniors were always
    hands-on, very much involved in decision-making, court appearances
    and so on and I was getting used to that role.

    “Having my own separate case load again is very satisfying as I
    always valued contact with clients.”

    Because of the recruitment crisis a solution was needed quickly,
    leading to concerns that the changes were rushed. Employees not
    involved directly in fieldwork were excluded in the first stage and
    a delay in re-grading administrative staff was poorly received.

    David Comley, Glasgow social work director, is unrepentant about
    the need to act quickly. He said: “I accept that some staff felt
    there was not enough consultation but our service was in crisis and
    a great deal of planning for the new structure was based on a Mori
    staff survey carried out the previous year. This had a high
    response rate and gave a clear indication of how employees felt
    about a range of issues.

    “Initial concerns among some staff were addressed last year and
    most issues have now been resolved. In addition, our fast-track
    training for para-professionals is producing new social workers for
    all of Scotland, not just Glasgow.”

    As a result of the review, a further 496 staff have been
    re-graded and given improved conditions. Glasgow social work
    department allocates work for more than 7,000 staff, making it the
    UK’s joint-largest social care provider.


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