Staff must stay close to clients

    As social services departments transform into mixes of
    children’s trusts with education, care trusts with health, and
    other integrated arrangements such as Sure Start and Children’s
    Fund programmes, who is going to champion social care?

    No longer will there be social services departments within local
    government, while in central government social care has already
    lost its seat at the top table in the Department of Health, and
    much current draft legislation is hardly sympathetic to social

    To some extent, the government has sought to protect and promote
    social care and social work by establishing various organisations
    such as the General Social Care Council, the Commission for Social
    Care Inspection, and the Social Care Institute for Excellence. But
    recently it has mooted combining some of these social care
    organisations with others such as those that focus on health.

    Furthermore, although no longer on the cards, the government’s
    plan to transfer seven Department of Health partnership programmes
    to Scie would have broadened Scie’s remit in such a way that its
    independence as a charity and a company limited by guarantee would
    have been challenged. The proposed changes would have probably
    resulted in Scie becoming a distributor of government policy.

    So what needs to happen? The social care sector needs to cling
    on to its independence. Would doctors, nurses, or teachers find it
    acceptable that their professional views, based on expertise,
    should be defined and determined by the government via the NHS or
    Department for Education and Skills?

    Also, as well as registering with the GSCC, social workers
    should also join the British Association of Social Workers as their
    professional organisation. The rest of the social care workforce
    should join the Social Care Association. Also, social care
    organisations must promote evidence-based policy and practice.

    The sector needs to stay close to its service users in setting
    agendas and creating the vision. After all, as the sector asserts
    its independence it is vital that it remembers for whom it is

    Ray Jones is director of adult and community services at
    Wiltshire Council.

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