Social workers will be ‘navigators’ of adult social services in new plan

Social workers must become “navigators not gatekeepers” of
services to achieve the government’s 15-year vision of an adult
social care system geared towards independence and

However, despite calling for a radical overhaul of social care to
deliver more preventive services and promote community capacity,
this week’s long-awaited green paper promises no new resources for

Independence, Well-being and Choice calls for users to assess their
needs and manage their care through individual budgets, received
either as direct payments or services, and including benefits and
equipment services as well as social care.

This will free up social workers to co-ordinate services and help
people make their choices, though the government insists they will
still assess those with the most complex needs.

British Association of Social Workers director Ian Johnston
welcomed the move, saying social workers wanted to be free to be

“They’ve not been able to do that. They’ve been treated as
gatekeepers [of services],” Johnston said.

In an echo of the Children Act 2004, the green paper sets seven
broad outcomes for adult care, which stretch well beyond the
traditional social services domain to include promoting health and
economic well-being.

The government expects directors of adult social services to lead
on delivering the outcomes and, in a separate consultation on the
role, suggests they could take responsibility for lifelong
learning, housing and other adult services.

While the government will not impose care trust structures,
councils and health bodies will face duties to form commissioning
partnerships, typically including the voluntary sector, to plan
services and shift resources towards prevention.

Community care minister Stephen Ladyman said there would be no
extra resources to deliver the shift until the end of the current
spending review period in 2008, but held open the possibility of
increased funding after that.

However, the government expects NHS resources to flow into social
care through joint commissioning and Ladyman promised to align
health and social care targets to encourage this.

However, Association of Directors of Social Services president Tony
Hunter warned: “It’s the right way forward but it’s not a cheap

A white paper will be published in the autumn.

  • Green paper from

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