Viewpoint: Social care needs space to flourish

Disabled people and social care professionals welcomed the adult
social care green paper. At last, here was a statement from the
government that valued social care and social work and recognised
the contribution both can make to enhancing the quality of life for
disabled and older people, and to the government’s agendas to
tackle social exclusion and promote independence.

But where are we now? We are slipping back to the bad old days of
adult social care and social work being seen as an adjunct to the
NHS and being measured on how they deliver on NHS priorities.

Social care and social work is much more than tackling acute
hospital delayed discharges and being contained within the rather
negative heading of Out of Hospital Services, which is the
threatened title for the forthcoming NHS (and social care) white

Social care and social work merit their own space and profile
within political, policy and practice agendas.

Social care and social work have a tradition of working in
partnership with disabled and older people, accepting and
developing the social model of disability, developing an
increasingly broad menu of assistance, and recognising people’s
capacity, competence and contribution while taking action to
provide advice, assistance and, where necessary, protection. It is
social work, in particular, which stays alongside people at times
of distress.

Social care and social work should be central to the government’s
ambitions. Disabled people, with their concern about patronising,
paternalistic and sometimes disempowering services based on a
medical model and clinical traditions, recognise the importance of
social care and of social workers.

So, let’s hope the care services minister fulfils the promise of
the adult social care green paper. Social care may be the minnow
alongside the NHS mammoth, but for disabled people it is the people
who work in social care who are their allies.
We need to shout now and hope that this is a “listening

Ray Jones is director of adult and community services at
Wiltshire Council and deputy chair of the British Association of
Social Workers

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