A new group of “para-professionals” are to work under the direction of social workers as part of a major overhaul proposed by the Scottish executive this week.
Responding to the long-awaited report of the 21st Century Social Work Review, leaked to Community Care last month, the executive also promised to set out in regulation the “protected functions of the social worker”. This would ensure clarity about those things only social workers can do.
A new career structure for social workers will be developed, providing a variety of options and allowing promotion without moving out of front-line work.
The executive said national priorities for social work services will allow all providers to “focus on an agreed set of goals” and that more responsibility will be devolved to front-line workers.
The executive said it would issue a full implementation plan, including funding proposals, following consultation. This is expected later this year.
The proposals on para-professionals responds to one of the review’s major findings – that skilled social workers were not being used in the most effective way, with much time taken up with work that does not require their expertise.
The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities said it was in general agreement with the executive’s “direction of travel”.