Social workers can be forgiven for being a tad cynical about consultation exercises. Every month another one begins, as drenched in high ideals as they are divorced from the realities of delivering front-line services.
On the face of it, this month appears no exception with the launch of the General Social Care Council’s consultation on the future of the profession. But, suspend that cynicism if you can. This report is different. It tackles the issues surrounding the role and tasks of social workers in England – and gives us the opportunity to set out a compelling vision for the future.
Social work has undergone significant change in qualifications, standards, regulation, policies and delivery structures in recent years. It’s time to clarify its role and relevance, and demonstrate how it is best used and developed it’s an opportunity to tackle the barriers to effective working. Commissioned by education and health ministers, the consultation could inform the direction for social work for years to come. But, the value of the document lies in your involvement. It has to reflect the realities of front-line social work.
The report recognises some of the challenges. It suggests that better use of administrators and IT could free up social workers to concentrate on their key tasks. It acknowledges that many employers suffer from bureaucratic procedures, top-heavy management structures and unmanageable workloads. And it calls for career alternatives to management.
If this consultation can be owned by the profession then it could be more than a talking shop. Many of us might be enabled to take a significant, collective step towards its definition of exemplary social work – the co-ordination of professionals and carers into delivering holistic solutions to people’s problems, enabling them to fulfil their true potential.
So tell us what you think the role of social workers should be
This article appeared in the 22 March issue under the headline “A chance to influence”
● Community Care believes this consultation is so important to the future of the profession that we’re running a competition to canvass your views. Briefly set out your vision for the roles and responsibilities of social work and we’ll run the best in the magazine. The most impressive correspondent will win an iPod. Closing date is 28 March. Submit your views (in no more than 300 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org