Social skirmishes

● One of my colleagues was listening to Radio Four (after work, you understand) and heard about proposals to introduce electronic monitoring for home care workers. Lots of buzz phrases about improving care planning, cutting bureaucracy, electronic timesheets and payroll systems were mentioned.

I am sure the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services are pioneering toolkits on piloting the initiative as I write, soon to be joined by a consultation paper from the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, and the General Social Care Council setting up a committee of stakeholders. None of it, of course, monitored.

In the office teabreak, we wondered whether it would be introduced into social work. One optimistic soul says that it could result in the great panjandrums recognising all the bureaucracy we face, but this is met by guffaws of laughter. Another opines that we could wear futuristic helmets with cameras and hearing devices so our every move can be tracked: reminiscent of the film Terminator, where the audience sees the computer screen on Arnie’s eyeball flash up “F**k you, asshole!”.

But the best Tomorrow’s World-type idea was robots replacing social workers. A recent TV programme showed a Japanese robot (where else?) opening doors and hoovering the house a few more years and they’ll be counselling and offering holistic practice. Far fetched? Well, robots already work in management.

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