Editorial Comment: A long wait for very little

A long-awaited report examining the roles and tasks of social work was released last week with little fanfare.

Steered by the GSCC, it’s a competent description of social work as it stands today. With an intention to inform government policy, the report calls for social work to be adequately supported and resourced, and urges employers to improve continuity in the professional relationship with the client.

Maybe its biggest achievement is to promote the importance of social work. Mike Wardle, chief executive of the GSCC, says it’s a response to the desire of social workers to get out from behind their desks and spend more time with clients. (Ironic then that another of our stories suggests that a new IT-enabled case management system, far from reducing paperwork, has created a bureaucracy all of its own.)

But that’s as far as the document goes. The twin agendas of prevention and personalisation will change social work enormously. Navigation and brokerage will become more important, care management less so. But you wouldn’t know that from the document – it offers little insight on the implications for practice from a massively changed policy landscape.

Eighteen months after ministers commissioned the report, the profession still awaits a galvanising vision of where social work is headed and how we get there.

This could still be a useful reference point if a body grabs it and makes it relevant to evolving frontline practice. Until then, I won’t be the only one feeling under whelmed.

Related article

Roles and tasks in need of fanfare

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Mike Broad



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