GSCC’s Mike Wardle calls for minimum client/worker ratio

The General Social Care Council is calling for national guidelines on minimum staffing requirements for social work teams to address the problem of unreasonable workloads.

Speaking before the government announced the creation of a Social Work Taskforce, GSCC chief executive Mike Wardle (pictured) said there was currently no “agreed model for the delivery of social work” and that existing caseload management systems were not working.

He was responding to last week’s report from the joint area review of safeguarding in Haringey, which found social workers in the London borough were “unable to action all cases effectively” due to heavy workloads.

Wardle said research should be carried out into what constitutes an ideal client/social worker ratio, bringing social care into line with education, which has standard teacher/pupil ratios. “We need to have a proper understanding of a workload model – we don’t really have a grasp on how to measure caseloads, and how to see the warning signs if workload is becoming a problem.”

Wardle said recruitment problems were also to blame, and called for greater investment to attract new entrants.

The joint area review found Haringey children’s services had a high turnover of social workers and “heavy reliance” on agency staff, and criticised the quality of child assessments, record-keeping and child protection plans.

Wardle repeated his call for tougher regulation of employers after the review found limited evidence of effective supervision.

He said the GSCC was in talks with the Care Quality Commission, which will begin inspecting adult care services next year, and Ofsted, to explore ways of incorporating the GSCC’s code of practice for employers into their inspection frameworks.

Closer adherence to the code, which requires managers to provide training and development opportunities and manage the performance of their staff to ensure high quality care, would help prevent a repeat of the management failings seen in Haringey, he said.

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