ADSW survey reveals lack of knowledge about social work

One in five people in Scotland have a low opinion of social work while there is a widespread lack of knowledge about services, a survey by the Association of Directors of Social Work revealed today.

The ADSW published the results as it launched a campaign, Social Work Changes Lives, to improve public understanding and challenge recent adverse media coverage of social work.

Low opinion

The research, which polled around 1,000 people across Scotland, found around 20% rated social work services from one to five, on a scale of one to ten, while 43% were unable to express an opinion.

However, the picture improved among respondents who have had contact with social work services. Seventy per cent of those who had either used social services themselves or knew a family member who had within the last two years expressed a positive opinion.

The survey revealed that the public associated the profession mainly with child protection or the care of older people. When asked what they most identified social services with, 32% cited child protection and 28% older people’s care, with just 7% citing supporting disabled people and 4% mental health.

Goodwill but lack of awareness

ADSW president Alan Baird said: “It is clear that there is a great deal of goodwill toward social service workers but that there is also a lack of knowledge about the range of services we provide and the areas our work covers.

“Our effectiveness depends to a significant degree on public awareness and confidence in our work. It is also important to staff morale and motivation – and ultimately recruitment.”

The campaign follows the launch of Community Care’s Stand Up Now for Social Work campaign to improve media coverage of the profession.

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