Moira Gibb: ‘Clarity on social work role is key to improvements’

Chair of the Social Work Task Force Moira Gibb has said that social work needs to be clearly distinguished from social care in order to raise its status and quality.

Gibb told Community Care one of the key reasons for the problems facing the profession was that “we’re not clear around the difference between social work and social care”.

In a report this month, the taskforce promised to produce a description of social work to address public perceptions.

It also said it would make recommendations on the roles of national social care agencies, such as the General Social Care Council, Social Care Institute for Excellence and Skills for Care, after social workers questioned their effectiveness in supporting the profession.

Focus on social work

Gibb (right) said: “I don’t think there’s much focus on social work [in the agencies]; there’s much more focus on social care and the taskforce has been one of the few forums in which we can talk about social work as a profession in its own right.”

She said its successful call – questioned by the GSCC – for the government to establish a separate code of practice for social workers in England, as opposed to all social care staff, was similarly motivated.

“There’s strong support for that recognition,” she said. “We tend to use social work and social care in an interchangeable way, which doesn’t help.”

Gibb also said there had been a strong response from practitioners applying to become members of a reference group designed to increase frontline influence on the taskforce.

Lack of adult service user involvement

Meanwhile, Peter Beresford (right), chair of service user organisation Shaping Our Lives, has written to Gibb calling for user involvement in the taskforce to be “significantly strengthened”.

The taskforce includes Maxine Wrigley, co-ordinator of care leaver-led organisation A National Voice, and Anne Beales, who has used mental health services and is director of user involvement at the charity Together.

However, Beresford pointed out that there was no member from an organisation representing adult service users.

He pointed to government commitments to increase the influence of user-led organisations in every area, and added: “After all, involving service users as a key stakeholder and improving services for them lies at the heart of the work of the taskforce.”

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