DH set to announce future role of adult social workers

The Department of Health is set to publish a statement on the future roles and tasks of adult social workers within a personalised care system, care minister Phil Hope has announced.

The long-awaited statement is a result of joint working between the DH and organisations such as the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the British Association of Social Workers and Skills for Care to clarify the role of social workers within the government’s Putting People First programme.

Under the three-year programme, which began in 2008, councils must roll out personal budgets, promote self-assessments by service users and provide universal advice and information on care.

In a number of councils, this has involved the transfer of responsibility for assessment and support planning from qualified social workers to non-qualified care staff in less complex cases, leading to concerns about the future role of social workers in adult services.

At Skills for Care’s annual conference today, Hope said: “The statement recognises that we live in changing times, but that social work will continue to be prominent as the social care landscape evolves.

“In particular it reinforces the central role social work has to play in personalisation and the Putting People First programme – where I know this has been an area for concern.

“I hope the statement will do three things: first, I hope it will offer reassurance to current social workers; second, I hope it will attract prospective candidates into the profession; and third, I want it to act as a common point of reference for employers, for the public and for policy makers, helping us to make faster progress on the wider reforms that are needed.”

The statement is expected to build upon a generic document on the roles and tasks of social workers published by the GSCC in March 2009, which was followed by a 14-page statement on the role of children’s social workers produced by the Children’s Workforce Development Council last year.

Andrea Rowe, chief executive of Skills for Care, said she was “relieved” that the statement on adult social workers was finally being published, admitting that it had taken “a long time”.

She said: “In most situations, a social worker is the best person to assess complex needs. And if social workers are not in the workforce, where do the next directors come from? The smaller the workforce gets, the harder it is to look to social workers to be leaders.”

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