Inspectors point to flaws in Scottish social work

A report by the Social Work Inspection Agency, published today, highlights a number of improvements that need to be made to social work in Scotland.

Improving Social Work in Scotland said that:

• Much more work needed to be done to improve the care of older people.

• There was not generally a good range and quality of services for people with dementia.

• Misuse of drugs and alcohol by adults has resulted in more children becoming looked-after.

• Not enough councils had “consistent and coherent” approaches to achieving long-term security for children in the care system.

• The management and supervision of violent offenders was not well developed.

• Social work managers were better at managing people than leading change and improvement.

“There is further work to be done to ensure that wherever people live they get the highest possible standard of care and support,” said Scotland’s children’s minister Adam Ingram.

The report also found no clear association between levels of expenditure and performance.

Ingram said: “At a time when central and local government are facing severe financial constraints as a result of cuts from the UK government, this highlights the need to ensure that finite resources are used as effectively as they can be.”

Harriet L Dempster, president of the Association of Directors of Social Work, said: “We recognise that it is very unlikely that there would be a direct relationship between spend and performance as this is rarely found in any field because of the other factors at play.

“All factors need to be taken into account, for example the impact of deprivation, and the amount of family and community support to a person, before any conclusions are drawn.”

Despite the criticisms, inspectors said that “the majority of people of all ages who use services have valued them and think they have made positive difference to their lives.”

It also said that “staff who provide services are committed and look for ways to improve the services they offer to people.”

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