Adult social workers will be invited to form independent practices to support older and disabled people, health secretary Andrew Lansley has said today.
Social work practices for adults, independent of local authorities, will be piloted along the lines of similar practices for children, Lansley told the National Children and Adult Services Conference.
The practices, which would carry out councils’ statutory functions in relation to adults, are designed to reduce bureaucracy for social workers, give them more day-to-day control over cases, improve staff satisfaction and make more flexible use of resources.
Lansley said: “Putting decision-making and power in the hands of social workers will mean better, more personal care for individuals. Social workers – the people who really know their clients – will have flexibility to create services around their clients. These pilots will explore how the government can encourage social workers to develop fully independent groups contracted to local authorities.”
He said the practices would work across health and social care, suggesting their may be scope for community health staff such as district nurses to take part in them.
Children’s social work practices have proved controversial, sparking opposition from unions, however.
As revealed by Community Care yesterday Lansley also spelled out how £1bn a year allocated to the NHS to spend on adult social care should be used by primary care trusts.
He said they would be expected to spend £150m on reablement in 2011-12 and £300m in 2012-13.
Lansley also announced that a series of traiblazer authorities would test how proposed health and well-being boards could work. These were announced in the NHS White Paper, published in July, and are designed to join up the commissioning and planning of health and social care services in local areas.
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