A council has recruited the UK’s first social work dog.
The move by Upmead Borough Council is part of a bid to offer more security to lone workers.
The dog, called Cardigan, has been specially trained to detect the non-verbal cues associated with deception.
Under the scheme social workers bring the dog with them on calls to ‘make friends’ with the service user’s animal and go on walks with them.
Outcomes are assessed using a ‘tail-wag’ monitoring tool developed in line with principles laid down in Professor Eileen Munro’s second interim report.
A senior adults’ social worker, who did not wish to be named, said the low cost scheme had notched up some notable successes.
“Prior to the scheme I usually couldn’t get in the door. Now my arrival is greeted with whimpering noises, some barking and the thrashing of tails.
“Cardigan has even ‘sat down’ to joint meals with Rhodesian ridgebacks and pitballs that previously neither he nor I would have anything to do with. While this is going on, I’m able to broker some kind of relationship with the service user. They find it empowering.
“Cardigan may not look too tough, but he can look after himself. He has been fully trained in de-escalation techniques.”
Upmead council wants to roll out the scheme across the county.
“The positive impact of this simple, low cost initiative is an example of the thinking we’re doing around the Big Society,” a spokesman said.
In a separate development, a conduct committee of the General Social Care Council has admonished a social worker who attempted to register his dog with the regulator.
“Bonzo has had far more success than I have in gaining service users’ trust and working in multidisciplinary settings so I wanted his contribution to be made formal,” said the social worker, who wished to remain anonymous.
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