Social care professionals should lead the way in building the Big Society and support communities to take responsibility for services, Skills for Care has said. The Workforce Development Strategy for adult social care in England, published today, urges social care workers to recognise the potential of service users, carers, volunteers and user-led organisations to contribute to communities.
The report describes this as “community capacity building” and calls for it to be a priority for skills development.
“The Big Society agenda offers an opportunity for adult social care to lead the way in which local communities, neighbourhoods and citizens get involved in taking responsibility for local services and improving people’s lives,” the strategy says.
It calls on the 1.6 million workforce to “work in different ways, develop new skills and work flexibly across organisational and professional boundaries”.
A separate document, a Recruitment and Retention Strategy for Adult Social Care, published by Skills for Care this week, also highlights ways to redefine the workforce. In particular, adults’ services directors are encouraged to include personal assistants as part of the social care workforce “in terms of safeguarding legislation, qualifications and learning”.
The reports are intended to help employers meet the personalisation agenda, set out in the Department of Health’s Vision for Adult Social Care through workforce development.
In a foreword to Skills for Care’s workforce strategy, care services minister Paul Burstow said the government wanted “a workforce that is ready to take on the responsibility of making decisions, and ready to work in partnership with carers and volunteers locally. A workforce that is helping to develop community skills, willing to respond to the new social care and health landscape, and directed by high-quality leaders and managers.”
In order to attract high-quality staff, the skills body is calling on the sector to raise the status of social care in the recruitment and retention strategy through several initiatives.
These include allocating resources to continuing professional development, encouraging apprenticeships and graduate schemes, developing more social care degree courses, and the development of a senior practitioner role.
Skills for Care is finalising a more detailed action plan and a guide to the workforce development strategy.
CAN THE WORKFORCE DELIVER THE VISION?
Skills for Care’s workforce development strategy spells out the implications for the workforce in meeting the following principles of the government’s Vision for Adult Social Care.
● Personalisation: personal budgets are rolled out to all adults who are eligible, alongside information about care and support. Implications for the workforce: using more outcomes-based assessments and review processes, and developing skills in supporting self-directed care.
● Prevention: people and communities work together to maintain independence, with support from the state where necessary. Implications for the workforce: more skills needed in working with technology, partnership working and community capacity building.
● Protection: there are sensible safeguards against the risk of abuse or neglect. Implications for the workforce: care workers should be able to promote independence and choice while supporting people to manage risk.
● Plurality: the variety of people’s needs is matched by diverse service provision. Implications for the workforce: Continuing professional development should ensure that workers can adapt skills as service provision requirements change.
● Partnership: care and support delivered in partnership between individuals, communities, the voluntary and private sectors, the NHS and councils. Implications for the workforce: “Bottom-up” skills, such as those of community workers and neighbourhood co-ordinators, are vital.
● Productivity: more local accountability will drive improvements and innovation to care services. Implications for the workforce: workers should develop skills such as business and community development, marketing and using technology.
● People: the workforce should provide care and support with skill, compassion and imagination. Implications for the workforce: staff will work across a variety of employment models such as mutuals, co-operatives, user-led organisations, existing independent sector employers and individual service users.
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