Government rejects social work ‘health check’ claims

The government has rejected claims that many employers in England have failed to complete a workload "health check" of their social services departments.

The government has rejected claims that many employers in England have failed to complete a workload “health check” of their social work departments.

Community Care reported yesterday that half of social workers did not think their employer had carried out the Social Work Task Force’s recommended health check, which was designed to help assess vacancy rates and caseloads.

Another third said they were unsure, according to a survey by recruitment agency Liquid Personnel.

But the Department for Education said today that it believed some 78% of local authorities and some voluntary sector employers have used the health check or a similar tool.

The taskforce produced the health check framework in its final report in 2009, with the aim of initiating conversations between managers and staff about workload and the working environment.

A spokesperson for the DfE said almost all (97%) of the 118 employers in question had found the health checks to be helpful.

Employers were asked to identify which elements of the health check had been most difficult to implement. Most said establishing effective workload management, including reducing caseloads and improving supervision.

John Nawrockyi, secretary of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services’ workforce development network, said Adass research had shown most councils had carried out some form of the health check, reflecting the government’s findings.

When asked to explain the discrepancy between the experiences of employers and social workers, he suggested that frontline practitioners may not always have related wider discussions about workload to the health check.

He said: “Some councils did the health check in full, others tailored it to local needs. I suspect that the responses [to Liquid Personnel’s survey] are due to the different degrees of implementation.”

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