Social workers ‘go extra mile’ to minimise Olympics disruption

Frontline staff praised for showing "huge flexibility and willingness" to make sure care services aren't disrupted during the Games.

Social workers in London’s Olympic boroughs have been praised for “going the extra mile” to help minimise disruption to care during the Games.

Waltham Forest and Tower Hamlets councils, which provide social care in two of the five Olympic host boroughs, said frontline staff had “shown huge flexibility and willingness” to work different shift patterns and “ensure that service users are always put first.”

In Waltham Forest social care workers have also made themselves available on days off and volunteered to work in different services “if needed”, the local authority said.

Councillors in the east London borough admitted that “business as usual is never going to apply” for services during the Games. “[But] we still believe we can deliver services smoothly and that our staff are more than up to the challenge,” said Angie Bean, Waltham Forest’s cabinet member for adult services.

Local authorities in all five Olympic host boroughs told Community Care they had introduced a package of contingency measures to maintain service levels as far as possible during the competition.

With London’s transport network being put under strain, social workers have been spread across the boroughs to minimise the distance they need to travel to visit service users. In a bid to boost capacity, additional social care staff have been drafted in for out of hours cover in several areas.

Social care service users in Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest and Newham were contacted in advance of the Games to discuss home visit arrangements and warn of potential delays. Waltham Forest has also expanded its “staff cycle pool from eight to 30 to help staff beat congestion” and is offering free cycle training to social workers. 

Additional staffing has been secured for children’s services in Tower Hamlets, particularly for evening and weekend shifts.  The borough’s social care teams are also providing daily updates by 11am each morning as part of “an early warning system” to identify services that need additional support.

Hackney’s social care service “will be operating extended hours to allow for early and late visits if necessary,” the local authority confirmed.

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