Defining what makes a good social care leader

Adult social care's first leadership qualities framework aims to improve services by defining what makes a high-quality leader from the boardroom to the front line, says Debbie Sorkin, acting chief executive of the National Skills Academy.

Care services minister Norman Lamb launched the national Leadership Qualities Framework for at the National Children and Adult Services Conference last week.

The framework is the first of its kind in social care. It describes, in a clear and accessible way, what good leadership looks like in different settings and situations, illustrating the attitudes and behaviours needed for high quality leadership at every level of the sector. It focuses on the values that provide the foundations of leadership, building on research undertaken by the Skills Academy with managers, practitioners, people who use services, and their carers and advocates. 

At the same time, the LQF goes beyond social care, incorporating insights from academic research into leadership, as well as from health services. Its structure mirrors that of the NHS Leadership Framework, so it can be applied in integrated services. And because it is grounded in everyday practice, the framework is for everyone in social care, from apprentices and care assistants through to team leaders, registered managers, directors and chief executives. 

Better care

Launching the framework, Lamb said: “The new Leadership Qualities Framework announced today is a fantastic step in the right direction. This work will mean organisations can better assess their leaders and introduce training to make sure that they have the right behaviours for the job to bring higher quality and better care in the sector. I am also delighted that this work will support development of leaders in both social care and the NHS to help the drive towards better integration of services.”

The framework will be a key tool in developing leadership, which the government sees as key to realising the objectives set out in the White Paper, Caring for our future: reforming care and support

We know that good social care can transform people’s lives. High-quality leadership is fundamental to the delivery of good care. The Leadership Qualities Framework can be an essential tool for small, medium and large employers to use to strengthen their leadership capacity.  They can see at a glance what good leadership looks like for people at different levels in their organisations.  They have a benchmark against which to measure themselves. And they can use the framework to show their staff not just what they should be doing, but how they should be doing it.”

Benefit for service users

Beyond the workforce, the LQF can be used by anyone involved in social care. It can bring leadership skills and capabilities to service users, their carers and the communities in which they live and work.  And it is underpinned by the principles of co-production, personalisation and community-based support, so that it makes good leadership accessible to micro-providers, personal employers and user-led organisations.

Over the coming months, the academy will be working to establish the Leadership Qualities Framework as an essential part of driving transformation in social care, so that the vision that we all have for the sector can become a reality.  

For more information on the LQF, please email Debbie Sorkin or go to the Skills Academy website

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