Social care professional body forced to close

Social Care Association chief signs off with attack on lack of support for non-social work care staff.

Social Care Association chief executive Nick Johnson

The Social Care Association (SCA) has gone into liquidation and closed with the loss of six jobs.

Chief executive Nick Johnson said the professional association for care staff, which was formed in 1949, had run out of money to continue operations due to dwindling income from consultancy and training services. Johnson pointed out that the SCA had not received any government funding, even though social care staff who are not social workers account for 92% of the total social services workforce.

In contrast, the government provided The College of Social Work with £5m in seed funding and more than £1m to fund projects in 2012-13.

‘Not a penny on social care workforce’

“By and large we are not competing with the College for contracts and it’s one of the organisations that has given us some work,” said Johnson. “I am not arguing against spending money on the social worker workforce but there is not a penny spent on the 92% that I can see, other than from large employer trade organisations or non-governmental organisations.”

Johnson also said the shift in social care provision from a “largely public service” to a “fragmented” sector – 1.8 million people working for 48,000 employers – had made it difficult to attract members. SCA had about 1,000 members when it closed, compared with a peak of 5,000.

Closure is ‘great shame’

Debbie Sorkin, acting chief executive of the National Skills Academy for Social Care, said it was a “great shame” that the SCA had closed.

“It was pretty much the only association for a long time that catered for the needs of individuals working in social care,” she said. “Most of the other membership bodies are about putting the employer’s point of view across.

“I wish SCA had been more widely recognised for the value of what it brought and a way had been found to keep it going. It was rare due to the voice it gave to individuals.”

Support for ‘unvalued’ managers

Sorkin said the National Skills Academy would continue to develop its support for social care workers, particularly registered managers of care homes, many of whom have reported that they don’t feel valued by employers.

“Registered managers often feel isolated from one another, and a lot of smaller providers are not necessarily as well networked as they might be,” she said. “People often feel under great and competing pressures and priorities, and don’t have an organisation to which they can turn.”

To counter this, the National Skills Academy aims to establish local support groups for registered managers to complement its new national network.

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