Test your social work practice against a 20-point ‘serious case review’ checklist

Safeguarding board hopes new tool will boost social worker 'confidence in practice' and help managers

By Rachel Carter

A safeguarding board has published a 20-point checklist designed to help social workers improve their practice.

Leicestershire and Rutland safeguarding board produced the checklist based on an analysis of recommendations from serious case reviews (SCRs) published across the country between 2010 to 2013. The safeguarding board’s analysis identified several themes of gaps in the practice of individual practitioners.

The checklist – which you can download here – aims to help social workers in adult and children’s services identify areas for development in their practice.

The checklist features a series of self-assessment questions for professionals. These include:

  • How do I ask challenging questions about very sensitive matters?
  • What is life really like for the children or vulnerable adult in this family?
  • How do I develop the expertise to sense that the child or parent or adult is being evasive?
  • Do I understand my role and responsibilities within the child/adult improvement protection plan?
  • Have I had time to reflect the experience and learning from it, in supervision or in discussions with colleagues?

The checklist also includes four key responsibilities for organisations to help social care professionals recognise, respond and report safeguarding issues:

  • Provide safeguarding training opportunities for staff
  • Ensure all staff and managers understand their responsibility to undertake supervision
  • Develop a culture where fellow professionals offer supervision
  • Understand that changing the way organisations manage frontline staff will have an impact on how they interact with children and families

Research by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) published last year found that one in four social workers never read serious case review recommendations. Nearly two thirds of social workers only “sometimes” read the recommendations. At the time, BASW called for better use and distribution of SCRs to enable all professionals to use them as learning opportunities.

Helen Pearson, board officer for the safeguarding children and adults at Leicestershire County Council, said: “Obviously as boards we are keen to develop confidence in practice and we have picked up on themes that we feel are particularly important based on learning from serious case reviews.

“We want to encourage people to, in both supervision and team and unit meetings, to start talking about these things not just as individuals but also as a team and as managers.”

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