Lyn Romeo, the chief social worker for adults, has set out proposals for a standardised national assessment that all newly qualified social workers working in adult services should undergo at the end of their assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE).
The plans are included in Romeo’s ‘knowledge and skills statement for social workers in adult services’ that was put out to consultation today. The national framework would see all social workers in adult services face a three-part assessment of their practice at the end of their first year in post. The three parts are:
- Four formal direct observations of practice from a registered social worker;
- The examination of two written pieces demonstrating the social worker’s ability to reflect on and learn from practice;
- Examination of at least three examples of written records, including case notes, supervision records and a report written for an external process such as a mental health tribunal or best interests assessment.
Development of the standardised assessments would be led by Skills for Care and a system for validating the system externally led by The College of Social Work, Romeo’s report says. The aim is to improve the system of quality assurance so that the social work profession “can have confidence that employers’ judgements [on NQSW standards] are consistent across the country”, it adds.
A Department of Health-commissioned review of social work education published in February this year recommended introducing a standard assessment criteria for social workers at the end of the ASYE. The review, by Professor David Croisdale-Appleby, also recommended that this assessment framework should be independently validated.
Both the Croisdale-Appleby review and the ASYE cover social workers in adults and children’s services. The Department of Health said that Romeo’s knowledge and skills statement – which included the ASYE proposals – was developed specifically for social workers in adult settings. However, the DH added that Romeo’s report would inform future developments of the ASYE alongside the knowledge and skills statement on children’s social work that was produced by Isabelle Trowler, the chief social worker for children’s services.
In response to Romeo’s statement, Croisdale-Appleby said he was “pleased that, following my review, action is being taken to improve practice and quality assure social workers’ capabilities in working with adults and their families and carers.”
Romeo’s knowledge and skills statement also sets out a ‘level of capability’ social workers in an adult setting should have at the end of their first year. This states that social workers should have ‘consistently demonstrated proficiency in a wide range of tasks and roles’ including person-centred assessments, confidence in working in multidisciplinary settings and being able to understand legal frameworks in adult settings, in particular the Mental Capacity Act, Mental Health Act and Care Act.
Launching the document, Romeo said: “Social workers play a vital role in improving people’s lives, so it’s really important that we equip them with the skills and knowledge they need to do their job. This statement sets out what we expect of newly qualified social workers working in adult social care and makes it clear what support and arrangements employers need to provide to get them up to this standard.
“This will help raise the bar for social work and put excellent practice at the heart of adult social care.”
Jo Cleary, chair of The College of Social Work, said Romeo’s statement was welcome and showed that social workers had a “pivotal role” to play in implementing the Care Act and upholding the principles of the Mental Capacity Act and Mental Health Act.
“But we want to emphasise the vital importance of government identifying the common ‘core’ of knowledge and skills needed by all social workers, and of therefore linking this draft statement to the one on which the Department for Education has recently consulted on with respect to children and family social workers,” Cleary added.
“The College looks forward to providing a response to this important document after consulting with our members. We would hope to play a lead role in delivering a more consistent approach to the validation of ASYE which will support better practice and help equip social workers to undertake their complex and challenging work.”