Romeo sets ‘national benchmark’ for adult social work practice

Chief social worker’s skills list for newly qualified social workers strengthens focus on Mental Capacity Act and employer support

The chief social worker for adults has published the list of skills that all adults’ social workers will be expected to have by the end of their first year in practice.

Lyn Romeo’s knowledge and skills statement aims to set a ‘national benchmark’ for the expectations of newly qualified social workers working with adults . The government is recommending that Romeo’s statement should form the basis of assessments of newly qualified adult social workers and that employment in statutory adult social work should be dependent on completion of the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment, but neither will be mandatory for employers.

Stronger focus on Mental Capacity Act

The statement features several revisions to draft proposals that were put out to consultation last year. Key changes include a stronger focus on the Mental Capacity Act and safeguarding, a greater consideration of the applicability of the requirements to social workers working outside of local authority settings and an increased focus on employer support and supervision.

Romeo told Community Care that feedback from social workers in the consultation had helped her to “focus very clearly” on strengthening some areas that were clearly a priority for practitioners.

“So in particular, the imperative that social workers are well-placed to respond to mental capacity issues, that they continue to take a strong human-rights approach to their work and that they are required to safeguard and promote people’s independence and wellbeing,” she said.

National assessment framework

Romeo’s statement also sets out the criteria that all newly qualified social workers in adult services should be assessed against at the end of their ASYE. The introduction of a national framework, which was recommended in a Department of Health-commissioned review of social work education last year, aims to ensure consistency in assessments. A system for validating the implementation of the assessments will be led by The College of Social Work.

The publication of Romeo’s statement follows the release of a similar statement for children’s social workers produced by Isabelle Trowler, the chief social worker for children.

Government ‘committed to one profession’

The Department of Health’s official response to feedback on Romeo’s statement acknowledges concerns that having separate statements for adult and children’s social work “could undermine the unity of the profession” but said the government was committed to maintaining social work as one profession.

Some respondents to the consultation on Romeo’s statement suggested that adult social work should introduce similar progression routes to the three new practice levels being brought in for children’s social workers – the Approved Child and Family Practitioner, practice supervisor and practice leader roles.

The Department of Health said it would review the implementation of the new children’s social work statuses and identify any “lessons and suitability for social work with adults”. Romeo said she wanted to initially look at strengthening the existing training and support frameworks that are in place for adult social workers.

“We want to to utilise the ASYE and consolidate the good practice around what adult social workers need to know and do,” she said.

“We already have other routes that social workers can train up in – if they want to be an AMHP (Approved Mental Health Professional) or a BIA (Best interests assessor) they have to go through an accreditation process and do additional qualifications, so at the moment we wanted to focus on making the ASYE more consistent.”

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