Inadequate social worker training puts implementation of Care Act at risk, warns BASW

One third of social workers surveyed by association say their training on the Care Act has been inadequate

The implementation of the Care Act 2014 is being put at risk by inadequate training for social workers, the British Association of Social Workers has claimed following a member survey.

Thirty per cent of the 272 practitioners polled by BASW said they had received inadequate training from their employer on the act, while a further third said their training had been partially successful.

While about a fifth of respondents said implementation of the act was going ‘well’ or ‘fairly well’ in their area, about 45% said that it was going ‘not very well’ or ‘not well’. Over half said they had encountered problems in providing information and advice to the public and having resources to deliver on the act, while over 40% said they had faced IT problems.

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BASW professional officer Joe Godden said the association fully supported the principles of the act, which include promoting wellbeing, taking account of individuals’ wishes, views and feelings and the importance of preventing need.

Not equipped

However, he added: “A worryingly high proportion of social workers surveyed feel that they are not sufficiently equipped to implement the act properly.”

“It is important that employers ensure that social workers get good quality training and access to information and advice. The social workers who are most positive say that they are encouraged to debate situations and cases as they come in; real action learning.”

Social workers are crucial to the implementation of the act because of their critical role in delivering the new “customer journey” introduced by the act, encompassing information and advice, prevention, assessment, determining eligibility, care planning and review, for service users and carers.

Most respondents – just under 80% of those who answered the question – said they had received face-to-face training – with just under 30% saying they had received online training and just under 40% saying they had received team meetings.

Mixed views on quality of training

There were mixed views on the quality of face-to-face training, with 45% saying it had been excellent or good, 35% average and 20% poor.

Eighteen per cent of respondents said they had received no training at all but this may reflect the fact that about 10% of respondents were independent social workers or employed by third sector organisations, meaning they may not have access to Care Act training. A further 15% worked in health and 75% in local authority settings – the group most likely to receive training as councils are the organisations chiefly responsible for implementing the Care Act and have received funding to do so.

Online survey

BASW stressed that the online survey had a self-selecting sample and represented an early snapshot of the implementation of the act, which took place on 1 April this year. But it is the first piece of evidence about how social workers feel the act is being implemented, and follows a series of “stocktakes” of senior managers’ views on implementation by the Local Government Association.

The latest stocktake – conducted in January and February – found all councils were very or fairly confident that their workforces would be sufficiently prepared for implementation of the Care Act

However, the BASW research suggests a more mixed picture on this issue, with good and bad comments from social workers responding to the survey.

The good

Positive comments from respondents included:-

  • “I have received a vast amount of training around the Care Act 2014. This training was delivered in an easy to understand format, with a variety of case studies/circumstances which proved very helpful”.
  • “Assessment forms introduced with the new act have been easier to use than expected and seem to focus well on client need.”
  • “It has led to significant simplification of our processes and forms/plans.”

The bad

However, BASW also received many negative comments including:-

  • “We attended an utterly useless 2-hour briefing in March which gave us no information about how we would actually implement the act, only a very brief overview of the act itself. After 10pm on the 31st March I received a work email with attachments of ‘interim assessment paperwork’.”
  • “My team are embracing the Care Act but IT systems, unclear procedures and senior management delaying decision making [are] causing confusion and unnecessary stress.”
  • “New assessment forms are not fit for purpose – older people/physical health orientated [and] not workable for transition work with young adults with disabilities.”
  • “Nobody is really aware of the implications, few have read statutory guidance, practice hasn’t changed.”

Next stocktake

The results of the next stocktake of progress from the LGA are due shortly. Local authorities are also expecting the regulations and guidance for the next stage of the Care Act reforms, due for implementation in April 2016, including the cap on individuals’ care costs and the introduction of a new system to appeal against local authority decisions.

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