The government will produce a statement setting out the knowledge and skills expected of social workers working with older people.
Chief social worker for adults Lyn Romeo announced the plan for an older people’s knowledge and skills statement (KSS), along with an accompanying continuing professional development framework, in her latest blog post. No timetable has been announced for its publication.
The statement would add to the KSS for social workers with adults, published last year, which sets out what the government expects practitioners to know at the end of their first year in practice. Social workers who undertake the assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE) must be assessed against this KSS.
Specialist social work
The new KSS is part of Romeo’s drive to develop a post-qualifying career pathway for adult social workers involving roles in specialist areas of practice, building on the existing roles of approved mental health professional (AMHP) and best interests assessor (BIA).
The Department of Health is planning to pilot the role of named social worker for adults with learning disabilities, autism and learning disabilities, in six councils.The social worker will be the main contact for service users and their families, regardless of the setting they are being supported in, and will be able to challenge decisions about their care.
The Department of Health has also commissioned a series of resources in specialist areas of social work including autism, dementia, the Mental Capacity Act, mental health, carers and, most recently, older people.
In her annual report, published in March, Romeo said that there was a “pressing need for a CPD pathway which provides social workers with a clear framework setting out what they need to do to progress from practitioner, to supervisor, to leader, with opportunities to develop higher level specialisms in key areas of practice. For experienced social workers wishing to advance their career while remaining in frontline practice, there is often no option other than moving into management if they want to further their career and move up the pay scale…”
While the AMHP and BIA roles were well-established, “other areas of practice, such as end of life care, learning disabilities and dementia, often receive no professional status or recognition as specialist or advanced practitioner roles”.
Different approach in children’s services
The government has introduced KSS more extensively in children’s than adults’ services, while, unlike in adults’ services, the statements are also going to be used as the basis for accrediting practitioners.
In children’s there area knowledge and skills statements for child and family social work (for frontline practitioners), practice supervisors and practice leaders, while the Department for Education has also launched a consultation on a KSS on achieving permanence. The government plans for all frontline children’s social workers to have had the opportunity to have been accredited against the child and family social work statement by 2020.
New government-run regulator
Accreditation will be handled by a new government-run regulator for social work, which will take over the Health and Care Professions Council’s functions in relation to the profession in 2018. Romeo has said she is looking at how the new regulator can accredit AMHPs and BIAs, as well as practice supervisors in adult social work.