‘Outstanding’ council sees benefit of giving social workers personal assistants

Ofsted says targeted investment has given Hampshire council the tools to reach 'outstanding'

Photo: DisobeyArt/Fotolia

Article updated 13 June

Appointing personal assistants to support social workers has helped give practitioners time to work directly with children and families in an ‘outstanding’ children’s service.

In an Ofsted judgment published this week, inspectors praised the impact of targeted investment in Hampshire children’s services and a “highly successful” large-scale transformation of the service.

Services in Hampshire were rated ‘outstanding’ across the board and inspectors praised leaders who had worked purposefully to improve services in the county, which had been judged ‘good’ five years ago.

‘Ambitious transformation’

“Strong political and corporate support and well-targeted financial investment have helped the leadership team to implement an ambitious transformation programme. This has created the capacity, training and infrastructure to enable social workers to engage more purposefully with children and their families,” inspectors found.

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The transformation has seen the creation of more social work posts, an innovative pathway of support for newly qualified social workers and specialist multi-disciplinary teams that support “an increasingly holistic approach to children’s needs”.

Personal assistants in Hampshire provide administrative support to social workers, including by tracking and monitoring visits, typing up notes and minute taking.

“The appointment of personal assistants to support social workers, combined with improved technology and the implementation of the strengths-based social work model, the ‘Hampshire Approach’, have equipped social workers with the tools, skills and time to work directly with children and families,” the report said.

As a result of this, social workers were positive about working in the council, and they valued innovative approaches to technology and flexible working.

“Management oversight is rigorous and effective, consistently ensuring that children’s plans are progressed at the right pace,” inspectors found.

‘Commitment to continually improving practice’

Hampshire council’s leader Keith Mans, said the council was proud of the high standard of its children’s services and of its national reputation as a high-performing authority.

“[This is] evident in the many partnerships that we have with other councils who have sought our guidance and expertise to help further improve their own services,” Mans said, offering congratulations to staff and management at the council.

“As Ofsted has commented, ‘children’s lives consistently improve as a result of the help they receive’ and this would not happen without the skill and professionalism of those who support them and their commitment to continually improving practice,” Mans said.

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7 Responses to ‘Outstanding’ council sees benefit of giving social workers personal assistants

  1. Sabine June 12, 2019 at 12:44 pm #

    Congratulation Hampshire of becoming outstanding. I have always argued when I worked at different LA’s that we as social workers should have PAs for exactly the same reasons Hampshire decided to do this. I hope other LA’s take heed and act accordingly!

  2. J. James June 12, 2019 at 10:14 pm #

    Well done Hampshire for investing in developing your NQSWs. Well done area CAST for the skillful implementation of a new model to connect with families and Hampshire MASH for the relentless commitment to the constant workload, we deserve this result!! OUTSTANDING

  3. JOANNE DONALD June 13, 2019 at 11:09 am #

    WELL DONE, Hampshire, not only on your FANTASTIC OFSTED rating but on becoming so progressive and proactive when it comes to the delivery of care for all the children and families who access your services for much needed support. The introduction of the P.A.system is an EXCELLENT opportunity for all Local Authorities to take note of. There is a wealth of SOCIAL CARE students who decide not to continue to a degree and I think they will thrive in positions such as this as well as offering their gained knowledge and skills to be really valuable assets. CONGRATULATIONS!!

  4. Me June 13, 2019 at 10:50 pm #

    Well done Hampshire- other LA’s take note.

  5. sandra power June 14, 2019 at 6:18 am #

    I started arguing over 30 years ago for social workers to have exactly this – it’s an amazing development which will transform their working lives for the better. The obvious results will be time to really do change work with families and feel you’re actually doing your job properly, no more unpaid hours working evening /weekends, time to plan and think, time to spend with your own children, etc. Well done Hampshire County Council – and lets pray that other LAs reconsider their support of a workforce in crisis….

  6. Mark Allenby June 14, 2019 at 10:52 am #

    I spent nine years working in CAMHS where we had medical secretaries who in many ways acted as PA’s. There were invaluable and improved the service given to the families we worked with. I would love to see this rolled out more widely to social work services.

  7. Shirley Hanson June 16, 2019 at 9:02 am #

    We had something similar in Salford for a short space of time when I worked in multidisciplinary team. It was invaluable to me getting my casenotes and reports typed up. However it was short-lived when I moved to a social work team and was expected to take on these tasks myself. Even more arduous when the computer system didn’t allow for multiple family members input, each child’s notes had to be inputted separately. My first case on this team was a family with 9 children.