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Changing the culture of social work

18 March 2016

Social workers need to be supported to change their working culture to focus on well-being, early intervention and prevention. This support must occur if social workers are to improve lives of people in adult social care and deliver sector efficiencies, according to a new paper published today by the Think Local Act Personal Partnership.

The report argues that the sector needs to reclaim social work so that it is community -focused and not constrained within a mechanistic case management approach. Such a 'strengths-based' approach that uses the skills and talents of people in their own communities, it argues, will lead to improved well-being and have a positive impact on the adult social care workforce.

Developing a Well-being and Strengths-based approach to social work practice: Changing Culture offers guidance and practice examples to help councils, providers, partners, and people who use services make this cultural shift in adult social care; a move that is aligned to the Care Act duty to promote individual well-being - one of the most ambitious goals for public service reform in recent times.

Lyn Romeo, Chief Social Worker, Department of Health, said:

"I am delighted to endorse this publication which is a vital contribution to work to reclaim social work practice to a community focus that promotes well-being, choice and control and is therefore key to the Department of Health's ambitions to transform social care through the Care Act and other policy drivers."

She continued, "Today, I am hosting a special celebration of our profession, inspired by World Social Work Day. I'm also pleased to be able to launch my annual report for 2015/16 which sets out the progress made in social work, the challenges ahead and priorities for the next twelve months and I am promoting Developing a Well-being and Strengths-based Approach to Social Work Practice and its significant contribution to changing and improving social work practice."

Lynda Tarpey, TLAP Director said:

"Adult social care specifically, and councils generally, are under enormous pressure from multiple directions, not least ongoing austerity, integration, devolution, the introduction of the Care Act, concerns about sustainability of providers, the sustainability of the health-care system more widely, as well as increasing expectations of people who use services. New solutions and approaches are needed in these complex times that respond to these pressures with increased effectiveness, creativity and innovation."

Warren Belcher, advanced social work practitioner, Hertfordshire, said:
"Having equal opportunities in the community is vital for all citizens and as social workers we must be able to practice in a way that upholds people's human rights in society." 

He continued, "The Great Leap project in Hertfordshire allowed us to do that. It reinforced the concept of social work and the responsibility it has to citizens. Our approach to practice is based on the foundations of social work values and is why we became social workers in the first place. We must listen and act to improve inclusion; we must increase wellbeing and champion all human rights. People tell us this is important to them. We can (if we allow ourselves as a profession) have an impact on assisting citizens with their own lives, supporting their own choices, it's in our own hands, heads and hearts. We have come a long way, but there is so much more to do and we can't wait to be a part of it."

Sue Bott, Deputy CEO at Disability Rights UK and National Co-production Advisory Group member, said:

"This guide is a chance for social work to reconnect with people who use services and their families to make common cause for better outcomes."

More information on this report can be found here
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