In praise of 'access to named social worker' pilots
As social workers our job is to support, empower and protect the most vulnerable individuals and families in our communities.
As well as being able to challenge decisions about a person’s care or treatment, we have a responsibility to articulate our expert view with confidence and professionalism.
We do this to ensure we are alongside people, in partnership, empowering them to have control over their care and support. This has to be from a position of independence and authority to enable us to challenge decisions made by clinicians and social care colleagues on the health and wellbeing of others.
Last year, the Government’s response to the ‘No voice unheard, no right ignored’ consultation for people with autism, learning disabilities and mental health conditions made this approach a priority for all of us working across health and care.
A consequence of this renewed focus was a commitment to pilot access to named social workers for individuals, families and their carers. In these pilots, social workers will provide professional advice and support, not just to those with health and social care needs, but to other individuals and services making up the network of care.
It’s a model I wholeheartedly endorse as it draws upon the established values, knowledge, skills and ethics of social work - holistic, person-centred and proactive in co-opting awareness and support from other services.
The aim must always be to support people to lead as fulfilling and independent lives as they can, and have the support to make choices that are right for them. This is true for all those we seek to help, not just those living with autism and other cognitive conditions.
The pilot schemes are already demonstrating great progress, with areas like Portsmouth rolling out the named social worker model across their integrated learning disability teams and seeing great benefits. Other areas are already considering how named social workers can be developed as part of their transforming care plans.
Our profession is fortunate to have the skills to support individuals with complex care needs. The named social worker programme is an opportunity to demonstrate the difference that good quality, citizenship and outcome focused social work practice can make in supporting people to have the best lives possible.
The Department of Health is welcoming expressions of interest from areas and organisations, including local authorities and Transforming Care Partnerships, wishing to participate in the pilot scheme. For more information, please email Debbie.Goulding@dh.gsi.gov.uk, Learning Disability Policy Team, Department of Health by Monday 18 July.