https://lynromeo.blog.gov.uk/2014/08/15/accentuating-the-positive-in-difficult-times-social-work-at-its-best/

Accentuating the positive in difficult times – social work at its best

One of the best things about this job is that I get to travel across the length and breadth of England to meet social workers, social work managers, students and educators.

This combines my love of train travel with the buzz of meeting social workers who, day in day out, work hard to apply their professional practice to make a difference to people lives.

Last week, I was in Rochdale and met with the leader of the council, the Director of Adult Social Services, and a large group of social workers in adult services. They are all fully engaged in putting good practice at the heart of working with individuals, families and communities, helping them to live better lives.

The enthusiasm and passion for great social work, working within the constraints faced by local authorities as they try to meet the needs of the population with the resources available, was striking. Too often, places like Rochdale only ever get bad publicity when things go wrong and quite frankly, suffer from the ‘grim up north’ stereotyping. This unfairly diminishes the resilience and strength in those communities and the collaborative, solution focused team work across the health, local government and community sectors.

These are challenging times for adult social work, with more people needing support and councils facing tough budgetary challenges. I was bowled over by the positive attitude of social workers in Rochdale to meet the challenge head on.

During my visit to the Social Workers’ Forum I found out about the work they do through a presentation by social worker Jelilat Ajani, who has just finished her first year in the job.

I heard about her work with older people at the end of their life. The feedback from a family of an older couple she had recently been working with truly showed social work with adults at its best. She applied the principles of the Mental Capacity Act brilliantly, which resulted in sensitive and empowering care for the elderly couple with whom she was working - on which point…

'As social workers, we intersect with so many other areas of the care and support system, placing us in a unique position to raise awareness of the MCA amongst colleagues and those beyond our profession.'
'As social workers, we intersect with so many other areas of the care and support system, placing us in a unique position to raise awareness of the MCA amongst colleagues and those beyond our profession.'

The Mental Capacity Act and social workers
I recently wrote to all social workers praising them for the time, energy and resources they put into demonstrating the fundamental principles of the Mental Capacity Act, whilst also calling for more examples of best practice.
You can read it in full here:

Lyn Romeo letter - MCA and the vital role of social workers - August 2014 (PDF)

This commitment to the tenets of the Act has already achieved great improvements in the support and protection of the most vulnerable members of our society. As social workers, we intersect with so many other areas of the care and support system, placing us in a unique position to raise awareness of the MCA amongst colleagues and those beyond our profession.

The Government’s response to the House of Lords report into the effectiveness of the Act was published in June and if you haven’t yet read it, I urge you to do so now. More than that, I want to know what you are doing in your area to promote the principles of the MCA, but also your thoughts and suggestions on what more could be done. Don’t be afraid to be radical!

Please email me your experiences, views and concerns to: chiefsocialworkerforadults@dh.gsi.gov.uk by 12 September 2014. Your opinions matter and will help me support you more effectively as we work together to change even more lives for the better.

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