I have had some brilliant meetings and visits over the last few weeks, all of which continue to affirm my belief in excellent social work and the great social workers playing a vital role in making people’s lives better.
I visited social workers in Northumberland who are a part of the council and health trust and are demonstrating authentic approaches to providing integrated responses and experiences to the people who live in their beautiful county.
I spent the morning with a group of women with learning disabilities and social workers who were evaluating their work together to improve safeguarding and health and wellbeing for themselves and their carers.
I was bowled over by the communication, engagement and relationship building skills of the social workers and the way in which their work was empowering and enabling the women they worked with to have control and choice over how they lived their lives.
The work the council and the NHS trust have done to embed the support for newly qualified social workers through their Assessed and Supported Year of Employment (ASYE) is delivering confident skilled professionals who really are raising the bar for quality social work.
The Director, lead member and senior managers are providing leadership for great social work at a strategic level and professional leadership is mirrored at all levels within the organisations especially from frontline social workers.
Although often seen as the minor player in the NHS dominated health and social care world, social care and social workers are net exporters of values and personalised, outcomes-based practice to achieve the maximum benefit for people.
Earlier that week, I spoke at a London regional event on social work and end of life care and the contribution social workers can and do make to supporting people to have choice and control over the support and arrangements they need and want. The core values, knowledge and skills social workers use when working with people at this most difficult and challenging time for individuals and their families is the essence of our work.
I was also privileged to speak and meet with social workers, social work students, educators and researchers from all over Europe at the European Research Institute for social work conference at the University of Hertfordshire. Better integrating theory, practice and research evidence is imperative. There is interesting research and evidence gathering going on to demonstrate the difference social workers and the interventions they use can make across the world!
The students were very keen to be involved in research and it is essential we as a profession support research and evidence minded practice - sustaining this intellectual curiosity in the social workers of tomorrow will enhance our practice for the future. On which point, yesterday I had a really stimulating day debating with over 100 students from Bradford College and University of Huddersfield with much discussion around our knowledge and skills statement consultation and the future of social work.
I recently wrote to new students joining social work qualifying programmes. They are the future and we must ensure the optimum conditions for their practice to flourish are in place.