Right now, it’s a good time to be a social worker. In these times of austerity and uncertainty, I’ll concede, this might seem like a slightly incongruous statement to make, but bear with me.
This year, I’m attending the National Children and Adult Services Conference (NCAS) feeling more confident than ever in the growing importance and influence of modern social work within the health and care system.
It’s taken a while, but - with our increasing role within multi-disciplinary health and care teams, evolving specialisms in mental health, autism, learning disabilities and dementia, and our focus on education and accreditation - social work is getting the recognition it deserves. This recognition is built on our understanding of people, their families and the environments within which they live, our values and human rights, strengths based practice, working alongside people to enable them to have better lives.
That’s why I’m delighted to be hosting two ‘meet and greet’ sessions in the Department of Health Lounge (E30) where we’ll be celebrating and sharing partnerships and innovations in 21st Century social work.
First up, on Thursday 3 November (12.15 - 1.15pm) I’m joined by Carers UK with whom I’m really looking forward to discussing how best we can support carers in a society where families and communities are becoming increasingly complex and diverse.
Later that day (3.15 - 3.45pm) I’m pleased to welcome Rob Mitchell and Mark Harvey, co-chairs of the National Adult Principal Social Worker Network and Elaine James, Strategic Commissioning Manager for Calderdale Council. Together, they’ll be explaining how ‘PSWs can help lead and deliver high quality social work practice based on the core values of social work and human rights.’
I’m very pleased this session will also incorporate a Q&A on the recently launched named social worker pilots, two of which are already underway in Rob and Elaine’s council, Calderdale and Mark’s council, Hertfordshire. These pilots will focus on supporting people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions.
The pilots present a real opportunity to realise the vision set out in the Government’s response to the No voice unheard, no right ignored consultation and to contribute to lasting improvement in the care and support provided to people and families in need.
The pilots are running in six areas: Calderdale, Camden, Hertfordshire, Liverpool, Nottingham and Sheffield. It’s a fantastic opportunity to constructively challenge clinical teams as they seek to make decisions about a person’s care and support. More importantly, the individuals and families we are tasked to help will receive the benefit of our person-centred approach, whether they are living in clinical or community environments. Join Rob, Mark, Elaine and myself in the DH Lounge to find out more.
That’s not all I’m doing at this year’s conference. I’m really looking forward to facilitating an evening fringe meeting (5.45 – 7.15pm) with NHS Digital and SCIE: ‘How can the social work role be supported now and in the future through IT?’
And the theme continues as I round off the conference (Friday 4 November 11.30am – 12.30pm) with a session on Social Work in the 21st Century where I’ll be joined by ADCS President Dave Hill and ADASS President Elect Margaret Willcox. Among other things, we’ll be discussing ‘how councils can create the conditions in which social work can thrive in the face of persistently rising demand, diminishing budgets and increased casework complexity.’
So a lot to discuss and debate, but one thing is certain – social work will be at the heart of the care and support conversation at NCAS this year and I’ll be making sure our voice is heard. See – and hear – you there!