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Government sets out ‘essential’ role of social work in integrated services

Social workers have an “essential” role to play in integrated services in upholding people’s rights, coordinating support and challenging other professionals, but need support from senior management to make this a reality.

That was the message from an advice note issued yesterday by the Department of Health, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and the Adults Principal Social Workers Network.

The paper emphasised the importance of the social model of disability sitting alongside the medical model in integrated health and social care services and that social workers were essential to making this happen.

Social work’s contribution

It said that social work brought the following skills to integrated teams:

  • strengths-based practice that focuses on what individuals can do and mobilies community resources to support and protect them;
  • the ability to coordinate support around the person and remove bureaucratic barriers to people receiving the support they want;
  • a risk enabling, rather than a risk averse approach, that supports people to make their own decisions;
  • knowledge of legal frameworks, including the Mental Capacity Act and Mental Health Act, and how to apply them in individual situations;
  • constructive challenge to other professionals in relation to upholding people’s rights;

The note was drawn up on the back of an event last year for directors of adult social services and PSWs, held by chief social worker for adults Lyn Romeo. It is chiefly targeted at directors and PSWs to help them realise the contribution of social workers to making integrated health and social care services work.

Tips for managers

The paper set out a number of tips for senior managers in realising social workers’ contribution to integration. These included:

  • that the social work contribution to the integrated service must be clear and communicated to staff at all levels;
  • that practitioners receive professional leadership and social work supervision.
  • senior support for social work within the service, including the presence of senior managers with a social work background.
  • communicating good news stories about social work’s contribution around the service.
  • performance monitoring based on personal outcomes for people rather than quantitative data, which is more likely to highlight the social work contribution.

In a blog to launch the paper, Romeo said she hoped the note would inform local and regional integrated initiatives.

Learn more about social work’s contribution

You can learn more about social work’s contribution to integration at the forthcoming Community Care Live Manchester, in a session led by Adult PSW Network chairs Mark Harvey and Rob Mitchell. Check out the full programme and register now for your free place.