Shaping the voice and values of social work

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In our latest update from Leeds Adult Social Care Services leadership team, Shona McFarlane, Chief Officer for Access and Care Delivery, shares her thoughts on what it will take to provide outstanding social care.

Leeds has aspirations to be the best city in which to grow old. Add to this the focus on having a strong economy and a being a compassionate city and we have a great foundation for providing really effective social care services.

We have an amazing range of community services, both provided and commissioned and an outstanding third sector. It is also clear that people in Leeds have a huge commitment to volunteering and contributing to their local community but one area we need to develop a better focus on is personalised and person centred services.

We know that adult social care services have been somewhat protected within the financial challenges faced by councils over the last few years. The increase in the number of older and disabled people, combined with continuing tight budgets, means we need to support people to stay independent for longer and use resources available in their own families and communities rather than relying on directly provided care at the earliest stage in their journey. This fits with what people tell us; that they want to live at home for as long as possible and they want to be able to do things with friends and family where they live.

The Better Lives Strategy so far has focused on the way in which services are delivered, reducing in-house residential and some day care services, developing new models of care such as Aspire Community Benefit Society – a way of supporting people with learning disabilities, and building on the neighbourhood networks which are a real jewel in our crown.

We are starting to see a clear shift in our social work to build on this foundation. There are some real strengths around risk management, responding to crisis and the way we approach the legal side of our work. But that’s not all social workers need to do – we have an ambition to deliver truly outstanding social work and that means working with people in a very different way.

Have fun while the sun shines!

Social workers need to be at the forefront of making Leeds a compassionate city; helping people to find and make the best use of the resources and strengths available within their communities, advocating for people’s human rights and aspirations, offering direct payments enabling them to have increasing choice and control over their care. It is also about working with people to help them to make a contribution themselves, perhaps through volunteering, sharing their skills and experience with others, not simply for them to be seen as just people in need of care and support.

The challenge however is to create the ambition and transform both what we as social workers do and how we do it. Starting soon, social workers will be involved in shaping the voice and values of social work in Leeds. This will focus on building trusting, meaningful relationships and having different conversations that start with the people we work with and keep them at the heart of everything we do.

Nationally the leadership of the profession may be at a crossroads with the closing of the College of Social Work and the recent announcement of a new regulatory body for the profession, but locally we can develop a clear vision and plan to deliver truly outstanding social work.

Shona McFarlane

About betterlivesleeds

Health, social and age-related care services working together to make Leeds the best city for health and wellbeing
This entry was posted in Choice, Dignity in care, Independence, Personalisation, Transforming care services, volunteering, Working together and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Shaping the voice and values of social work

  1. Elizabeth Guest says:

    Nice sentiments, but the reality falls far short. My last experience showed no empathy or compassion: council employees just keep repeating they were just doing their job.

    I am disabled, want to work and strongly object to being pushed into destitution by a system that insists on treating me as if I was housebound and nearing the end of my life.

    For me, support from friends and family is not realistic. I am autistic and need help to build a social life.

    Adult social care urgently needs effective training so they better understand autism.

    • Thank you for commenting Elizabeth. Sorry to hear about your experience, clearly that isn’t what we would like to have happened. Sometimes we don’t get it quite right and this was one of those occasions, so apologies.

      Your feedback will be used in the social work team development that we mentioned in the blog to help illustrate that how we do things; including people in their care planning and how people feel is just as important as what we do with and for people. We will contact you by email to discuss this further.

  2. Robert Jones says:

    Well said Elizabeth. Nothing is perfect and we need to strive for better support opportunities. Why not try joining one of the support groups on ‘Facebook’ if you hadn’t already done so? Thankfully the future for those “on the Spectrum” is changing (even if a bit slowly!) thanks to better Education and support networks. However nationally some of these are in danger owing to current “Austerity cuts” from Central Government. The answer has to be to reinforce “Local” developments and growing more support Networks. Good luck to you.

  3. Tim Sanders says:

    This feels like a real challenge, because social work has struggled to keep its professional identity over the past 15-20 years. It feels like the work has become increasingly focussed on whether the person being assessed meets the eligibility criteria. I’m sure social workers will want to work differently, and welcome this approach, and we have a strong group of Team Managers and SDMs to lead it, but it’s still a culture change. We might, paradoxically, have to shift the focus away from eligibility criteria in order to spend less money.

    • Thanks for your thoughts Tim and this is welcome feedback. This change is about exactly that – reclaiming social work from being about assessment and care management and moving towards an outcomes focused approach – I am sure that Leeds is up for it > SM

  4. Pingback: Leeds’ progress as an integrated care pioneer – Rebecca Charlwood

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