The argument for greater investment in social work has intensified as public sector budgets are squeezed and as health and social care are integrated to better meet people’s needs. A new report by The College of Social Work (TCSW) – Social Work with Adults: What does the Future Hold? – provides detailed evidence showing how good quality adult social work is essential to provide the best and most cost-effective care for vulnerable people.
Chair of The College of Social Work Jo Cleary said: “We see social work as part of the solution. There is a pivotal role for social work in responding to rising needs, diminishing resources and – most importantly – enabling people to live as active citizens in their own communities. “Social work is about promoting choice and control but we know also that it must be effective and affordable.”
The TCSW report draws on case studies and contributions to The College’s successful Summit last December on the future of social work with adults. As part of TCSW’s Business Case for social work with adults, it provides further evidence of how investing now in social work can save costs later.
It argues that social workers have the specific skills to support people to live independently for longer as part of their communities, to make their own decisions about how they want to live their lives, and to reduce the requirement for intensive care and support, either from local authority social care or the NHS.
The report shows that social work not only makes a unique professional contribution to the lives of service users but has significant financial value too. The report sets out how The College will continue to build an evidence base in support of the specialist skills and role of adult social work. It sets out how The College is supporting active collaboration between social workers and general practitioners (GPs).
The report calls on social worker employers to realise the important role they have to play in ensuring their staff are supported and trained to undertake new roles, especially in the light of the new Care Act. Jo Cleary said: “The Care Act can unshackle social workers from care management, to build relationships and revitalise their creativity to link people into their local communities”
“This report details how The College is actively demonstrating the social and financial worth of adult social work. We hope that social workers, commissioners and employers will find this report useful to help them quantify the value of their adults social workers and demonstrate how investing in them promotes quality and cost-effectiveness.
“Not utilising the capabilities and expertise of social workers is a false economy. Good social work professional leadership, both on the frontline and at management level, is crucial in driving forward health and social care integration. Social workers are very well qualified and positioned to contribute with GPs and other professionals in realising the ambitions of the Care Act.”
Association of Directors of Adults Social Services (ADASS) workforce Chair, Joan Beck, said: “Investment in social work with adults is essential as we respond to rising demand in the context of diminishing resources. As social workers move away from care management, their unique skills will increasingly be needed to support people to live independently in their own communities.”
Kings Fund Assistant Director, Policy, Richard Humphries said: “As we enter a new era in the integration of health and social care, the importance of professional social work – for example in assessing and coordinating care and support across organisational boundaries – has never been greater. Social work should be at the forefront of renewed efforts to ensure joined-up, person-centred care – integration won’t work without its strong and distinctive contribution.”
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Summit Clinic
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