Practice development: collaborative working in social care

Policy context

This is a time of rapid and radical change in social care. The roles and expectations of social care professionals are subject to change and it is important that organisations value and empower their workforce by including them in the change process.

Personalisation and the provision of personal budgets aim to change the power balance and use of resources in social care. Putting people first (HM Government, 2007) proposes social care reform which is ‘co-produced, co-developed and co-evaluated’. It is vital, therefore, that change management and improvement programmes take place in this context with citizens who use, or may use, services at the heart of development. The knowledge of front-line practitioners will be central to the change process.

There has been some concern about the professional role of the social worker being undermined by the implications of creating more personalised services, but people have also argued that social work could have the opportunity to reaffirm and clarify its role. There is now the potential for social workers to move away from gatekeeping and resource management to advocacy and support tasks. A preliminary piece of research looking at the implications of self-directed support concluded that ‘some social workers view the personalisation developments as an opportunity for them to return to the traditional social work role of enabling vulnerable people to achieve their potential. However, this is not what more recently qualified staff have been trained to do and competition for scarce social work skills is likely’ (Henwoodnd Grove, 2006). In other words, workers who have acquired skills that are more managerial in type may find transition to ways of working in personalised services, with self-assessment and self-directed support, more challenging.

(SCIE, 2008, p 16)

Collaborative projects offer a mechanism for supporting the transformation of social care through the involvement of citizens in the identification of areas for change, and of the workforce in the identification of barriers, solutions, and training and development needs.

SCIE resources that may support and inform your work in this area

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