Good practice in social care for refugees and asylum seekers
Pointers for good practice: Organisational foundations
Pointers for good practice in social care for asylum seekers and refugees
These pointers for good practice have been developed from a report that involved a systematic review of the literature and a practice survey, including the views of asylum seekers and refugees, social care providers and refugee and community organisations (see SCIE Report 31 Good practice in social care for refugees and asylum seekers).
Securing organisational commitment to promoting the wellbeing of asylum seekers and refugees, as an integral element of mainstream social care policies, is an important first step and will facilitate consideration of the specific needs of asylum seekers and refugees in policy and service developments.
Development of strong multi-agency partnerships
Multi-agency partnerships with a clear focus on asylum seekers and refugees, at both strategic and operational levels, will facilitate the development of access to appropriate social care provision. It is clear that the social care needs of asylum seekers and refugees are intertwined with needs in relation to health, housing, benefits, social support and, for children and young people, education and secure relationships.
See practice example: MARIM Manchester
A strategic approach
The development of a local strategy will enable local authorities, and their partners, to plan and develop services for current and future populations of asylum seekers and refugees, as well as other migrant populations. Strategy development should be based on a joint strategic needs assessment (JSNA), which local authorities and clinical commissioning groups have been under a statutory duty to produce since 1 April 2008. This will facilitate planning for changes in the population at a local, regional and national level and highlight the implications for staffing and service delivery (e.g. the development of culturally appropriate services or increasing numbers of older refugees).
Statutory guidance on joint strategic needs assessments and joint health and wellbeing strategies
See practice example: Nottingham City Joint Strategic Needs Assessment
Consider the application of existing policies that provide a framework for the provision of social care – particularly equality and diversity policies, the safeguarding agenda and the implementation of personalisation and integration policies.
Be clear about the outcomes to be achieved so that they drive the commissioning process and aim toward outcomes related to promoting well-being and tackling inequalities.
Acknowledge the contribution of voluntary and community sector initiatives, and the importance of sustainable investment to enable these organisations to build capacity.
Use evaluation tools to assess the impact of implementation on outcomes for asylum seekers and refugees
Involving asylum seekers and refugees
Involving refugee and community organisations and asylum seekers and refugees in the JSNA and related processes for service development and for provision is acknowledged good practice and the outcome will be more appropriate provision. The methods for this need to:
- reflect an understanding of the diversity of asylum seekers and refugees, their communities and differing needs
- include specific efforts to outreach and engage with asylum seekers and refugees with specific social care needs, relating to physical disability, learning disability, mental health and age
- pay specific attention to good practice in translating and interpreting
See section on Effective communication/Areas of suggested good practice
- include investment in capacity-building to participate
- find appropriate methods for recognising the contribution of refugees and asylum seekers and reimbursing expenses incurred in participation.
Workforce development is needed to ensure a focus on and expertise in relation to asylum seekers and refugees with specific social care needs. This includes:
- Local authority specialist teams with a focus on asylum seekers and refugees
- Engage specialist organisations for training and guidance
See practice example: Royal Borough of Kingston
- Training and supervision for social care providers and practitioners, to strengthen the capacity to respond positively to the diverse needs of asylum users and refugees by ensuring an understanding of:
- human rights and asylum seekers and refugees
- legislation and policy
- circumstances pre-and post-arrival
- asylum seeker and refugee perspectives
- processes of social exclusion
- health and social care needs of asylum seekers and refugees
- high-quality and culturally appropriate provision
- the role and contribution of refugee and community organisations and advocacy.
See Hill et al. (2009) ‘Inter-professional learning to prepare medical and social work students for practice with asylum seekers and refugees’, 3, 298−308. Social Work Education. This provides a description of inter-professional workshops for medical and social work students, as part of pre-qualification training.
- Training for senior officers, members and partners on Local Strategic Partnerships (as above)
- Training for refugee and community organisations ideally would be undertaken alongside social care providers to facilitate mutual understanding of roles and responsibilities. In addition there may be a need for training in relation to:
- Social care needs of asylum seekers and refugees:
- children and young people
- mental health awareness and strategies to tackle community stigma
- disabled people -older refugees
- specific needs of women, LGBT groups
- other specific needs (e.g. sensory impairment, learning disability), working with the victims of trafficking and working with the victims of torture.
- Role and function of social services departments.
- Eligibility for assessment and provision.
- Referral pathways to health and social services.
Monitoring and review
- Equalities monitoring is an essential component of performance monitoring and is required by equalities legislation, which includes a duty for public bodies to eliminate unlawful discrimination and promote equality of opportunity. Commissioners and social care providers need to ensure that current monitoring systems include asylum seekers and refugees to enable identification of inequalities in their access and experience of social care. For statutory providers, equalities monitoring will form part of an overarching strategy showing how it will progress the equalities and inclusion agenda.
- Assessing the extent to which positive outcomes are achieved will rest on having identified clear outcomes either for a service or for an individual. The assessment process could take the form of consultation with refugee organisations or other feedback methods, including the routine use of appropriate questionnaires.