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Named Social Worker: Summary of evaluation findings

Published: SCIE, Innovation Unit and York Consulting, July 2018

The impact of the Named Social Worker pilot

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) initiated the Named Social Worker (NSW) pilot to build an understanding of how a named social worker can help to improve outcomes for individuals with learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions. Phase 1 ran from October 2016 to March 2017 and Phase ran 2 from October 2017 to March 2018.

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and the Innovation Unit, worked with the six Phase 2 sites to assess the impact of the pilot on the individuals engaged in the pilot, the named social workers and the wider system. Three sites focused on transition cases while the other three worked with individuals who were from learning disability or Transforming Care cohorts.

This report draws from and summarises findings from the NSW Phase 2 programme evaluation report (SCIE) and NSW Cost Benefit Analysis (York Consulting). It is aimed at other local authorities or commissioners interested in learning how a NSW approach can improve outcomes, have a positive impact on social worker’s skills, confidence and motivation and reduce costs.

The report should be read alongside ‘Putting People at the Heart of Social Work’ (Innovation Unit) and ‘Stories of impact: a service user journey’ (Humanly).

Summary of key findings

Despite the short pilot timeframe, the evaluation evidence suggests that the NSW pilot had impact across three levels: on the individuals engaged in the pilot, on the named social workers themselves and on the wider system, as outlined below:

Impact on the individuals and the people around them

  • trusted relationships with people supported by services and those around them
  • increased and meaningful opportunities for people to shape their plans that respond to individual communication needs and preferences
  • new packages of support that better meet their strengths, aspirations and needs and those of the people around them
  • high levels of satisfaction reported including that people felt that the named social worker listened to them and acted on their behalf
  • evidence that people have been better able to live the lives they want including faster and smoother discharges, restrictive decisions overturned and greater stability of placements.

Impact on the named social workers

  • increased levels of skills, knowledge and confidence to do good social work e.g. the NSW survey found that confidence to meaningfully engage the person they are working with and those round them to deliver a person-centred plan increased from 47% to 94%
  • confidence to advocate for the people they work with and bring their voices to the fore e.g. the NSW survey found that confidence to constructively challenge other professionals/ services increased from 43% to 88%
  • higher levels of satisfaction with quality of work.

Impact on the wider system

  • evidence base of good social work in the local context and what it takes to put it into practice
  • evidence of reduced costs for packages of care
  • better cross-service coordination
  • supporting and complementing other strategic developments and policy areas locally
  • positive return on investment – a predictive financial return on investment (FROI) exercise suggested that the FROI of the NSW pilot was positive for all sites and generated a NSW FROI of 5.14, meaning that every £1 invested would anticipate a saving or costs avoided of £5.14. Of these costs avoided, 89% were anticipated to benefit the local authorities