Health and Social Care
Social Work: A Recipe for the Future
As the professional leadership body for social work, Social Work Scotland has a clear role in supporting the profession as we move into integrated arrangements. Our approach to this has changed as we have become more attuned to what works and what people need.
Supported by Scottish Government funding, we have developed a number of projects and activities to ensure that social work plays an active role in getting integration right so that it delivers for the people who have health and care needs. By far and away the most effective thing we have done is to bring people together to discuss and overcome their own challenges. The idea that, with a change of this magnitude, someone has all the answers is wishful thinking; and the idea that we can provide toolkits and reports that will steer people in their own areas has major limitations.
People need the opportunity to learn from each other and spark off each other. That seems to be what works.
We discovered this with social workers and similarly, the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) had the same experience with nurses. So back in April, Rachel Cackett of the RCN and myself thought, why not do this together? Why not get social workers and nurses in a room and talk about the challenges of integration and how to overcome them.
And it worked. On 9 September we facilitated a workshop for 15 social workers and 15 nurses from across Scotland. Led by Fiona Cook and Mary Howden, our delegates used an appreciative enquiry model to work through the very real challenges they are under pressure to overcome.
They discovered they had lots of similarities in the shared outcomes they are striving for, for the people they support; the complexity of needs of people they are supporting; and also the creativity of individuals in approaching these challenges.
The differences were also interesting and included: the stage of integration that the different professions are at; communication and information systems; terms and conditions; and issues round co-location.
Although there is lots of work to do, what our workshop showed was that we have strong foundations on which to build. Of course we have practical issues about bringing groups of staff together; but we have a shared view of what we are all doing this for: the people that need our help and support.
For more information, please contact Jane Devine at Social Work Scotland.