Celebrity Social Services

With the Vision and Strategy for Social Services successfully launched by Acting Minister, Fiona McLeod MSP and Easter just a memory, attention turns to the implementation of its recommendations.  Work is underway to prioritise the actions and allow progress to be made under each of the four strands.  It will be vital that, with cross sector support, work begins before the next meeting of the Strategic Forum in June.  It is of course a 5 year strategy but early progress is essential to ensure momentum is built.  I will use Talking Social Services to keep you posted.

World Social Work Day was a day of celebration culminating with the Scottish Association of Social Workers awards ceremony at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh.  Congratulations to all the award winners who enjoyed their celebrations and selfies with Glasvegas who to the delight of the audience played to an excited Minister and somewhat star struck Scottish SASW Manager – now to be known affectionately as Geraldine!   Other social work worthies who joined the queue for a snap with the band included the SSSC Chief Executive, former Director of Social Work in North Ayrshire and SCRA Glasvegas 17 03 2015 2board member, Bernadette Docherty and yours truly!

Since my last blog Scotland has now fully embraced health and social care integration with partnerships having worked extremely hard to submit their integration schemes to the Scottish Government for approval. There is no doubt that this is a challenging time for local authorities, health boards, third sector organisations and the independent sector.  Changes in structures, financial pressures, changes in the workforce all leads to some exciting but demanding challenges.  It is a theme I picked up last week at the BASPCAN ( British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect ) Congress in Edinburgh attended by 800 delegates including 200 overseas visitors.  In my keynote address I highlighted the importance of increased vigilance at this time of change in relation to some of our most vulnerable children, bearing in mind the impact of health and social care integration reaches far beyond adult and older people services.  This was picked up by the Cabinet Secretary at the recent Leadership Summit on Children’s Services and in the Care Inspectorate’s overview report on child protection published in November last year. Our ageing workforce and changes in structure are resulting in the loss of rich experience including Chief Executives, Chief Social Work Officers and senior education and health posts.  It highlights both the importance of effective succession planning and that systems and processes remain robust during this period. An important time to listen to the views of Scotland`s frontline staff, who may feel particularly vulnerable!

You will now be aware of the outcome from the Edinburgh City Council social work staff appeal against their conviction for Contempt of Court. The comments from judges reflected the undoubted need for compliance of court and hearing decisions but importantly pointed to the importance of professional judgement to help protect some of Scotland`s most vulnerable children.

Over the last few weeks I have continued on my journeys around Scotland listening and learning about practice developments and the challenges currently facing organisations. During the past four weeks I have visited Barnardo’s , Moray and North Lanarkshire Councils.  Highlights of the visits included meeting with staff at Maybank, Forres – a residential unit for adults with challenging behaviour. I was full of admiration listening to staff talking about their skills, the challenges and attention to detail required in caring for adults with very complex needs and the positive difference being made to the lives of residents.  I spent an afternoon with Barnardos 16+ project in Edinburgh.  It is an aftercare service provided on behalf of Edinburgh City Council and supports transition for care leavers to independent living and supported accommodation.  It is always refreshing to meet highly motivated staff groups who have the involvement of young people as core to the development of services.

I enjoyed a very engaging meeting with senior housing and social work managers in North Lanarkshire who have for many years been leaders in early intervention and more personalised approaches.  I was given a demonstration of Making Life Easier website which is an online service offering advice, information and direct access to simple pieces of equipment.  If you are thinking about going down the this route then well worth speaking to North Lanarkshire!  Supporting and recognising staff’s achievements is something the sector needs to work hard at.  I was therefore delighted to be part of an informal recognition of staff in housing and social work who had been recognised by managers and peers for going the extra mile.  Each member of staff either individually or as part of a bigger team had demonstrated a high level of commitment which had made a considerable positive contribution to the lives of individuals. Let`s see more of that approach across Scotland!

I would like to draw your attention to the first frontline practitioner event of the year at which the Minister and I will be listening to the views of staff.  The event will be held at the Apex Hotel, Waterloo Place, Edinburgh on Thursday 14 May.  Further information on the event and how to book can be found here on our webpages.http://www.gov.scot/Topics/People/social-services-workforce

I look forward to meeting you there.

Finally IRISS have joined up with Guardian Social Care to ask social service workers in Scotland about the current demands. It is a Scottish survey and details can be found athttp://www.iriss.org.uk/news/view-here-survey-aims-understand-experiences-attitudes-and-views-scottish-social-services-workf