January – A Time to Plan

All of a sudden the celebrations of Christmas and New Year seem like a distant memory as we reach the end of January and face the challenges of 2016.  It would be easy to paint a negative and downbeat picture given the current financial position and the changes facing  the sector in Scotland.  However what I see and hear in my discussions and visits, is a continuing determination to deliver high quality services to those who need it most.

One of my frustrations in my role as Chief Social Work Adviser, has been one of limited capacity to more effectively support my policy colleagues in Scottish Government and well as supporting the sector more widely.  I am therefore delighted to welcome Jane Johnstone to our team as Professional Social Work Adviser.  Jane recently retired from North Lanarkshire Council where she was a Community Social Work Manager.  She has been in social work for 31 years in Strathclyde and North Lanarkshire Councils and whilst her early experience was in Children and Families, the locality model in North Lanarkshire has provided Jane and Scottish Government with a rich generic experience.  Jane is particularly interested in outcome focussed work in relation to assessment and planning and outside of the work setting she enjoys the gym and travelling.  Jane will be working on a flexible part time basis and will provide professional advice to SG colleagues on a range of issues, this could include for example, Adult Support and Protection, Self Directed Support, Carers and Mental Health.  Jane can be contacted at jane.johnstone@gov.scot

Over the next few weeks Jane will be speaking at two front line engagement events for Occupational Therapists which take place on the 2 February at the Carnegie Conference Centre in Dunfermline and on the 16 February at the Beardsmore Hotel, Clydebank. To book a place just email us at OCSWA@gov.scot

scottish careJane and the Minister for Children & Young People will also be attending Scottish Care’s “Voices from the Frontline Event” on 3 February at the Renfield Centre in Bath St, Glasgow.   It will be focusing on recruitment and retention and is therefore very closely connected to the workforce strand of the Social Services Strategy.

Talking of key dates, the University of Dundee will be holding a one day conference for final year students and newly qualified social workers on Friday 26 February in Dundee. This follows on from a successful event last year at GCU attended by 150 students and NQSWs.  Further details on how to book via  eventbrite

On the theme of planning, my team are beginning to plan a further round of engagement events for frontline staff during the course of 2016. This year I am looking at the potential for a number of themed events including on community justice and the protection of children. These events will also provide updates on the actions which support the Social Services Strategy for Scotland. I expect to see considerable progress during this calendar year as the plan moves into its second year.cover

I am currently planning my visits for this year. Visits over the last three years have provided terrific opportunities to hear from staff,  service users and carers about what matters to them as well as providing opportunities to see and hear about best practice. Please let me know if you would like me to come out to your project, team or service. You can contact me at :  alan.baird@gov.scot

I will be away from the office for the next three weeks or so but the blog and I will both be back at the end of February.