As I have indicated both on twitter and in my blog, I will be leaving my post as Chief Social Work Adviser in April next year. I believe that after four years in this post, it is time for someone with recent field experience to bring fresh thinking to this post at a time when the role of the sector has never been so vital. This however, is not the right time to be reflective, as I intend to make further progress on a number of fronts over the next few months and, as you will read, the last couple of weeks has seen no reduction on the demands on my time over the past two weeks. Details of the post can be found here.
Turning Point Scotland was the focus of a day of visits in Glasgow. An organisation which continues to grow and develop over nineteen years through the leadership of Netta McIvor and more recently Martin Cawley, who recently left to take up the post of Chief Executive of Big Lottery Scotland. Neil Richardson OBE, former Deputy Chief Constable will take the reins in January as Chief Executive. Our day with TPS provided a tremendous learning opportunity in relation to the Drug Crisis Centre and their approach to homelessness, underpinned by Citizenship and the strong commitment to the 5R`s: Rights, Responsibilities, Roles, Relationships, Resources and the sense of belonging.
This innovative model for community integration and social inclusion was developed by the Yale Programme for recovery and Community Health. These 5 critical components were exemplified by volunteers, Craig and Collette whose lives and families have been transformed by the Turning Point Connects Programme. Thank you to both of them for being prepared to share their journey with us. TPS are now building Citizenship into the culture of the organisation. It will be interesting to revisit TPS over the next couple of years to follow developments!
Even in the wind, rain and a bumpy landing, it is always a pleasure to visits the islands of Orkney and Shetland. It is two years since I last visited but in this relatively short time both islands are facing up to the challenges of integration, both have appointed their Chief Officers (IJBs) and both have new CSWOs. Each continues to face up to the challenges of recruitment and it was refreshing to see so many newly qualified social workers in Shetland – products of their `grow your own` policies`. I was delighted to speak with the newly reformed Local Practitioner Forum on the Strategy for Social Services in Scotland.
In Lerwick we were pleased to visit the award winning children`s house, complete with their recent award from SIRCC as Residential Team of the Year SIRCC. Flight times unfortunately did not allow us the opportunity to stay and meet with the young people, but it was good to hear of their strong connection with Who Cares Scotland.
By the skin of my teeth I managed to reach Glasgow in time to join Angela Morgan, Chief Executive of Includem and their HR Director, Michelle Nairn, who had been shortlisted for HR Director of the Year Award at the Scottish HR Network Awards. Michelle`s inclusion in the final shortlist of three was a major achievement at what was a night dominated by the private sector. Congratulations Michelle!
Not to be outdone, Scottish Care held their Annual Care Home conference and awards last week. It was Chief Executive Donald Mcaskill`s first Care Home awards since taking over from the irrepressible Ranald Mair. As always staff celebrated in some style in the capable hands of Michelle McManus – no one better to handle such an occasion!
My attendance at the awards was preceded by a visit to HC1`s Greenpark Home in Glasgow. Meeting staff and residents is always a pleasure as is hearing stories of Glasgow`s past! Greenfield Park is a unique set-up with Intermediate care, continuing care, residential care and a unit for adults who have been affected by sustained substance abuse. An important focus for the visit was career pathways for staff and the opportunity to ensure developmental opportunities, which Greenfield Park have worked hard to achieve to the benefits of residents and staff.
On Monday I opened a practitioner engagement event in Glasgow facilitated by my office, focussing on the knowledge and improvement cycle and how this can be applied to bring about transformational change. John Carnochan, formerly of the Violence Reduction Unit, delivered an inspirational keynote address reminding us that it’s people and attitudes, particularly their willingness to enquire and challenge established practice, that make a real difference, and that change shouldn’t be held back by being afraid of failure. Discussions were facilitated on the day by knowledge and improvement leads from IRISS, NHS, Scottish Government, and the Improvement Service. Knowledge exchange sessions saw input from CELCIS, IRISS, SSKS, Improvement Service and Care Opinion. The Scottish Government’s Ann Wales and Belinda Robertson, along with presentations from East-Ayrshire’s Chief Social Work Officer, Susan Taylor, as well as Kristina Moodie from the Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice, and research consultant Ailsa Cook, provided perspectives and live examples of using knowledge into action and research to improve and transform services.
Finally – it was a pleasure to participate in the Renfrewshire Council social work staff conference last Friday. An opportunity to meet up with Director of Children`s Services, Peter MacLeod and staff, to look at the current challenges and implications for the sector including the recently published Account Commission report `Social Work in Scotland`
More from Talking Social Services in a fortnight when I will be reflecting on visits to Aberdeenshire Council, a private nursing home in Edinburgh and meeting up with Alzheimer’s Scotland.
Until then, best of luck with the Christmas shopping!