Last week I wrote a response, or my views, in relation to the Dispatches programme “Undercover: Inside Britain’s Children’s Services”. I highlighted the need for a review of Children’s Services but challenged the way in which the Government is going about implementing such changes from a top down approach that, and I remain of this view, does and will not work. My view is that this can be best achieved by seeking advice and guidance from those who work in front-line services on a daily basis. I believe this is the only (and right way) to make change for the better.
Firstly, let me make it clear here – I am not a journalist and I am not an academic. However, what I do possess is front-line experience and knowledge base as a social worker and practice manager within Children’s Services (Social Services & Youth Justice Services). I have been in this sector for over a decade. I have managed countless staff – from Probation Officers, Social Workers, Support Workers and Student Social Workers. Therefore, I believe that my views, are pretty close to those within practice.
However, today I am going to go out of my comfort zone and talk about Adult Services – the forgotten cousin of social work practice. The general public can almost be forgiven for thinking that social work is exclusively for Children’s Services. As we know, it does not!
My concern is this: Adult Services are significantly under resourced. They have been for the entirety of my professional career. Their budget is significantly less when compared to Children’s Services. The knock on effect of this – a very high threshold for service involvement and front-line staff being stretched too thinly to complete effective intervention delivery for those assessed as requiring support.
Surely everyone knows we are an ageing population – living for longer due to excellent health care provisions (although I am concerned for how long this will remain!) and an increased awareness and identification of emotional well-being and mental health issues in adults. As a social work profession, what-ever area of expertise or field you may be in, the only way we will promote change for the better, for Adults and Children, is if we stick together as one and not pockets of individual services. We must advocate and support each other – let us use our core social work values and beliefs, which work so well in supporting societies most vulnerable, to assist our profession. Let us utilise the techniques and skills we have been taught to protect another vulnerable member of society – the Social Worker, whether in Adult Services or Children’s Services!