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Thursday, 24 April 2014

Only social workers qualified to do client assessments, says BASW

A report from the Audit Commission which says the funding gap in adult social care could be met by using staff who are not fully trained to complete client assessments and reviews, instead of fully qualified social workers, has been criticised by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW).

The report, ‘Reducing the costs of assessments and reviews’, is the third in a series of Audit Commission briefings looking at how councils and their partners can get better value for money in adult social care.

It suggests that some £300m could be saved if this approach were adopted, and claims that, while some local authorities pay £2,200 for each assessment, some spend much less – about £800, typically by employing staff who are less specialised in the area.

The BASW insists that this approach “risks causing more problems than it would solve, and doesn’t acknowledge the professional expertise that social workers develop in their training. The organisation has campaigned for a while to protect the interests of some of the UK’s most vulnerable clients by ensuring that only staff with proper qualifications conduct vital work such as client assessments. The BASW is concerned that the recent recommendations from the Audit Commission could represent a move away from this principle.

It said: “If you want someone to be engaged in a discussion about their needs and their strengths, to be helped to come to terms with any difficulties, and be part of a process with carers and family to enable them to receive good support in the physical and emotional as well as the practical areas of their life - you need a qualified social worker.”

The association says it is not against restructuring service delivery where this improves things for those who use social work services, or reduces bureaucracy, but stresses that this should not mean the sacrifice of quality or professionalism. It adds: “Social workers, not accountants, should make decisions on assessments.”

“We worry that some local authority employers who need to save money in the face of cuts will have a knee-jerk reaction and put social work posts in danger. We hope that employers who want the best for their service users will not be interpreting this report to mean they should reduce numbers of social workers but will, as many have done up to now, continue to keep these vital frontline posts. You cannot entrust the care of vulnerable people to administrative staff.”

The comments from the BASW have highlighted the importance of social work qualifications and training. Social care is a graduate profession. To do a social care job you will need either an honours or postgrad degree approved by the General Social Care Council in England. The diploma in social work and similar previous qualifications are still recognised as valid.

Whatever stage you’re at, if you’re looking to take the next step, logging on to Staffnurse.com, with its care job index of nearly 3,000 posts, is a smart career move.

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