'Doing more of the same wont work' (Changing Lives: 21st Century Overview of Social Work, Scottish Executive 2006) Why is this? Consult with reference to some of the challenges that face social work in Scotland today. The role of your social worker has become a 'grey area' and subsequently undergone necessary scrutiny to determine what needs to be done to enhance the use of a social personnel time, the relationships built between your service users and providers, as well as how to adjust to and cater to the service users complex and challenging needs. It became particularly relevant in 2004, when Scottish Ministers registered the necessity for change, and put together a 'challenging brief' asking William Roe to chair the 21st Century Social Work Review. This review asked those involved to question all areas of social work, and to examine what could be achieved to fundamentally change, and increase the work of the social worker, and the successive result that had on the service users. It became apparent that once we are living in an ever changing society, 'social work itself needs to change such that it can match our country's expectations for high quality, accessible, responsive and personalised services. '
There were many factors that instigated the need for change, and reasons why this review came to fruition. The demands for change are actually so important partly due to the media coverage that has show major gaps and careless work from social workers. In some cases, social workers have stood by, acting only when an incident occurs, rather than avoiding it from happening. This becomes clear regarding Miss X, as it highlights that 'Caseloads for social workers in community care in both offices worried about the Ms X case were around 70, while one had a caseload of over 100, and another had more than 120 cases. ' It also states that 'A study by the Scottish Executive this past year had revealed that Scottish Borders Council social workers had the best caseloads of any authority in Scotland. ' The situation of Baby P, know regarded as Peter Connelly, is another example of what some might call neglect by the social services. Interestingly Peter had lived within an section of London that was under the same child care authorities as Victoria Climbie, another child of the failed case. The services involved with these cases have been widely criticised, and enquiries have been made. It's been said in an article in the guardian 'Social employees believed Baby P's mother was a "caring but inadequate" parent who just needed support. ' This quote highlights the lack of attention directed at the case from the social worker, due to rigour and lack of time given. Although excellent work had been completed in the areas of social work, just these few examples are enough showing that there was much need for change in the social services, and the 21st Century Social Work Review discusses what these changes are.
It became clear when piecing together Changing Lives: 21st Century Review of Social Work, that 'doing more of the same' wouldn't work. The issues within the social care sector were deeper and looking for more attention than simply 'doing more of the same work'. It has been mentioned by the Users and Carers panel that 'this is an unsustainable direction for social work services which simply pouring a lot more public resources into a service based on welfare models rather than the promotion of individual wellbeing won't, in itself, achieve a sustainable future' Obviously, there have been numerous examples of success with service users, where the social worker has provided an excellent service and transformed the lives of men and women in need, but the evidence for the necessity for improvement has outweighed the data for the somewhat limited outstanding work. Therefore the Review looks at the challenges to tackle, as well as the strengths that can be built after and improved further.
Looking at the major issues and challenges that faced social workers, we can see a trend emerging that suggests a huge lack of confidence, and this is due to having less clarity of their field of work. Unreasonable expectations of what, and exactly how much a social worker can do also provides problems, as these expectations evidently can't be met, and then a sense of failure kicks in, that subsequently impacts other work that is being carried out, creating a negative cycle. Risk is another factor that social workers need to carefully consider. This again has a poor cycle effect; the social worker takes fewer risks, as they feel the need to safeguard themselves from media and political criticism, but this then contributes to a less focused and comprehensive relationship with the service user. It must also be noted, that previously social employees that are fully qualified and skilled had been carrying out work that didn't in fact require that level of knowledge and expertise. This is partly due to insufficient staff in the service care sector, but also with bad organisation, rather than using these skilled staff to the best of their abilities. These social staff are not being put to the best of their ability. Finance is an issue within social work, as without the funds, the service cannot be provided. A social worker has posted their concerns over a discussion group on the internet, and this reads as follows; 'Lack of funding is by far the biggest challenge in social work today. Many social service agencies are currently experiencing hiring freezes. This causes larger case loads and less moment given to each client. That is true whatever the population that is being served. Unfortunately, due to our poor economy, more and more people need the help of social workers. Monetaray hardship causes homelessness, child abuse, and a multitude of other issues, but there is no funding available to assist existing clients, significantly less new clients that are being afflicted by the recession. ' This really highlights the urgency for funding, which is further emphasised within the Review by an individual and Carer Panel, 'there are fewer taxpayers and more folks needing services, so there is not enough money to fund these services. ' Another problem that has faced social work is the discrepancy between care and control. This brings about an ambiguous relationship between the provider and an individual, which needs to be addressed in order for the user to feel comfortable enough to make the most of the service. The Users and Carers Panel have stated, "Services should meet the needs of individuals. People shouldn't have to fit services. Social personnel should be allowed enough time to access know their clients effectively, in order that they really understand different needs of each individual. '
Changes in context and society are other reasons that the role of any social worker needed to be examined, 'demographic, socio-economic and political trends have driven significant change in social work services since landmark legislation that underpins social work today. ' There are a variety of major trends that are anticipated to affect the way the social care services are delivered in the foreseeable future. Some of these include; an ageing population, this is particularly important as the quantity of men and women over 75 years has risen an enormous amount and it is thought to have increased by 60% by 2028, therefore 25% of the U. K population will be over 60. The increase being due to advances in science and medicine actually puts forward an enormous challenge for social services, as these 25% of people, 60% which are predicted to have permanent conditions, will be paid to the care of the social services. Children in need remain a significant proportion of those requiring the care of the social services, especially as they become older and leave care. It is stated in the review that '60% leave school without qualification and a similar proportion don't enter employment, education or training and as many as 20% become homeless in a year. ' As this is know a known and accepted problem, it can be addressed and concentrated on by social staff in the child sector. As well as Children, those experiencing disabilities, stress, anxiety and depression are in need of care and support from social workers, and the demand is merely increasing as medical advances enable disabled individuals to live longer than they may have been able to before. Other society related problems that demand a change in the social sector are fractured relationships, social polarisation and shrinking workforce. All the issues touched upon here are inextricably linked to the latter, shrinking workforce, if this is to continue, the ideas and hopes for the future will struggle to take affect.
The most significant factors when considering the new direction for future years of social work are capacity and effective use of resources. In all areas capacity needs to be built upon to achieve the required results. If the capacity is increased, the social worker can deliver personalised services and sustainable change. Both of the latter are extremely important for the continuing future of social work, as said in chapter 5 of the review, 'personalising the delivery of public services can be an explicit goal of Scottish policy', and this is even more relevant today as 'we are in a time of great choice and opportunity. Increasingly which means that we want and expect personalised services. ' It is so important to encourage the strengths of the individual and 'work with them by using a therapeutic approach to make changes and regain their independence'. This then links to the important factor, giving service users a sense of independence and self assurance. This is clarified in Kieron Hatton's book 'New Directions in Social work Practice', as he identifies the discussion of the 'common third'. This is essentially a practice 'in which neither (the service user or provider) is the expert and in which each makes the same contribution the purpose is to build up the self-esteem and self-confidence of the individual using the service in order to take that new self belief forward into other areas with their lives and be fully empowered citizens. ' This shows a captivating new idea that can help social workers deal with their service users in hand, rather than maintaining them. This idea is further highlighted by the Users and Carers panel from the Changing Lives, 21st Century Social Work Review stating 'there must be a power shift away from individuals who commission and provide services to service users and carers'
When considering all of the factors mentioned, it becomes clear that Social Work demanded a big change or a new outlook. However, maybe it's argued that if there is a rise in workforce, who then released the extraordinary work plenty of under great pressure social workers more service users would be helped, and more lucrative outcomes would happen. Yet, it can't be denied that even if this was a possibility, which unfortunately it isn't due to a lack of new workers, the 21st Century demands more interaction, hence forming better relationships, more funding, and a larger workforce, which contribute to the actual fact that 'doing more of the same wont work, ' and the challenges and changes put forward by the Changing Lives review are positive ideas for new directions that will change peoples life and change lives.
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