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10 Apr 2020

Social service workforce

World Social Work Day recognises vital role

Plans for World Social Work Day on 17 March 2020 were overtaken by the growing COVID-19 pandemic. But as social workers in Scotland respond to the crisis, return to frontline roles and join our temporary social work register we thought it was a good time to share our article to highlight the vital role they play in supporting some of society’s most vulnerable citizens.

The theme of World Social Work Day 2020 was ‘Promoting the Importance of Human Relationships’. This was the focus of the recently published Independent Care Review and there is a key role for us to #keepthepromise, say Phillip Gillespie, our Director of Development and Innovation and Laura Lamb, our Head of Learning and Development.

The Independent Care Review published its final reports in February 2020. At its heart is a commitment to the human rights of children and young people and the principles of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, which will be incorporated into Scottish law.

The review is unique in that it sets out the challenges of the current system and provides clear solutions for change with a focus on the need to invest in family support prevention; the benefits of investing in these areas are set out in the economic case for change. The review’s leadership direction and influence are set by those with care experience who co-led the review.

Chapter 6 of the review refers to the scaffolding within the system and says that children, families and the workforce must be supported by a system that is responsive to the rights and needs of children and young people. The development and regulation of the workforce must be an enabler of this change.

Scrutiny and regulation

The SSSC Codes of Practice will need to the reflect changing demand, human rights-based approaches, supported decision making and strengths-based approaches to practice. We will work with the Care inspectorate to review the scrutiny and inspection framework and this will be central to strengthening a human rights approach to regulation. The Independent Care Review recommendations and work to respond to them will be a core lever for future change.

We also have a critical role to play in making sure education, learning and development supports the workforce to be empowered, skilled and confident to practice in a way that puts human rights approaches at the heart of decisions and interventions. This will ensure children in Scotland grow up loved, safe, respected and realise their potential.

Workforce group

It was a privilege to be part of the workforce group during the journey phase of the review. The review is an excellent example of meaningful co-production with both professionals and those with lived experience jointly working together to understand what is working well and what needs to change. Going forward it is clear we need a whole systems approach and we have a critical role to play in ensuring the recommendations from the review are implemented.

Some of the key messages from the workforce group included the:

  • need to support the wellbeing of the workforce and empower them to be able to make decisions which truly keep the child's voice and the rights of the child at the centre
  • importance of relationship-based practice and a system which supports, respects and listens to everyone around the child
  • need for recruitment to focus on individuals who have the right qualities and values
  • need for common language and a shared understanding across all the workforce is critical starting point.

We will keep our promise and continue to support the review as it enters the next phase.

Contact information

Lorraine Wakefield
Communications Manager
Scottish Social Services Council