UNISON publish blueprint to tackle abuse against social workers & carers

UNISON, the UK’s leading public sector union, today warned that violence and abuse against social workers and people working in social care, has reached ‘chronic’ levels*, with attacks and abuse becoming a regular occurrence. The union has launched a ten-point blueprint aimed at combating the abuse and attacks.

Helga Pile, UNISON national officer for social care, said:

“Sadly, being a social worker, or working in social care has become a high risk job. It cannot be right that staff who are working hard, often under difficult circumstances, to keep children and vulnerable adults safe, are coming under regular attacks and abuse.

“Threats and assaults lead to stress, ill-health, sickness absence, and high staff turnover. With serious skills shortages already hitting many social work departments, it makes sense to tackle this problem head-on.

“Social workers and social care workers need to see action from the Government, to prove that keeping them safe is a priority. A vital first step is setting up a national register of attacks, so that incidents can be monitored and analysed.”

UNISON’s blueprint to combat abuse in social work and social care, is calling for:

1. ADDITIONAL FUNDING FROM CENTRAL GOVERNMENT EQUIVALENT TO THE PROGRAMME FOR NHS WORKERS to invest in measures to protect staff, and provide safety equipment such as personal alarms.

2. RISK ASSESSMENT AND PREVENTION STRATEGIES: this should include more thorough risk assessments, and well-developed prevention strategies, such as redeployment of workers whilst incidents are investigated, and training. Staff should not have to use their own car for high-risk visits – number plates make it easy to trace people.

3. REPORT, RECORD, RESPOND, REVIEW: of all incidents and safety arrangements.

4. IMPROVEMENTS IN THE WAY INCIDENTS ARE DEALT WITH LOCALLY so that staff have good support after incidents, to build staff confidence to report incidents.

5. A NATIONAL SYSTEM OF MONITORING OF VIOLENT INCIDENTS for all local government staff, with national guidance on reporting categories, to enable trends to be identified and action triggered.

6. EASY ACCESS TO POST-INCIDENT SUPPORT AND COUNSELLING FOR AFFECTED STAFF, based on need, not rationed to sessions, possible redeployment, compensation for damaged property and practical support.

7. INCREASED INSPECTIONS BY THE ENFORCING AUTHORITIES to make sure employers are taking enough action to tackle the problem.

8. IMPROVEMENTS TO MANAGEMENT OF LONE WORKING should include stopping lone working on risky visits.

9. CLOSER RELATIONS BETWEEN POLICE /CPS AND EMPLOYERS, including local memoranda of understanding for how incidents against staff will be handled.

10. BETTER PROTOCOLS IN MENTAL HEALTH BETWEEN EMPLOYERS, POLICE AND AMBULANCE SERVICES to ensure adequate back-up and support for social workers who have to manage the compulsory admission to hospital of mental health patients.