Councils failing to undertake social work healthcheck

Most local authorities in England have not carried out the social worker healthcheck recommended by the Social Work Taskforce (SWTF), BASW Online has learned.

A snapshot survey of 30 local authorities found that 60% have not completed the survey, eight months after the SWTF published the check and urged councils to use it to gauge the conditions in which social workers are forced to operate.

In those local authorities that have carried out the check, social workers based in adult services are playing second fiddle to staff working in children’s services. Sixteen per cent had only carried out the health check among children and families workers, failing to apply the same test of working conditions to adult workers.

The check advises councils across England to look at areas including workload, training, management and supervision and the health of the workplace for all their social workers.

BASW Online also found that of those that have carried out the check none was able to supply a copy of its findings to BASW.

BASW England manager Ruth Cartwright described the low take-up among employers as “lamentable”.

She said: “One would have thought that those who do offer a good deal to their social workers would have completed the health check to show their good practice while those who are reluctant to do so are not doing right by this professional group and have little interest in doing so – unfortunately the latter seem to be a significant number,” she said.

“I have tried hard to believe the assurances that the Taskforce and Reform Board were interested in all social workers and not just those who work with children and families, but clearly employers feel they can ignore its request with impunity, especially in the area of work with adults. Could this reflect a wider view across local authorities that adults, especially older people and those with mental health issues or learning disabilities, are less important and worthwhile than children?” She added.

What the Social Work Taskforce recommended in its report, Building a safe, confident future – The final report of the Social Work Taskforce:

Recommendation 6 is that there should be a standard for employers for the support of social workers to do their jobs effectively covering areas including training and supervision. It presented an initial framework for helping employers and practitioners to take action in assessing the “health” of their organisation against five areas: effective workload management, pro-active workflow management, having the right tools to do the job, a healthy workplace and effective service delivery.