Social workers put in the driving seat in Suffolk

SUFFOLK has become the first county in the country to put social workers in the driving seat when it comes to delivering services to adults with sensory impairments through a newly formed local company, Sensing Change.

Sensing Change is a social enterprise set up as one of only seven pilot areas across the UK as part of a department of health pilot scheme.

Sensing Change will take over responsibility for its own day-to-day management, allowing for greater creativity and flexibility in the delivery of services.

Adult sensory services, previously delivered by Suffolk County Council’s sensory team, will now be delivered by Sensing Change, with all staff working with the new company.

Managing director of Sensing Change, Caroline Carr, said: “Sensing Change has been formed by people who are enthusiastic and committed to taking on the challenge of establishing an independent organisation.

“We have the professional expertise, skills and knowledge to provide a service that covers all areas of sensory loss.

“Our customers already receive a high quality service, but this new way of working will offer greater flexibility enabling us to be at the forefront of developing our services and increasing opportunities for people with a sensory impairment in Suffolk.”

Councillor Colin Noble, portfolio holder for adult and community services, said: “It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the team that Sensing Change has been established. Over the next two years, the team will be using their wealth of skills and knowledge to further develop services for people with a sensory impairment in Suffolk.”

Funding of £80,000 was provided by the Department of Health to help with ‘start up’ costs for the new company.

The Social Work Practice scheme is project-managed by The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).

The pilot scheme, which will run for two years, has been set by the Department of Health to examine the possibility of local authorities delegating their statutory duties and functions to professionally-led external organisations.

The work of the team will be evaluated throughout the pilot to determine whether outcomes are improved for customers, as well as if the new way of working is beneficial to the social workers and other staff.