Research reveals attitudes to Scottish social work

Research carried out by the Association of Directors of Social Work (ADSW) has revealed differing perceptions about the range of social work services on offer in Scotland depending on personal experience.

While two-thirds of those people whose families had used social services in the past two years rated them positively, almost half of all those surveyed felt unable to give any opinion.

The results, taken from a survey of 1000 people across Scotland, also show that those with experience of social services associate them mainly with care of older people and support for people with disabilities, but 36% of those respondents who had not used social services associated them mainly with child protection.

The research, carried out by Scottish Opinion, is published to coincide with the ADSW launch of new campaign to improve understanding of social work services in Scotland.

A third of all respondents said that child protection was the service they most identified with social services (32%) followed by care of older people (28%). Only a small proportion of respondents in the research said that they most identified social services with key areas such as mental health (4%), criminal justice (3%) and early years (1%). ADSW believes that the public is often unaware of the breadth of social services activity, much of which goes unpublicised.

“It is clear that there is a great deal of goodwill toward social service workers but that there is also a lack of knowledge about the range of services we provide and the areas our work covers,” said ADSW president Alan Baird. “Through our campaign we hope to demonstrate how social services uses skilled staff to improve the lives of individuals, families and communities across Scotland.

 “Social service workers are intent on helping people find their own solutions to problems, co-ordinating help across services to meet individual needs,” Alan Baird said. “We know that there are many thousands of people across Scotland whose lives have been improved through using social services, even as we recognise that some cases can cause heartbreak for all involved.

 “We hope that by launching this campaign we can make people aware of the range of services provided through social work departments and show how they improve the well-being of Scotland as a whole.

“Our effectiveness depends to a significant degree on public awareness and confidence in our work,” added Alan Baird. “It is also important to staff morale and motivation – and ultimately recruitment.”