Social Workers ‘Too Busy’ To Fill Forms

Hard-pressed social workers are putting children before form-filling because they are so overworked. But according to Mark Roszkowski, Swansea Council’s head of child and family services, they have no choice because the department is so short-staffed.

Mr Roszkowski made his comments at a meeting of the council’s health and social care scrutiny board on Monday, when he was reporting on a quarterly review of the service by Care and Social Services Department Wales (CSSIW).

In March and April, inspectors from CSSIW visited the children’s services department and produced a damning report on its work.

They raised serious concerns about particular parts of its performance, in particular assessment procedures, care management and protection of vulnerable people.

At Monday’s meeting Mr Roszkowski said the service now received quarterly reports from CSSIW to see how it was developing as part of an 18-month to two-year improvement programme.

He said it had identified improvements but highlighted concerns over the recording of cases by social workers, which are needed to gauge how the department is improving.

According to the latest report from CSSIW, social workers are not providing adequate reports on the work they do, but Mr Roszkowski said this was because the department was short-staffed and record-keeping had dropped down the list of priorities for staff.

“There are 70 social work posts across the department, but 17 are vacant and covered by agency staff,” he said.

“Obviously, having between 23 and 24 per cent of posts vacant puts extra pressure on everyone else because the work still has to be done.

“What we don’t have is a permanent cadre of social work staff.

“The job is demanding, taxing, complex and difficult, and staff have to prioritise.

“Doing this in addition to normal work will be seen as bureaucratic. But you prioritise and it means some things don’t happen. Ultimately I can’t defend that.”

But board member Robert Francis-Davies said there were no excuses for the work not being completed.

“It’s very important that social workers get it right. It’s raised in the CSSIW report,” he said. “It’s not good enough that they are not doing it.

“Staff might feel it is bureaucratic but unless we can monitor it, we can’t improve.”

Mr Roszkowski said the department was working hard to recruit more social workers to fill gaps in the team, to meet the standard required.

“Front-line staff are critical to our improvement journey,” he said.