5 Nov 2010 11:16 AM
Bringing adult social care workers into the big society

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 05 November 2010

A successful scheme which has seen children in care getting better help from independent social workers who are contracted to local authorities will be extended to adult social care, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced today.

In a speech to the National Adult and Children's Services (NCAS) conference in Manchester, Mr Lansley set out plans to pilot Social Work Practices for adult social care, announced funding for re-ablement services in 2011/12 and launched plans for trailblazer sites for Health and Wellbeing boards.

Social Work Practices are organisations that are led by social workers but independent of the local authority. The new pilots will provide the social work services for a specified group of adults. They discharge the statutory duties and responsibilities of the local authority in relation to these adults.

The programme will enable social care workers to:
* Spend more time with the individuals in their care and the bureaucratic burden on individual social workers is reduced.
* Take decisions much closer to their clients, resulting in a more responsive service.
* Feel empowered with more control over the day-to-day management of the practice.
* Make use of the increased financial flexibility to deliver better outcomes by stepping back and thinking creatively about resource use.
* Enjoy their jobs more - staff satisfaction levels for the children's pilot have been high as staff feel empowered with more control over the day-to-day management of the Practice. They feel they are very much part of a decision-making team.

Following the successful pilot in children's services, councils will now be invited to apply to pilot Social Work Practices for adults. Subject to Parliamentary approval, the pilots will begin next summer.

Mr Lansley said:

"Putting decision making and power in the hands of social workers will mean better, more personal care for individuals. Social workers - the people who really know their clients - will have flexibility to create services around their clients.

"These pilots will explore how the government can encourage social workers to develop fully independent groups contracted to local authorities. The project will work across health and social care to secure better health and wellbeing for the individuals using the service.

"The Social Work Practices programme supports the Government's wider agenda of building the 'Big Society'. We want to put the user at the heart of the service delivered and be more responsive, bringing decision making much closer to them."

The Health Secretary gave more details about the funding and more help for the NHS to put in place post hospital care, or re-ablement services.

Re-ablement helps people who return home after a spell in hospital and need help re-gaining their independence. The NHS will be given an extra £150 million in 2011/12 for re-ablement services and £300 million a year from 2012/13 - this is part of the additional money given to social care through the Department of Health in the Spending Review. And a toolkit has been launched that will help councils to work with the NHS on re-ablement. The toolkit can be found at http://www.csed.dh.gov.uk/homeCareReablement/Toolkit/.

Mr Lansley said:

"Last month, I announced £70 million for re-ablement. Next year, this will rise to £150 million. And after that, £300 million each year earmarked for re-ablement until 2015."

And Mr Lansley set out that councils, the NHS, representatives of patients and the public and everybody involved in commissioning services that affect people's health will be brought together to form Health and Wellbeing Boards to ensure individuals get a seamless service from the NHS and social care.

Some authorities are already working up their own plans for integrated working but the Government wants to find the right way forward. Mr Lansley also announced today that a network of early trailblazers, a collection of pioneering authorities to show how health and wellbeing boards could work in future, will be set up. These early implementers will link with GP commissioning pathfinders to ensure the right relationships are put in place.

Notes for Editors

1. For further information, contact the Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5221.

2. Social Work Practice (SWP) pilots have been funded by the Department for Education since December 2008 and have seen the creation of independent organisations led by social workers, delivering services for children and young people in care.

3. The Department of Health is now proposing to run similar SWP pilots for users of adult social care. SWPs will be led by social workers but could include other professionals or organisations considered appropriate for the services provided. Each SWP would contract with its local authority to provide particular community care services.

4. A letter inviting councils to submit expressions of interest to form SWPs by Christmas will shortly appear on the DH website. Councils will be expected to outline innovative models to enhance the quality of services experienced by service users and their carers. Funding will be available to cover set up costs for each pilot site, depending on the number of sites eventually chosen.

5. Councils submitting the most promising models will be asked to submit more detailed proposals. A final decision on which councils to involve in the programme will be made early in the New Year, following appropriate consultation. The pilots are expected to begin next summer (subject to Parliamentary approval).


Department of Health
Phone: 020 7210 5221