Staff shortages increasing workload pressure on social workers
Social workers are facing increased pressure as they are given a more central role in providing social care, the Chief Social Worker for Adults has said in her annual report.
Lyn Romeo says that new regulations introduced in the past year, including the Care Act, improvements to the application of the Mental Capacity Act and revisions to the Mental Health Act Code of Practice, have increased the role of social workers in promoting independence and empowerment for vulnerable adults.
She says that social workers are generally coping well with the increased pressures placed on them, such as a national minimum eligibility threshold for care and support and a new duty to prevent, delay or reduce needs for care and support, but shortages of social workers and difficulties recruiting experienced social workers have led to difficulties in some areas.
In the Ministerial Foreword Alistair Burt, minister for community and social care, said: “Social workers do one of the most important jobs across the country, supporting individuals and their carers to experience better lives. It is therefore right that we are bringing the social worker role to the very heart of government, and I would like to commend the work carried out so far by our Chief Social Worker, Lyn Romeo.”
In 2014-15 there were 1,846,000 requests for support, with 72% from those aged 65 or over, of which 20% led to further short or long-term support.
Last year the Public Accounts Committee warned that the Care Act is increasing the burden on local councils’ social care resources.
However, there was also a tenfold increase in deprivation of liberty safeguards from last year to 137,540, and a 9.8% increase in detentions under the Mental Health Act to 58,400.
Further changes to social work are due this year, including the introduction of a new regulatory body for social work.
The report says that the new regulator must support the social work profession overall.
It also calls for closer collaboration between social work and the NHS, such as greater clarity and support for social workers caring for people with complex health needs, in order to reduce the burden on primary care and GPs.