Department of Health examine BU report holding the key to Social Care reform

The Department of Health is examining a Bournemouth University (BU) report that identifies job losses and training standards as the two main problems facing social work today.

Written by Professor Keith Brown and Dr Steven Keen at the Centre for Post Qualifying Social Work at BU and published by the main Local Authority workforce development organisation Learn to Care, the document details local government funding of social work in 2011 and where gaps are having severe implications on the sector.

Brown and Keen state: ‘If these average job losses are representative of all local authorities, it is estimated that 800 workforce development posts have been cut in England – three-quarters of these losses are likely to be professional, not administrative posts’.

They go on to question whether if this ‘asset stripping’ continues, will the Reforms Board’s agenda be able to be delivered, and what will be the impact on the Private, Voluntary and Independent sector and vulnerable citizen?

Professor Keith Brown, Director of the Centre for Post Qualifying Social Work at BU said: “Loss of positions in workforce development in social work and care due to the cutbacks put the implementation of the Social Work Reform Board recommendations at jeopardy, as these are the key people to ensure that the recommendations are implemented.”

With reference to training standards and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) the report states: ‘About half of the Learn to Care members are unsure if the CPD proposals will improve the quality and consistency of learning and result in more confident and competent practitioners. There are concerns about a lack of detail and resources, and calls for the Reform Board to facilitate more coherent, effective and consistent workforce development planning with clear national standards and structures. Given that Learn to Care members are the ones ‘putting feet’ to the CPD proposals it is vital that their concerns and calls are addressed.’

Professor Brown concludes: “Both of these implications are vital to address the issues identified from the Peter Connelly tragedy. We hope that the report will put pressure on the National Sector bodies responsible for workforce development to ensure the implications of the survey are addressed.”

The letter from the Department of Health, sent to Learn to Care last month, stated that they would be ‘contacted by officials in the social care workforce team to discuss your findings in more detail.’

The full report is called ‘Local Government social care workforce development expenditure: a survey of trends and funding (2011)’ by Professor Keith Brown and Dr Steven Keen.