07 June, 2019

Social Care - the Under Dog of the Welfare State

I have been an employee of a local authority for the past 13 years and yesterday was my last day.  I have worked at this local authority since I qualified with a Masters in Social Work in 2006 and I have certainly grown and developed as a professional during those years.  I was the senior practitioner within the team, supporting others and managing the day to day running of the service.  I am also a Practice Educator so have the honour of working with students on their placements.  I have also seen a lot of changes during this time, which is to be expected within local government services.

Last year the NHS celebrated their 70th birthday.  There was a lot of press coverage around this event and celebrations across the service.  The NHS is a great provision which we should all be proud of.  However, the NHS was born out of the National Health Service Act 1946 and Social Care from the National Assistance Act 1948.  Both pieces of legislation came as an outcome of the Beveridge Report presented to parliament in November 1942 by Sir William Beveridge.  This report was influential in the founding of the welfare state.

In 2018 there was no national celebration of the work that local authorities provide within social care departments.  Too often social care is seen as the underdog.  They are alone remembered for the complex cases where unfortunately serious case reviews are required.  We do not celebrate or publicise the amazing work that social workers do daily to ensure the well-being of our clients.  Social care is under the same pressures as the NHS to continue to provide a high standard of service whilst having budgets cut and within adult care, an increasing aging population.  Within my 13 years practicing within local authority social care, I have seen excellent examples of person-centred practice and practitioners going that extra mile to support families.  The social care sector should certainly be celebrated for the role they have within our communities and the positive impact they have on people’s lives.

We currently await the Social Care Green Paper and the changes that this will bring.  But with the changes in legislation and local processes, within that system are experienced practitioners who will continue to support the most vulnerable in our communities.