There is a huge amount of helpful detail in the two major strategies published by Skills for Care and local authorities will wish to consider these in more detail.
The documents demonstrate that the cultural change required in social care can only be achieved by developing the workforce, and that old ways of operating in the training and professional development arena will no longer be sufficient.
Councils will need to be very clear that workforce development is a priority and completely integral to commissioning and strategic development, rather than something that can be left on the back burner.
One criticism of the strategy is that it could have placed more emphasis on the leadership and coordination role of councils in helping to shape the social care workforce to meet the care and support requirements of all local people, be they traditional service users, direct payment employers or self funders.
One of the frustrations of the current state of social care is that many developments are still at the early, project-testing stage. While the changes identified in the workforce development strategy will certainly take place, it is impossible to tell what the emphasis will need to be.
Some areas are obvious – all workers should be mindful of people’s circles of support, and experts in both assistive technology and personalisation are needed to maximise the use of these cost effective measures. However, issues such as the extent of the need for community capacity building skills remains unclear.
This is not a criticism of the strategy, rather the problem that there appears to be, as yet, no clear and operational description of what modern social care across an area would actually consist of. This type of practical model would certainly be useful to councils and their partners.
Also, since the greatest increase in care needs will come from older people, it is important that the emphasis on new ways of working should not obscure the fact that most older people facing the need for care and support have extremely clear and simple aims – the minimum level of intervention, but if absolutely necessary support from kind, skilled, thoughtful people who can enable them to carry on with their lives.
This post is based on a LGiU members briefing written by Christine Heron. Briefings are accessible to all officers and elected members of our member authorities. For more information on joining the Local Government Information Unit please follow this link