Birmingham to pilot new way of delivering social work

By on 13/04/2011 in News

Birmingham City Council is to be one of six local authorities across the country piloting a new type of social work practice.

Focusing in Birmingham on people with physical disabilities, the scheme will try new ways of organising public services to make them more imaginative and innovative.

The pilots are aimed at encouraging joint working across social care and health and giving people more control over their own care. Frontline social care workers will be given more flexibility to work with the people they support and their carers, to improve outcomes.

Using funding from the Department of Health, along with internal funding, an independent, not-for-profit social work practice (or 'social enterprise') will be set up and given a contract by the council. They will develop social work practice to augment and complement the skills within the local authority, developing professional practice and focusing on innovation.

Councillor Sue Anderson, cabinet member for adults and communities, said: “This is in line with our on-going personalisation agenda and will enable us, through an arms-length approach, to set up a social work enterprise for assessment and support planning.

“I'm very excited about the pilot which will allow us to test this approach, putting social work at the front of the process and bureaucracy at the back. Social work teams will be attached to user-led organisations and enablement services in order to develop an 'enhanced offer' to disabled people. This will allow social workers to work far more closely with individuals and in communities.”

It will enable social care workers to:

• Take decisions closer to those in their care, leading to a more responsive service 
• Be more community-based so they can provide a wider range of services
• Take a more creative and flexible approach to how they spend their time and deliver social work
• Build stronger links across communities and improve integration between health and social care

The pilot will allow the council to look at how social work is delivered and test the new approach to assessment and support planning which is more focussed on frontline services and less on 'red-tape'.

“Social workers will no longer simply be the gatekeepers of the public purse but rather as catalysts within local communities, creating new opportunities for disabled people to be independent and encouraging people to become active citizens,” Councillor Anderson added.

The Social Care Institute for Excellence, an independent charity, will oversee the project on behalf of the Department of Health.

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