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Caithness News Bulletins February 2006

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Changing Lives Report

Scottish Executive Response To Changing Lives Report

Highland Council Social Work

Changing Lives
Major social work modernisation programme

The biggest overhaul of social work for 40 years was unveiled today (7 February 2006).

It will deliver better care and a more motivated, focused profession, Education and Young People Minister Peter Peacock said today.

The Minister said radical change was needed to provide social work services that could meet the challenges of the 21st century. He said the current system needed national priorities to help set direction, stronger leadership and new confidence to act quickly and decisively.

Responding to the 21st Century Social Work Review's report Changing Lives, Mr Peacock announced an immediate action plan for improvement, which will:

Set National Priorities for social work
Develop and improve standards through a strong framework for continuous professional development
Invest in leadership
Strengthen the role of the Chief Social Work Officer in providing professional leadership and in maintaining the highest standards of professional practice
Devolve more responsibility to front line social workers
Create para-professionals to work under the direction of social workers
Allow experienced social workers to progress their career while remaining at the front-line
Involve users and carers more in decisions about their own care and the design and delivery of services
Review education and training programmes, ensuring that social workers are well equipped to fulfil their responsibilities
Legislate to provide the framework for national priorities and continuous improvement

Mr Peacock said:
"The review makes clear that the current response to growing demand for services is unsustainable and, we in Government have not only the opportunity to act on the reports findings, but an obligation to do so.

"What I am announcing today is a change agenda not only for the remainder of this Parliament, but for the next term of Parliament too. This Government is intent on transforming Scotland's public services and social work will be the focus for change as we drive forward our wider reforms.

"It is clear we need to take radical and comprehensive action to transform our social services sector - to build new confidence, stronger leadership and the kind of management culture that supports the empowerment of front line social workers.

"We fully intend to get in behind and support social work through a period of necessary change, to equip it to better meet contemporary needs and ever changing demands.

"Local authorities have played a key role in the delivery of social work over much of the last 40 years and they should continue to be central to future delivery but with an ever increasing array of partners in other parts of the public, private and voluntary sectors.

"Meeting the modern day needs in our society cannot fall to social workers alone, but their special skills are needed as part of complex care arrangements which increasingly need to engage users and carers in the design and delivery of their services.

"Social workers help protect and care for our most vulnerable people and change the unacceptable behaviour of a minority in our communities. They cannot do this unless we radically reform the social work system they work under. Social workers have the right to know what is expected of them but also the right to be supported when they carry out their responsibilities.

"The Executive has a responsibility to provide a clear lead in response to the findings of the review and the announcements I have made today demonstrate we plan to act. But these are not matters for central government alone. Right across Scotland, at the local level, councils, with health boards, police, private and voluntary organisations, users and carers have to take a lead in fashioning local service delivery to match local priorities.

"Today, I am giving the initial response of the Executive and making it clear we are going to act on the main thrust of the review. We will work closely with all the key stakeholders over coming weeks and months to develop a comprehensive implementation plan for all the necessary changes flowing from the review. When that is done I will make announcements about the sums of extra funding the Executive will make available to support the work needed."

Changing Lives, the report of the 21st Century Social Work Review Group sets out 13 high level recommendations, which aim to:

Personalise the delivery of services, so that they better meet people's needs and aspirations
Take a public sector wide approach to prevention, helping people before they reach a crisis point in their lives
Strengthen the social work profession so that social workers are better equipped to practise using the best evidence of what works, with steps to keep the best practitioners in practice
Develop an organisational approach to risk management and governance which promotes excellence and learning from mistakes
Develop a culture of performance improvement in social work services

Willy Roe, Chairman of the 21st Century Social Work Review Group, said:

"Throughout the review, the evidence we drew and considered was remarkably consistent, with one single message at the core: doing more of the same won't work.

"Social work must change to meet our expectations of high quality, accessible, personalised services that are equipped to respond to increasingly complex problems in a fragmented and ageing society.

"Now we need to harness all our resources and expertise - across all sectors - to design services around the needs of people and shift the focus from dealing with crises, to prevention and early intervention."

Sam Cairns, on behalf of the review group's Users' and Carers' Panel said:

"The truth is that we should all be working towards the same goal in social work, how to achieve a good quality of life. Our hope is that the Changing Lives report will lead everyone involved in social work services to that thought. And we also hope that bureaucracy and well-intentioned policies become secondary to finding practical and innovative ways to help people achieve a good life."

The Review was commissioned by Peter Peacock in June 2004. The Review Group consisted of 14 independent experts from the statutory and voluntary sectors from fields such as social work, education, the police and health care. The purpose of the review was to take a fundamental look at all aspects of social work in Scotland to ensure services are fit to respond to the needs of future generations.