Tackling fitness to practise backlogs, refreshing CPD and a focus on students: the year ahead for Social Work England

Colum Conway, chief govt, Social Work England

Social Work England nonetheless “doesn’t know what a enterprise as traditional yr appears to be like like”, its chief govt has mentioned after it launched its marketing strategy for 2021-22.

Within 4 months of it taking up the function in December 2019, social work, like the remainder of the nation, went into lockdown because the pandemic struck, affecting all areas of the regulator’s enterprise.

With the nation transferring out of lockdown, Social Work England has printed its business plan for 2021-22, however, in an interview with Community Care, Colum Conway says the regulator remains to be engaged on what constitutes an excellent yr to measure itself towards.

“That’s one thing we’re nonetheless engaged on when it comes to what does a enterprise as traditional yr appear to be,” he provides. “What’s the rhythm of the yr? There can be adjustments this yr when it comes to work patterns, not only for ourselves, however for the general sector.”

Revising down health to practise targets

A key space the place that is related is health to practise. As properly as delays brought on by its lack of ability to carry face-to-face hearings, Social Work England confronted a lot larger than anticipated ranges of referrals of social staff and was not in a position to take care of “legacy instances” inherited from the Health and Care Professions Council as shortly because it had anticipated.

The latter was, partly, all the way down to the difficulties in acquiring proof from employers having to take care of the impression of Covid and unable to entry paper information from their workplaces. The consequence was many social staff dealing with professionally and personally damaging delays after being referred for issues about their conduct or follow, which the Social Workers Union said had had a “life-changing impact”. 

In addition, the targets that Social Work England had set itself to finish health to follow instances have been missed, in some instances by giant margins. This yr’s targets have been revised down.

For instance, its goal for 2020-21 was to have the variety of instances open on the investigation stage to be 1100 or much less, which was midely missed by the yr. This yr, the goal is to have this quantity beneath 1,230 by March 2022.

“We began final yr with a set of assumptions and set KPIs round them and important components of these assumptions didn’t materialise and the KPIs weren’t fairly proper,” says Conway. “That’s one of many issues we’ve been ready to do that yr and study from that and set efficiency targets that we will obtain, that stretch however are additionally achievable and that now we have the sources to attain.”

Social Work England 2021-22 marketing strategy: key targets

  • Registration: reviewing authorized framework and insurance policies, together with necessities for social staff returning to follow and strategy to the misuse of the title ‘social employee’.
  • Fitness to practise: inspecting the explanations for the upper than anticipated stage of referrals and in search of to have extra instances resolved by employers and implementing distant hearings past the pandemic.
  • Professional requirements: beginning work to streamline skilled requirements and producing coaching and approval requirements for accepted psychological well being professionals and accepted psychological capability professionals.
  • CPD: consulting on a revised strategy to amassing and recording social staff’ CPD, drawing on classes from the primary yr of registration renewal.
  • Education and coaching: introducing new requirements for social work schooling suppliers and beginning a three-year programme after all inspection and reapproval in September 2021.
  • Social work college students: beginning work to determine how the transition from pupil to practitioners might be improved, together with contemplating the dangers and advantages of social work registration.

CPD overview

A outstanding situation throughout Social Work England’s first full was its requirement for all social staff to submit a bit of CPD with a purpose to renew registration. A final-minute rush meant that solely about 250 practitioners failed to satisfy this requirement, although completion charges had been very gradual by a lot of the yr.

It will shortly launch a session on how one can take ahead CPD in subsequent years.

“Last yr we have been actually happy with the response round CPD and renewals,” Conway. “We have some issues now we have realized.”

He says one space it will likely be enhancing is the net system for importing CPD, based mostly on suggestions from practitioners.

“It was the primary yr we have been in a position to implement our new guidelines – so there are bits of studying from that that we’ll use to regulate and amend what we’re doing this yr to make the method as fluid and accessible as attainable. One of the areas round CPD is to encourage to submit CPD on an ongoing foundation and never cling on till the final minute.”

Student focus

It may even be specializing in enhancing the expertise of scholars and their transition into follow, an space that’s deemed a priority within the marketing strategy.

New requirements for schooling suppliers can be launched in September 2021, together with the beginning of a three-year cycle of inspections and reapproval of programs, whereas Social Work England may even be persevering with to think about the case for registering college students.

This is one thing that applies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and was once the case in England, however has not been in place since 2012.

“It’s one thing that we’re ,” says Conway. “It’s extra advanced and desires good consideration. There’s lots of normal help however pupil registration additionally means pupil regulation and that presents a sequence of advanced points that must be properly explored. We could have workshops and convesrations with individuals about how one can take this ahead and whether or not it’s the proper factor to do to make sure it’s accomplished in the proper approach. I’m not saying we’re going to have a session this yr and set a timeframe nevertheless it’s one thing we’re eager to discover and decide on.”

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