4 thoughts on “Saving General Social Care Council

  1. You raise some important issues about the bulk of the workforce in the social care sector. I always remember my shock to find upon my first day at work in a Social Services team that, team manager aside, a team of some 12 or so people, there was one qualified social worker!

    My argument with the professional associations was that they seemed from the outside to be very qualified-social-worker-centric. There needs to be more of a spotlight on the remainder of the workforce and this is more urgent than ever as we are moving to a world where unionised council care staff are replaced by a largely non-unionised more fragmented workforce. Certainly there needs to be a recognition that good working conditions and a commitment to development across the sector are an essential bedrock for decent standards.

  2. Interesting article, cb and there’s no easy answers. Speaking from my own perspective, there definitely needs to be a mandatory national standard for social care. I had experience of several different care organisations looking after Mum and the standard varied wildly. It’s tied in with how much those companies are paying of course and I think a training certificate might even up the standards across the board a bit. As to social work itself, I wonder how possible it was going to be to keep a professional organisation free from government interference. This was a problem that the General Teaching Council ran into; unlike lawyers and doctors who were all independent contractors, teachers are ultimately employed by the government and I remember my Dad saying how when the GTC was founded, a coach and horses was driven through it by the government to curb its independence. And he also said what you said, ‘It’s a poor thing but it’s mine own.’

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  4. Indeed, nobody of those professional stakeholders engages with unqualified staff who do most direct work eg with children & families. “Sessional workers” working for councils can be easily scapegoated for service failures due to not having any employment rights. Even more perverse, those workers are not integrated and trained to avoid (costly) employment status by default. At this council this has led to numerous sensitive data leaking into the community because the worker had been unlawfully forced to use his personal laptop for reports, risk assessments, etc. which was then stolen. Response from regulators: none.
    The GSCC has in numerous instances shown how dangerous its conduct is to the safety & quality of social care far from protecting the public. We all know this – so why do we still believe??
    The SW Reform Board Chair Moira Gibb has just sent a letter to ministers (ComCare: ‘attacks ministers over scrapping of the GSCC’) to save the GSCC on the grounds that the GSCC has now published their University inspection reports – yet the process under which the GSCC produces those University inspection reports is under no scrutiny. In particular, the GSCC still seems to have no framework in place to tackle the difficult dynamics between student whistleblowing, student exclusion and quality assurance. As a result, student whistleblowers eg at Brighton Uni with serious concerns can be silenced and simply excluded by Universities under active involvement from the GSCC:

    Students have – unlike employees – no access to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 and are unprotected against detriments, even though whistleblowing is perhaps the most essential trigger for service improvement.
    There are obvious conflicts of interests between Unis assessing, arranging & managing & monitoring (social work) placements for their quality – Unis cannot be expected to put at risk their own reputation in a fair, transparent process as Unis are associated with the poor placements that they would have selected and managed. Students have no access to independent, external scrutiny of Unis’ decision-making in the form of a hearing! Even the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA – not known to be student-friendly) expressed their concerns about “providers which unfairly seek to influence universities‘ decision-making by threatening to withdraw the supply of placement opportunities” http://www.oiahe.org.uk/downloads/Fitness-to-Practise-Workshop-Notes.pdf

    In March 2010 I received the following communication from the GSCC Chair Rosie Varley “To date there is no criteria of what quality means in a placement” One wonders then how Universities can be inspected (and reports published for the first time) when for the most central part that Universities deliver (placements over 200 days in two year master courses!) there are not even criteria to report on!

    In the light of all this, one would hope that the Social Work Reform Board under Moira Gibb had a bit more standing power than to overturn their own previous concerns and prematurely conclude that the GSCC is (now) “providing more transparent and effective regulation of social work education”.

    Perhaps it is not enough to scrap the GSCC but instead time to consider an overhaul of whole systems in this sector?

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