Social Services in Scotland: a shared vision and strategy

Social Services in Scotland:
a shared vision and strategy
Final version to be published by the Scottish Government on behalf of the partners in
the Social Work Services Strategic Forum in 2015
Consultation on this draft vision and strategy will be undertaken through the Social
Work Services Strategic Forum members’ existing networks and membership fora.
Should you wish more information on the background of the Forum or this Strategy
you can also email [email protected]
Purpose of the Vision and Strategy
Unique Contribution of Social Services
Values, Ethics and Principles
Social Services: Our Vision and Strategy
Background to the Vision and Strategy
Current Context
Delivering the Vision and Strategy
The Sector : Some Key Facts
Action Strand 1 : Workforce
Action Strand 2 : Performance
Action Strand 3 : Evidence
Action Strand 4 : Promoting Public Understanding
Case Studies
Annex A
Our vision is of a socially just Scotland with excellent social services and a
skilled, engaged and knowledgeable workforce which works, as an effective
partner, to harness the strengths within our communities to co-produce
services and work with people and families to empower, support and protect
Many people in Scotland will come into contact with social services at some time in
their lives. When they do they will find valuable services provided by a wide range of
individuals and organisations. They will experience a workforce of dedicated and
skilled professionals who are there to protect and support people or help them to
deal with challenging circumstances and get back on track with their lives.
The life-changing work undertaken by social service workers, on behalf of us all, to
support children, adults and families to live lives in which they are able to achieve
their potential is extremely valuable work – contributing to a more equal and socially
just Scotland. It can also be challenging and tough and may often go unrecognised.
Social service workers are dedicated and committed and this strategy recognises
and supports both their unique contribution and the contributions they make, in
partnership with others, to supporting our communities and delivering improved
outcomes for the people of Scotland.
The Changing Lives report, almost a decade ago, set in train a wide range of
developments which led to reform and improvement across the delivery and
landscape of social work services. Changing Lives sought “to equip social work
services to rise to the challenge of supporting and protecting our most vulnerable
people and communities in the early part of the 21st century”. It is clear that a great
deal has been achieved over the last ten years and Scotland has social services
which are highly valued, performing well and supporting people to have better lives.
However the landscape and context for these services has changed significantly.
Arguably social services collectively have been experiencing more change in the last
ten years than at any time since the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968. Not least in
the increasing importance of partnership across a range of different kinds or
organisations as the key approach to delivery of services. We now have an
ambitious and wide-ranging policy agenda aimed at enhanced quality, improved
efficiency and financial sustainability in a context of demographic change and rising
demand. This means there are new challenges and opportunities so we must
continue to look for ways to ensure more consistently robust and effective services
and good practice in order to best support and protect people who need it.
Innovative policy developments, financial challenges, increasing demands on
services, changes to the welfare system and in demographics mean the time is right
to consider how these are affecting our social services, to refresh our vision for these
services and ensure we maintain the momentum started by Changing Lives. There
is much great work already being done in communities all over Scotland and this
strategy is intended to build on the strengths within organisations, workforces and
communities to support delivery of the shared vision.
This shared vision and strategy has been developed by a wide range of individuals
and organisations involved in and committed to high quality, strong and effective
social services in Scotland. It incorporates views and ideas from the organisations,
senior managers and front line practitioners who will be the key contributors to
making the vision a reality.
The Social Work Services Strategic Forum (the Forum) was established in late
2013 as a partnership forum to support development and delivery of this vision and
To be signed by SG Minister and Cosla Spokesperson
Purpose of the Vision and Strategy
This document recognises the unique role of social services and is reflective
of the diverse range of support, services and workforce to which this shared vision
and strategy applies. The strategy is not another fundamental review in the style of
Changing Lives but provides an opportunity to:
reflect on and reinforce the progress and improvement which has been made
since Changing Lives;
share a vision for sustainable social services in the context of current policy
developments and the distinctive Scottish approach to public service reform and
transformation; and
set out where further action is needed to ensure that social services continue to
be robust partners in the work to empower, support, protect and ensure better
outcomes for people and communities.
The strategy is, of course, both reflective of and informed by the current policy
context and is not intended to duplicate or replace any of the current implementation
work on-going across specific social services related policy developments. Rather,
the strategy focuses on a number of generic areas - relevant to all kinds of social
services and the whole social service workforce - where it has been identified that
although progress has been made, further effort could deliver greater value.
The strategy therefore focuses on four key action strands:
Public Understanding
Each strand of the strategy considers current activity and key challenges and
suggests a number of actions intended to better support delivery of the vision.
While each of the strands indicates separate actions, in effect, they need to be read
as a whole as the impact of actions will be cross-cutting – for example stronger
leadership is as important for improving performance as it is for building a stronger
workforce. And working collaboratively and in partnership is fundamental to all of
them. The actions have been identified by the partners in the Forum and have also
been informed by a series of engagements, led by Ministers, with front line staff.
The Changing Lives Review focussed on “all services provided by local
authorities and to commissioned services provided by the voluntary and private
sectors to meet the identified needs of the communities they serve”. This wide
definition also provides the underpinning focus and scope for this strategy, whilst
recognising that the landscape and interfaces of this sector are increasingly more
complex than they were even at the time of Changing Lives.
The unique contribution of Social Services
The promotion of human rights and justice through tackling inequality and
disadvantage is one of the key principles which underpins all public services across
Scotland. The reform of public services is being driven by a renewed emphasis on
achieving inclusion through partnership with people who need assistance and with
those who support them: professionals, carers and communities.
Within this context the importance of robust and effective social services is
crucial to the delivery of a socially just Scotland where people are able to feel safe,
to flourish and experience improved opportunities and a better quality of life.
The social services workforce delivers essential support every day to some of
our most vulnerable people. Social services encompass a wide range of support
and services delivered by statutory, voluntary and independent organisations.
Services are there for people at all stages of life and in all kinds of circumstances.
And whilst services are there when people need them and seek them out, it is
important to recognise that sometimes services are also required to proactively
intervene to protect people.
The social services workforce encompasses everyone engaged in the delivery
of social services. It is a large and diverse workforce (employing around 190,000
people) including professional social workers, people working in residential and day
care services for adults, children and families, care at home and housing support,
mental health, child protection and criminal justice services. It is a workforce which
can feel under-valued, but which has grown in confidence and professionalism over
the last decade.
The challenges facing the workforce are varied and they can differ across
sectors, across localities and also depending on the specific nature of the post
involved. The complexity of the issues involved means that there is no “one size fits
all” for the sector - innovative and unique solutions are required for this increasingly
complex environment. Whilst it is a diverse sector in terms of careers and service
provision what unifies the sector is a common set of shared values and ethics which
underpin the principles of those that work across the sector.
Values, Ethics and Principles
Ethical awareness, professional integrity, respect for human rights and a
commitment to promoting social justice are at the core of social services practice
(The Code of Ethics for Social Work, BASW, 2012). The life changing and
challenging work undertaken by those in the sector cannot be underestimated. This
essential work is underpinned by the sector’s core values:
respecting the right to self-determination;
promoting enablement and participation;
taking a whole-person approach;
understanding each individual in the context of family and community; and
identifying and building on the strengths of individuals and communities.
There are also standards of conduct and practice which social services
workers and employers must follow. Employers are responsible for making sure that
they meet the standards set out in Codes of Practice, provide high quality services
and promote public trust and confidence in social services. Whilst social service
workers are responsible for making sure that their conduct does not fall below the
standards set, and that no action or omission on their part harms the wellbeing of the
people they support.
Social service workers must:
protect the rights and promote the interests of service users and carers
strive to establish and maintain the trust and confidence of service users and
promote the independence of service users while protecting them as far as
possible from danger or harm
treat people with compassion, empathy and care
respect the rights of service users while seeking to ensure that their behaviour
does not harm themselves or other people
uphold public trust and confidence in social services
be accountable for the quality of their work and take responsibility for maintaining
and improving their knowledge and skills.
Social Services: Our Vision and Strategy
Our vision is of a socially just Scotland with excellent social services and a
skilled, engaged and knowledgeable workforce who harness the strengths
within our communities to co-produce services and work with people and
families to empower, support and protect them.
The role of social services is as set out in our vision – to empower, support
and protect:
Empower - to empower individuals and families to take control of their lives and
develop hope and aspirations for the future.
Support - to support the most vulnerable and excluded members of our society to
live fulfilling lives and play an active part in society.
Protect - to protect individuals, families and communities at risk of harm from
themselves or others.
Working with others – to harness and build on the strengths within our
Threaded throughout all of this is the importance of partnership working which
is embedded in and fundamental to the new approach to public services in Scotland.
As stated initially in Changing Lives “Social work services alone cannot solve
society’s problems. We need to harness all our resources and expertise to design
services around the needs of people, delivering the right outcomes for the people
who use them. That means finding new ways of working that position social work
services alongside the work of their partners in the public, voluntary and private
The Christie Commission further emphasised the need for public services to
be built around people and communities and to work collaboratively to achieve better
outcomes. These principles are at the core of social service provision. As
evidenced, for example through co-production - involving people who use services
working together with service providers to make better use of each other’s assets,
resources and contributions to achieve better outcomes and improved efficiency.
Background to our Vision and Strategy
The current approach to social services in Scotland stems from the Social
Work (Scotland) Act 1968 as amended and added to by numerous pieces of
legislation - all focused on strengthening different kinds of services and, importantly,
improving protection, outcomes and support for people with a range of needs or
facing challenges in their lives – across all ages, stages and settings of life.
A review of Social Work Services in Scotland, initiated by the Scottish
Government, in 2004, led to a set of recommendations in the Changing Lives report
These were aimed at delivering social services for the 21st Century which would
continue to rise to the challenge of supporting and protecting vulnerable people and
improving the well-being of people and communities. As a whole, the
recommendations were intended to “set social work services on a sustainable
course, building on the capacity of services and the workforce and providing a firm
foundation for meeting the current and future needs of Scottish society”.
Over the last ten years, “Changing Lives” has led to a very wide range of
specific products and outcomes, including guidance on the role of the Chief Social
Work Officer and the responsibilities of Social Workers, practice guidance for social
work services, leadership and knowledge strategies for the sector and significant
investment in approaches to service innovation, access to evidence, sharing of best
practice and continuous learning.
More broadly, the work of the Scottish Social Services Council has been
instrumental in supporting the upskilling and competence of the social service
workforce as a whole and of the quality of the education available for workers in this
sector. Work undertaken by the Social Work Inspection Agency and continued by
the Care Inspectorate have supported improvement and greater quality of provision
across the sector. Service leaders, through organisations such as the Association of
Directors of Social Work (now Social Work Scotland) and frontline practitioners,
individually and collaboratively, through organisations such as trade unions, the
Scottish Association of Social Work and service or user specific learning networks
have all worked to deliver on the Changing Lives recommendations.
Reflecting the cross-cutting nature of social services, the recommendations of
Changing Lives can also be seen in the policy intent behind many current, wider
policy developments, including the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010, the
Social Care (Self-Directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013 and the Public Bodies (Joint
Working) (Scotland) Act 2014. Changing Lives can therefore be seen as the starting
point in the evolution of the high quality social services we aspire to. It was though,
largely focused on social work and this Vision and Strategy is more reflective of the
current context and the changing and diverse nature of the social services workforce.
Current Context
Our aspirations for social services in Scotland takes place within the
challenging context of a global economic downturn, increasing demand for services particularly for older people – and a potential for reduction in overall workforce
numbers, all of which places greater demands on those working across the sector.
However there are also significant and major opportunities for innovation,
improvement and better engagement across workforces and with service users and
their carers as a result of a range of forward-looking policies.
So there is a continuing journey of change for social services as recent
legislation starts to come into force and into implementation stages. A great deal of
current public service reform and improvement activity is being enabled by or having
an impact across social services, including:
new approaches to assessing performance by understanding the impact and
contributions made by services to delivery of National and Local Outcomes for
people and communities rather than solely by assessment of inputs.
transformation programmes and legislation focussed on improving outcomes and
reshaping care for children, older people and for those within the justice system,
including – Reshaping Care of Older People, Getting it Right for Every Child and
Reducing Re-Offending and Reform of Community Justice.
the move to more joined-up services and integration of adult health and social
care, specifically through the Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014.
greater personalisation of services and implementation of self-directed support,
specifically through the Social Care (Self-Directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013
increased support for unpaid carers, recognising them as key partners in care as
evidenced through The Carers and Young Carers Strategy 2010-2015.
development and implementation of joint strategic commissioning and stronger
partnership approaches to service delivery.
strengthened approaches to community capacity building, empowerment and
quality and improvement approaches outlined in the 2020 Vision for Health and
Social Care.
and, importantly, the distinctive Scottish approach to transformation of public
services, to ensure that they are:
with an evidence-based approach to performance improvement;
delivered through partnerships or integrated services; and
focussed on prevention and early intervention.
The policy landscape in this area is therefore cross-cutting and complex. Yet
alongside this is a real recognition that the current environment brings with it
significant opportunities to transform our social services and introduce improved
ways of working across the sector. These opportunities offer the potential to refresh
and redefine relationships between the providers and commissioners of services and
the people they support - all of which have the potential to deliver the improved
outcomes and social justice we are collectively seeking.
The actions outlined in this strategy are, therefore, intended as a supportive
and aligned contribution to the overall direction of travel for the sector within the
broader context of public service reform and innovation in Scotland. Delivery of the
actions will help to ensure that social services as a whole are strong and effective
partners in the increasingly collaborative and co-produced landscape.
Delivering the Vision and Strategy
The proposed actions set out in this strategy can only be delivered in
partnership. The partners in the Social Work Services Strategic Forum will develop
an Implementation Plan, in discussion with wider stakeholders which will set out:
ownership/leadership for each of the actions set out in the strategy,
establishment of action groups as required where actions need a broader set
of partners to support delivery,
identification of resources where required to deliver actions, and direction of
travel on how the resource will either be provided or sought – whichever is
The Forum will maintain an oversight of delivery of the strategy and monitor
the implementation plan through quarterly meetings during 2015 and produce a
progress report in early 2016, to inform next steps with regards delivery of the vision
and strategy.
The Sector – Some Key Facts
Social services is one of the largest employment groups in Scotland – employing over
191,000 workers and interacting with a wide range of other people providing support - for
example carers and directly employed personal assistants
By 2020, approximately 63% of this workforce will be registered with and regulated by
the Scottish Social Services Council. The SSSC also regulates the qualifications which
underpin registration and undertakes activities to support on-going development of the
The services - statutory, third sector and independent - which are the focus of this vision
and strategy are those which are regulated by the Care Inspectorate (Social Care and
Social Work Improvement Scotland) and include those whose workforces are regulated
by the Scottish Social Services Council.
Social services employers are wide ranging – the sector’s workforce is employed in a
mix of private (41%), public (32%) and voluntary sector providers (27%).
Services include those for adults and older people, adults with disabilities and people
with mental health issues, criminal justice services and services for children, young
people and families. Work in this sector can be focussed on promoting empowerment,
independence, safety and protection. Services are provided for people of all ages and
their carers, across all care groups and may be on a voluntary or compulsory basis.
The Care Inspectorate works with partner agencies to undertake multi-agency
inspections of statutory services within Community Planning Partnerships and
inspections of registered services.
Complexity of the data makes it hard to be exact but indicatively around half a million
people are receiving some kind of social work or social care support in Scotland during a
Social work service spend is the second largest area of spend from local authority
budgets (after Education). In 2012-13 Social Work spend comprised £3.79 billion, or
22.2% of local authority General Fund Revenue Expenditure. The spend covers services
directly delivered by and also commissioned by Local Authority Social Work
departments as well as free personal care and self-directed support budgets.
The bulk of the spend is on older peoples services (44%), over a quarter on adult
services (28%), with slightly less than that on services for children and families (22%)
and around 5% on other services including criminal justice social work.
Excellent social services can only be delivered by a confident, dedicated and skilled
workforce that feels valued by its employers, by those who use its services and by
the wider public. Recognising the vital contribution the social service workforce
makes is key to ensuring that we sustain a viable sector for the future. Everyone
working in the sector needs to feel valued, to be inspired to improve their contribution
and to be creative and innovative in their practice.
There is a crucial role for employers across all parts of the sector to ensure that
workers have the right skills, knowledge, behaviours and values to provide high
quality services. Ensuring our workers are well supported, rewarded and motivated
is an important element of recruitment and retention – and retaining our most
experienced staff in front line practice is crucial to delivering excellent social
services. It is also important that continuous professional development and career
pathways are in place across the workforce to ensure people are equipped for their
current jobs as well as to enhance their future career prospects.
Recruitment, Retention and Reward
Current Activity
Employers are required under national Codes of Practice prescribed by the SSSC to
ensure that they adhere to safe and robust recruitment practices, as set out for
example in Safer Recruitment through Better Recruitment: Guidance in relation to
staff working in social care and social work settings, published in 2007. The Care
Inspectorate ensures that safe recruitment practices are followed and registration
with the SSSC provides additional assurance in relation to specific groups of
The SSSC has developed A Question of Care, an online resource which helps
people assess their own suitability to work in the sector. It also enables employers
and education providers to assess potential students and Job Centres to help people
considering working in social services. There is also a range of activity promoting
careers in social services, such as the Career Ambassadors programme.
New procurement legislation has given some flexibility to address the issues around
pay and rewards and statutory guidance is being developed which should include
workforce matters. The Taskforce on Residential Care for Older People has also
recommended that financial modelling should be done to look at the implications of
paying the Living Wage in the care sector. So some progress is being made on
reward which will also impact on recruitment and retention.
Current Challenges
Recruitment and retention is however a challenge in some parts of the country and in
specific - but importantly not all - parts of the sector. And whilst it is for individual
employers to develop recognition and reward systems to retain and inspire staff,
there is a challenge for parts of the sector because of the reliance on individual
employers which can be small, localised and resource-strapped. There is also
evidence that turnover is high in some areas of social care perhaps due to the
pressures workers deal with, not just in relation to workload but also to the type of
work they are engaged in.
Other more widespread challenges relate to the economic climate, outsourcing and
the current commissioning environment with its perceived emphasis on cost over the
value of the services being delivered. All of which can result in pressures on pay
and conditions which in turn impacts on morale, recruitment and retention but it can
also impact on quality of care and support provided. We would benefit from a
positive narrative about the economic contribution made by the sector and the
people who work in it. It can be referred to as “low-wage” which not only reflects
negatively on workers, but also the impression of the service given to service users.
The thread running through all workforce related activity is the need to ensure that it
aligns with and is supportive of wider workforce challenges – for example moving
towards a workforce which is fully effective in delivering integrated care and selfdirected support.
Proposed Actions
a) Review current guidance and approaches to recruitment, particularly to more
strongly incorporate values-based recruitment approaches.
b) Gather evidence to better understand the current picture of recruitment and
retention across the sector and identify priorities for enhancing career pathways.
c) Undertake work to look at improved support for workers who are dealing with
stress and complexity.
d) Consider a regular workforce survey (or standardised approaches to employer
surveys of staff) in the sector, to better understand key issues for staff.
e) Work with partners on improved approaches to workforce planning (in line with
the recent recommendation from the Residential Care Taskforce and the needs
of Integration Partnerships).
f) Undertake work to better understand investment in development of the social
service workforce in comparison to other public service workers.
g) Work with Scottish Enterprise to better understand the economic value of the
sector and promote a better narrative about its’ economic contribution.
h) Consider how the commissioning environment might be improved to value quality
as much as cost, and produce guidance to promote the importance of a Living
i) Work to ensure that new procurement guidance incorporates guidance on
workforce matters which supports fair and equitable pay and conditions.
j) Undertake analysis to better understand the scale of in-work poverty in the
sector, the impact of the benefits system and its impact on recruitment, retention,
morale and quality.
k) Consider the value of development and adoption of a shared approach in
Scotland such as that outlined in UNISON’s ethical care charter.
Leadership, Professionalism and Learning & Development
The social service workforce requires strong distributed leadership at all levels –
leadership is for everyone, not just designated leaders. Alongside this,
strengthening and protecting the professionalism of social work is a key aspect of
this strategy and is equally relevant across the whole social service workforce. So
too is ensuring that appropriate learning and development opportunities exist to
support all parts of the workforce to access appropriate career pathways and
Current Activity
Strengthening leadership at all levels in the sector, and improving citizen leadership,
is being driven by the Strategy for Building Leadership Capacity in Scotland’s Social
Services 2013-2015 and through a range of cross-sectoral leadership development
approaches. This will have a significant impact on changes in practice at individual,
organisational and partnership level. For example, the SSSC is developing an
award to accredit Chief Social Work Officers which will strengthen their role and
support succession planning.
Work to support middle managers including leadership exchanges, citizen leadership
and mentoring/coaching across statutory and commissioned services is also
continuing. There is also a significant amount of work under the banner of Public
Services Collaborative Learning which crosses all public services and has an
emphasis on developing leadership capacity.
A comprehensive range of frameworks, regulations, national standards, Codes of
Practice and learning and development infrastructure already exists to support the
delivery of a confident, skilled and dedicated social service workforce. Key supports
are qualifications-based registration of the workforce and the requirement for all
workers to adhere to the SSSC Codes of Practice. By 2020, approximately 63% of
the 191,000 workforce will be registered and qualified to nationally agreed levels.
Workforce development is on-going at a national and local level to:
develop a national learning strategy for social services.
ensure appropriate registration of the workforce as new types of services emerge
and support new workers such as health and care support workers or personal
support the workforce around specific national policies, including the review of
the National Care Standards,Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC), health
and social care integration and self-directed support,
review national qualification programmes and standards to ensure their continued
relevance, build and maintain appropriate CPD framework for all social service
promote and support effective workforce planning by employers, in conjunction
with learning providers,
ensure that the SSSC Codes of Practice for Social Service Workers and
Employers remain fit for purpose.
Current Challenges
As with other workforce issues there is a lack of consistency across the country and
across different parts of the sector. There is a perceived contrast between the
investment in developing this workforce compared to other public services, notably
health and education. A challenge exists around supporting leadership, encouraging
career progression, the existence of appropriate career pathways at all levels and
supporting practitioners to their highest level.
Newly qualified social workers would potentially benefit from a more structured
system of support in their first year of practice similar to other professions. Local
authorities which have this in place can demonstrate the value of this support which
not only impacts on effective practice but also aids retention. This would also
support Chief Social Work Officers in fulfilling their role in promoting standards of
good practice.
It is also important to support and enhance the growing professionalism of the wider
social service workforce.
Proposed Actions
a) Ensure that leadership work is linked in to the Scottish Leaders’ Forum to
explore work on public service core values and ethos for the whole workforce as
a way of dealing with professional barriers.
b) Continue to promote, enhance and implement the Leadership Strategy for Social
c) Explore options for enhancing shared/multi-professional values-based induction,
including a “passport” for induction where there are core elements.
d) Update existing induction guidance and supporting resources.
e) Explore options with partners in other sectors for a more integrated approach to
qualifications and CPD.
f) Promote learning from existing activity such as IRISS’s work on personal
outcomes and the SSSC’s Skilled Workers, Skilled Citizens project.
g) Further develop and promote the use of technology-enabled learning.
h) Continue to support the current review of the social work degree and engage with
the outcomes to support necessary actions.
i) Consider the development and resourcing of a structured framework of support
for newly qualified social workers.
j) Review the Codes of Practice for Social Service Employers and Employees to
ensure that they remain fit for purpose.
k) Consider additional approaches to support compliance with the Employer Code
such as self-assessment “health checks” .
Action Strand 2 - Performance
For excellent social services we need to know that the support and care being
delivered works and has the desired outcomes. Better understanding of the
evidence on quality and performance will lead to the improvement of services and
interventions, in turn leading to better outcomes for individuals, families and
Current Activity
A wide range of activities and tools are already in place to measure performance and
regulate services. The purpose of this strand is therefore not to duplicate or create
new performance tools, but to bring greater cohesion to the information which is
already available. It is about helping decision-makers and the public to understand
how social services are performing in Scotland. We need to understand why and
what is making the difference so that others can adopt good approaches. It is not
about ‘standardising’ performance management, rather it is about how to interpret
performance at local level to improve delivery and ensure better outcomes for
service users.
There is a wide range of work already going on in this area from Audit Scotland Best
Value Reviews, through central collection of a wide range of datasets down to local
reporting, evaluation of services and feedback through customer surveys.
In the current policy context a great deal of effort is also going into new ways of
understanding the impact and outcomes of services. This includes current work to:
Evidence the delivery of national outcomes and Single Outcome Agreements.
Develop and collate measures to demonstrate progress on the health and social
care outcomes from the integration of adult health and social care.
Understand and evidence the implementation of self-directed support.
Evidence on implementation of GIRFEC and improvement delivered through the
Whole Systems approach to Youth Justice.
Performance measurement in the context of the new structures for Community
Develop approaches to greater joint and place-based scrutiny.
Most significantly, the social services sector also has a key body responsible for
understanding performance and supporting improvement. The Care Inspectorate:
Inspects the full range of registered care services and carries out a programme of
strategic inspections.
Completed during 2012-13 a programme of inspecting social work services in all
local authorities.
Undertakes a programme of integrated inspections of services for children and
young people and adult services in partnership with other scrutiny bodies.
Inspects criminal justice social work services across all local authorities and
offender accommodation services.
Is planning a review of Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA).
Uses a cohort of strategic inspectors who have been linked to each local
authority. These link inspectors maintain a dynamic rolling intelligence approach
on social services.
Publishes thematic reports and overviews on a regular basis.
Current Challenges
It is clear that there is rich performance information available, however there are
opportunities to use this more cohesively at a strategic level. We need to develop
greater clarity, consistency and transparency on how performance can best be
interpreted, what should be measured and how it is being measured. There is a
need to build greater understanding of what good performance and high quality
services look like using feedback loops to measure progress and also engaging
service users for their feedback.
We clearly do not want to add to the current level of performance monitoring but
there is merit in a more cohesive approach to the production and use of performance
information. We also need to increase the ability to share, understand and
implement good practice based on a knowledge of what works and support a
stronger focus of effective self-evaluation which is place-based and outcomesfocussed.
At a local level there appear to be challenges in getting an effective balance between
ensuring quality and consistency of approach and minimising unnecessary
“bureaucratic” procedures/ allowing for professional judgement.
Proposed Actions
a) Improved consistency in the approach to the Chief Social Work Officer Annual
Reports through use of a template. This will enable the collation of an overview
report to inform policy and improvement across the sector.
b) Develop a blended picture of evidence from Chief Social Work Officer Reports,
Care Inspectorate information, SSSC workforce data and CCPS and Scottish
Care sector reports and from user feedback (for example through Care Opinion)
to give a more rounded picture of performance and good practice across the
c) Produce and publish an annual summary collation of key social services
performance data using specific existing datasets.
d) Learn from approaches to gathering performance information and service data in
other parts of the public sector to support alignment – particularly in the context of
Integration and the programme of work being led by the Information Services
Division within NHS National Services Scotland.
e) Support the work of the SSSC to improve the quality and accessibility of its
workforce data.
f) Develop the capability to run evidence-based programmes, engage JIT and the
SG Quality Team to work on strengthening improvement approaches in local
authorities – building on the current work of the Early Years Collaborative.
g) Identify learning from other parts of the UK and build on the 2013 and 2014
Social Services Expos to identify opportunities for national sharing of good
h) Build on recent Ministerial engagement events to ensure front line practitioners
are more strongly engaged in the development of guidance and
Action Strand 3 – Evidence
Creation and use of research and evidence has a central role in the development of
social services and professional practice. We need to know that the support and care
which individuals receive is appropriate to their needs, is effective and leads to
desired outcomes. This entails an understanding of the strengths and limitations of a
range of social services knowledge. We need to generate, coordinate, disseminate
and implement research and evidence so that it informs service users and carers in
their choices, and practitioners and managers in the on-going improvement of social
services practice and service delivery.
There is currently a great deal of activity in the production and dissemination of
research evidence and implementation in Scotland. To ensure that policy, practice
and services are informed by the evidence base, it is essential that this involves
individuals who access services, practitioners, policy-makers, researchers and social
work educators.
The approach of this strand is to maximise the potential of current research and
evidence, to identify key priorities for new research, and for the development of
models of knowledge exchange and transfer.
Current Activity
Over recent years, there have been significant developments in research and
evidence-informed practice. This includes:
An increasing interdisciplinary research base, particularly in the areas of child
care, child protection and criminal justice and a range of research activity from
large-scale funded research to small-scale practitioner research projects.
A strong infrastructure in knowledge mobilisation involving the centres of
excellence and other centres and networks, for example: IRISS, STRADA, SCLD,
CELCIS, CYCJ, DSDC, WithScotland, SCCJR, Social Services Knowledge
Increasing development in the use of logic models, improvement science,
effective research implementation models and Research Excellence Framework
(REF) impact case studies.
A range of partnership models between, government, social services
organisations and universities to develop research and evidence-informed
practice, including staff exchanges, joint appointments, collaborative training
partnerships and practitioner research schemes.
A range of learning and development opportunities, for example teaching of
research methods in social work and social care qualifying programmes.
Research methods in post-qualifying programmes, professional doctorates and
PHDs including funding through the social work and social care pathways of the
ESRC Scottish Doctoral Training Centre.
Developments in the ways in which researchers, educators, practitioners and
individuals who access services engage directly to generate, share and
implement research - for example communities of practice and knowledge hubs.
Developments in the use of new technology and social media.
Current Challenges
Current challenges include ensuring a co-production model which involves all
stakeholders, including individuals who access services, in developing priorities for
research, identifying gaps in knowledge and in identifying and disseminating good
practice. There is a need to develop a cyclical, relational process of research and
implementation to break down the traditional barriers between key stakeholders and
ensure maximum involvement and participation. Ensuring collaborative practice in all
stages of research and knowledge exchange is also key along with building on
current strengths to avoid duplication and to focus on identified key priorities. While
there are clear strengths in the development of research, knowledge mobilisation
and evidence-informed practice, there are important areas for further development.
Proposed Actions
a) Develop a co-production forum which involves all key stakeholders in developing
key priorities for a research agenda for Scotland. This will include: identifying
gaps in knowledge, mapping research and knowledge, developing research and
evidence resources, identifying good practice in knowledge mobilisation and
development of evidence-informed practice.
b) Engage with current social services leadership activities to promote research and
evidence-informed policy and practice across key organisations: this is essential
to ensure the organisational and cultural change for research, knowledge
mobilisation and evidence-informed practice is embedded in organisations.
c) Undertake work on definitions of research, knowledge exchange and mobilisation
to ensure common understanding of the issues and debates in research, and
evidence-informed practice.
d) Adopt a strategic approach to the education and development of social services
practitioners, managers, policy makers, researchers, educators and knowledge
brokers. Identify and develop best practice in knowledge exchange, mobilisation,
engagement and research implementation models.
e) Establish a research and knowledge exchange funding forum to maximise and
co-ordinate the use of existing funding opportunities for research, identify and
promote new funding sources, and promote collaborative and inter-disciplinary
research and knowledge exchange funding applications.
Action Strand 4 – Promoting public understanding
Promoting public understanding is important for the understanding and valuing of this
sector. As noted earlier, these workstrands are very much inter-related and our
aspiration for a more consistent, professional service across the sector will itself
have a positive impact on public understanding. But part of this is also about
promoting a more positive image and being open about decision-making and
accountability when things go wrong and how improvement will be made. Promoting
public understanding will help to ensure that the public have confidence in the sector
and in the crucial work undertaken.
It is an important element of this Strategy, both in terms of promoting the strategy,
whilst also being a distinct element itself. If the public image and understanding of
the sector is poor, people are less likely to engage with or seek support from
services. Equally, the staff providing these services may find it hard to stay motivated
and creative in their work. People may in turn be less likely to enter the workforce if
it is not well thought of or respected. So the wider public understanding and image
of the sector can ultimately impact on recruitment and retention as well as the quality
of provision. However, we cannot treat the sector as homogenous, as not all parts of
the sector have the same public image. We therefore need to focus on the services
where a greater public understanding could add most value.
Current Activity
A range of high profile annual activities help to promote the sector and the
individuals and teams working within it. They range from the National Care
Accolades and other award ceremonies that focus on the social work and social care
services and professions as well as specific support-focussed awards such as
dementia or residential child care. These all celebrate good and innovative practice
and are an opportunity to promote positively the innovative and inspiring work of the
Positive reporting focussed on service quality, improvement and innovation activities
will help to highlight and promote the sector. Being proactive, rather than reactive,
in sharing information will help to embed a confidence in the sector and those that
work in it.
Current Challenges
To work in social services you need to be resilient - complexity is part of everyday
practice and there are no simple solutions. The workforce needs to be both
supported and to show confidence in its skills set.
The nature of the work can lead to a workforce that is risk averse so we need to
create an environment which allows people to be innovative whilst also taking
responsibility and being accountable should things go wrong. Communications
which focus on “failures” and blaming a specific sector for a tragic event can have
far reaching consequences. So those working to ensure the robustness and quality
of the sector need to be supported to do that fully by those who have influence with
the public.
Proposed Actions
Collectively we will promote the professional role of social workers and others
working in social care, encourage the sector to be more confident in promoting what
it does well and the contribution it makes across a wide range of partnerships. There
are three main areas of activity which could promote a more positive image of the
sector: raising public awareness; engaging the media and better supporting the
sector around responsive media work.
Public Awareness
a) Undertake research into people’s perceptions of the sector and what they are
influenced by. This might involve engaging with a public relations company to
identify key areas to focus on in terms of improving public understanding. This
might also help identify the services where a greater public understanding could
add greatest value.
b) Develop a short, accessible statement that defines the sector which is clear and
understandable and which translates across all sectors. If we are to promote
social services, we all need a shared view of what we are talking about.
c) Use the Scottish Household Survey and survey of MSPs by Ipsos Mori to test
knowledge and perceptions of social services.
Engaging the Media
d) Develop a strategic approach to communications, which might include social
media campaigns and human interest stories to promote key messages about the
sector. This might also include the development of national tools to support local
media engagement.
e) Identify advocates for the sector within groups we know to be influential who can
speak up on behalf of the sector.
f) Train spokespeople at all levels across the sector in engaging with the media.
g) Engage the media to outline our vision of social services. This can build on the
fact files that some organisations have developed for journalists, secure regular
comment pieces addressing any preconception in the media and the use of TV
campaigns as a way of promoting positive stories.
Responsive Media Work
h) Develop protocols for dealing with the media around serious case reviews,
including training requirements for staff involved.
i) Develop guidelines which help us present a united front of social services and
which prevent different parts of the sector blaming each other when under
pressure. These guidelines need to be clear and make sense across all parts of
the sector.
The following boxes are examples of the kinds of case studies and examples of
stakeholder thinking which will be provided as boxed text to break up the narrative
structure of the final paper. Further examples which are identified by stakeholders
through this consultation process will be welcome for inclusion in the final strategy.
Joint Strategic Commissioning offers the opportunity for improved, integrated and outcomefocused care and support. A key factor is partnership working between commissioners and
social services providers at all stages including the assessment of needs, service planning
and local market analysis. Recent progress includes:
Social Work Scotland, CCPS, Scottish Care and JIT held a discussion seminar in May
2014 aimed at exploring the commissioner-provider relationship in relation to care at
CCPS National Conference 2014 will examine the potential for better strategic
partnerships between commissioners and providers
Scottish Government Third Sector Unit is sponsoring a programme of work to ensure
that national providers are appropriately linked in with local Third Sector Interfaces in the
context of joint strategic commissioning
Social Work Scotland has invited third and private sector provider leaders to participate
in shared action learning sets in the context of integration.
Extract from discussions at a CCPS/ADSW/JIT Joint workshop on Commissioning care and
support for people at home- new challenges and new opportunities – 8 May 2014
“To achieve the aspirations of integration, services need to be flexible, to be built around
individual and community need, to be responsive. Our current organisational, funding and
reporting structures do not support or promote these ways of working – we need to ‘unlearn’
some of our more traditional practices, and develop new understandings of what might work
To achieve the aspirations of integration and SDS, the relationship between the worker and
the person requesting support needs to change. Understanding the power relationships and
using power appropriately; nurturing the development of more equal partnerships; ensuring
that people using social services really have a voice and an influence over their care and
support are all things that we have to work towards.
The role of the commissioner, and the relationship between the commissioner and the
provider needs to look and feel different. The ways in which services are both commissioned
and monitored need to be more outcome focused and include a stronger service user voice,
and if the commissioning organisation is also providing services, they need to ensure that
they are holding themselves to account in the same way as the services they commission.
These new ways of working need different and new skills, and the workforce need to be
supported, empowered and given permission to work in these new ways.”