New model for social work launched in Aberdeen

Aberdeen City Council has launched a £3million overhaul of social work services that will cut down on red tape and allow staff to spend more time with families.

The local authority is the first in Scotland to fully implement the Reclaiming Social Work model, which is aimed at reducing the number of children in care and delivering more positive outcomes for children and families across the city.

Large numbers of council staff have already undergone additional training as part of the ongoing transformation of the service, with further sessions planned this year.

The system was designed in recognition that social workers across the UK were increasingly required to spend time on paperwork, with a reduction in the time spent working directly with children and families.

The London Borough of Hackney developed the Reclaiming Social Work approach, which led to a significant reduction in the number of children subject to care orders in the area, as well as a budget saving of about £3million. Reclaiming Social Work

The senior management team in Hackney subsequently set up a social enterprise, Morning Lane Associates, which has since worked with Aberdeen City Council's Children's Services Management Team.

The new model has required a significant restructure, moving from a traditional team system with individual social workers managed by a team manager to small units with a small number of staff working with a number of children and families.

The adoption of the small unit means that there are no families dependent on the service provided by just one practitioner.

In the existing model, the service received by families is only as good as the individual social worker, while the new model ensures a sharing of assessment, planning and review within a group of staff.

By implementing the Reclaiming Social Work model, it is hoped that more children can remain at home with their families.

The cost of secure residential care is more than £5,000 per week, with residential schools costing between £2,800 and £4,800 a week and residential crisis support costing about £5,000 a week.

It is also hoped that the new system will lead to a reduction in staff sickness levels of 50%, while the amount of time spent by social workers directly with families and children could increase by two or three times.

Councillor Lesley Dunbar, Aberdeen City Council's social care spokeswoman, said: "We are confident that this will deliver a better and more family friendly service for the city. There is clear evidence that that has been the case in Hackney.

"This has also involved an immense amount of work for our staff across social work and children's services directorate, all of whom have really responded well and undertaken the retraining that has been required."

For more information about Reclaiming Social Work in Aberdeen or about jobs in Children's Social Work in the city please contact us by e-mail: together@aberdeencity.gov.uk or by phone on 01224 522533 or at our website http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/jobs_careers/jobs_and_careers.asp