The Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers (NIASW) has welcomed the publication of a report on the future of adult social care. The report was produced by a panel of social care experts established by former Minister of Health Michelle O’Neill MLA in December 2016.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Carolyn Ewart, NIASW Country Manager said: “Social care workers are the bedrock of our health and social care system. They provide invaluable support services to some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Social workers work hand in glove with social care colleagues and we are fully aware of the strain social care staff are under.”
Social workers arrange the delivery of social care services for a wide range of people, including older people, and people with a learning disability, a physical disability, or a mental health problem.
Discussing the challenges faced by the social care sector Ms Ewart (pictured) explained: “The expert panel highlights social work can play a leadership role in reframing social care. There are extreme pressures in the social care system and the first step in showing leadership is calling for the necessary resources to be made available to ensure services are properly funded. This is vital if people who rely on social care, and their families, are to be provided the assistance they need to live independently and with dignity. Central to the delivery of high quality services is enabling staff to spend meaningful time with service users, paying heed to their emotional as well as their physical needs.”
Carolyn continued by commenting on the report’s recognition of the need to improve the status of care work, saying: “The health and social care system only operates well if there are enough social care workers to meet the ever-increasing demand. Central to attracting and retaining staff is having a motivated, valued and well-respected workforce, with social care becoming a career of choice.”
Ms Ewart concluded by saying: “Today’s report recognises the need for change, and highlights that in its current form, social care is a system collapsing in slow-motion. The needs of users of social care should be the top priority of all involved and we urgently require political leadership to take the tough decisions needed to deliver a social care system to be proud of.”