A recent BBC article pointed to severe overwork being the reason behind one in five Social Workers leaving their posts each year at a top UK local authority. The report cited, ‘increased demand and caseloads’, as the reasons for the departures and that, ‘we struggle to hold on to experienced and skilled Social Workers in frontline posts’. In response, the authority in question has pledged to invest £1.8 million to overhaul the operation of their Social Care services.
In investigating how to support your workforce, you need to look at what they want out of their career and what is important to them. You need to give them a sense of purpose and reward and a manageable workload. Even the greatest people can crack under too much stress.
Councils moving to new strength-based models of social care have discovered that the benefits are not just for their clients but for their social workers as well.
Kerry Keeble, Cornwall Social Worker:
“The 3 conversations model® has saved my career. I did not feel I was practising the social work I learned at university. [The model] is person-centred and I can use my own initiative. I can ask people what’s really important to them and help them make that happen.”
Therefore changes in business models can truly support your workforce, however even the best business models can fail under the strain of extreme workloads, so what other ways can the workforce be supported.
Can the latest technology help ease Social Worker workloads?
Yes. As a very simple answer. We can categorically say that technology, alongside revised process management, can significantly change the experience of Social Workers for the better.
We don’t see tech such as AI and robots taking over Social Care, but modern technology will enhance the social worker experience reducing administration and enabling them to focus on their clients. More time for professional judgement will mean better decision making and Social Workers feel more rewarded in their work. Social workers joined the profession to make a difference, not spend their time on administration.
Social Work as a professional occupation can date its roots back to 1869, nearly 150 years ago. It is an established practice and a frontline service. It is a service that is becoming overwhelmed and as suppliers to the sector have a duty to think of new and innovative ways in which we can help.
Efficiencies that are discovered need to be shared in order to save precious time each day. New ways of working or efficiencies may seem small on their own but like Sir Dave Brailsford discovered with the British Cycling team by implementing even small marginal gains, you can often pave the way to a golden future.
Investment is key and it needs to happen now, across the country to re-draw the line in terms of processes and expectations.
Since the mid-2000’s we have seen continual reductions in budget and spending, stemming from the ‘Credit Crunch’ of 2007/8. This has seen the country’s finances stretched to breaking point with frontline services such as Social Work suffering year after year to the point today where we have a crisis. We have local authorities such as the one listed in the BBC report losing experienced staff each year as they are overworked due to lack of investment. Now money could easily be ploughed into recruitment but this would only be a short-term relief.
Technology is an enabler of change
Twenty minutes per day does not sound like a lot but let us do some maths and you will see how a saving of twenty minutes per day can soon add up.
- You have 50 Social Workers in the office
- Each saves twenty minutes per day
- This adds up to 1000 or 16 hours and 40 minutes per day
- Per week this adds up to 84 hours saved
- Per year this adds up to 4368 hours or just over 118 weeks per year.
In other words a simple saving of twenty minutes per day can provide you with the resource of a member of staff over a year. This saving in time can mean the difference in staff feeling overworked or then having the time to think and make informed judgements
Twenty minutes was just an example, advances in technology can save considerably more than that through automation.
We have created our solutions directly with clients with the future in mind. We want to help create a more positive and efficient future for all. We are concerned with the bigger picture and the well-being of Social Workers and those they are charged with helping.
The software within our ECLIPSE platform based on responsive design and can be used on any device and scale accordingly. This provides workers the freedom to update notes and information at any time, direct with their clients. Add this addition to Cloud technology and you create the platform for freedom and care. It allows Social Workers to do their jobs when they need to and how they see fit. They can spend as much time as they need with their charges without having to worry about getting back to the office in order to access their notes. This is person-centred care. This is how you free up their caseloads and ensure that they stay within the profession.
By blending the freedoms provided by currently available technology with alternative models of Social Work Practice, you create a positive future for all. By combining technology solutions such as our Eclipse case management solution with our patented Three Conversations Model, you release the shackles. No other Social Care technology supplier can offer this level of service. No other supplier can promise that their technology is built with the future in mind. No other supplier has thought of another way. We have.
We believe in the importance of Social Care. We want to keep Social Workers motivated, and focused on the great job that they do. That is why we have invested in innovation in service transformation and technology to offer a solution; and a positive way forward for the care sector.