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Evaluation of Named Social Worker (NSW) Pilot concluded. What next?

In 2016, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) initiated the Named Social Worker (NSW) pilot ‘to build an understanding of how a named social worker can help to improve outcomes for individuals with learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions’. The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE)  was commissioned to run the pilot scheme in 6 locations

The Pilot has now concluded, and the SCIE  has reported on its findings – details here. The Report is generally favourable, having analysed three area of impact: Impact on the individuals and the people around them, Impact on the named social workers, Impact on the wider system.

This is how the SCIE summarised the pilot’s results:

Impact on the individuals and the people around them

  • trusted relationships with people supported by services and those around them
  • increased and meaningful opportunities for people to shape their plans that respond to individual communication needs and preferences
  • new packages of support that better meet their strengths, aspirations and needs and those of the people around them
  • high levels of satisfaction reported including that people felt that the named social worker listened to them and acted on their behalf
  • evidence that people have been better able to live the lives they want including faster and smoother discharges, restrictive decisions overturned and greater stability of placements.

Impact on the named social workers

  • increased levels of skills, knowledge and confidence to do good social work e.g. the NSW survey found that confidence to meaningfully engage the person they are working with and those round them to deliver a person-centred plan increased from 47% to 94%
  • confidence to advocate for the people they work with and bring their voices to the fore e.g. the NSW survey found that confidence to constructively challenge other professionals/ services increased from 43% to 88%
  • higher levels of satisfaction with quality of work.

Impact on the wider system

  • evidence base of good social work in the local context and what it takes to put it into practice
  • evidence of reduced costs for packages of care
  • better cross-service coordination
  • supporting and complementing other strategic developments and policy areas locally
  • positive return on investment -a predictive financial return on investment (FROI) exercise suggested that the FROI of the NSW pilot was positive for all sites and generated a NSW FROI of 5.14, meaning that every £1 invested would anticipate a saving or costs avoided of £5.14. Of these costs avoided, 89% were anticipated to benefit the local authorities.

 

The obvious question is ‘What Next?’ The SCIE states only that its report “… is aimed at other local authorities or commissioners interested in learning how a NSW approach can improve outcomes, have a positive impact on social worker’s skills, confidence and motivation and reduce costs”.

In the current circumstances, ‘reduced costs’ may be the biggest selling-point. The author of this blog post of course remembers when his own autistic son had a designated social worker. But the local authority cancelled this offer – to save costs (and to give me the joy of repeating myself over and over again  in future conversations with duty social workers in the ’emergency team’). I will try to keep you updated.

 

 

 

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