How we work with children, young people and adults in Scotland is changing – that was the key message when Orkney celebrated International Social Work Day.
Iona Colvin, Chief Social Work Adviser to the Scottish Government gave a brief explanation of the many different pieces of legislation and reports which are contributing towards this shift in how Scotland responds to the social needs of her people.
The integration of Health and Social Care, Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) and Community Justice Partnerships were 3 key topics covered in her presentation in St Magnus Centre on Tuesday 19th of March. Iona Colvin spoke of the challenges when attempting to knit together different systems with one of the most obvious being the language people use. Communication between different sectors, all with the ultimate aim of supporting people in society, can be hindered when there is a difference in understanding over the terminology used.
There is a significant recruitment and retention problem in social services across Scotland although the local reasons for this differ. Iona Colvin stressed that social care needs to present itself as a positive career choice but “how do we bring in people?” and how do we develop and support them? Social Services in Scotland are developing a relationships based approach but this takes time. The role of the Scottish Government is to support and implement change.
Iona Colvin said:
“In a country this size we should be able to do better.”
One of the most important pieces of work undertaken in Scotland is the Independent Care Review.
In a joint presentation Jimmy Paul and Fiona Duncan from the Independent Care Review explained how the root and branch review of Scotland’s ‘care system’ has developed. The Care Review is independent of political parties and government which Fiona Duncan ‘treasures’. Central to the review is the active participation of care experienced young people and adults.
“Between February and December 2017, 854 people with care experience shared their voice and said what matters to them.” Fiona Duncan, A Journey – Independent Care Review.
“The starting point is that Scotland’s children have the happy, healthy childhood they deserve and feel loved and cherished. Children should not have to be the navigators of a complicated , jargon filled system.”
Establishing the Independent Care Review was a commitment made by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. At its launch in 2017 Nicola Sturgeon said:
“Every young person should have an equal opportunity to succeed in life, no matter their circumstances. We should celebrate the progress that has been made that has allowed many of our young people who grow up in care to do great things in life – and those who work with looked after children do an amazing job.
“However, we know that there are still many challenges facing young people in care and that their opportunities are all too often not the same as other young people in Scotland. The care system must and can do better by our most vulnerable children and young people. They need to know they are loved and feel cared for – this review is not about determining if this can be achieved, but how we create a system that puts love for the children it cares for at its heart.”
Jimmy Paul shared his story as a cared for young person, “Love is the thing that is most important”, he concluded.
The pivotal role of love and the building of relationships is what is driving change in Scotland’s care system. All along the route of its journey care experienced children, young people and adults are involved in developing the review.
The Independent Care Review has 4 stages, each one building on the previous stage: orientation, discovery, journey and destination. You can read more about the review here: Independent Care Review.
Its success will depend upon the continued involvement of those with experience of the care system, those who work in the sector embracing the culture shift and the support of the Scottish Government to facilitate the changes needed to:
” deliver lasting change in the ‘care system’ and leave a legacy that will transform the life chances and wellbeing of infants, children and young people in care.” A Journey – Independent Care Review.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame