Change that leads to better lives

Community-led Social Work – devolving choice, control and power

Three years ago, People2People set out on a journey to change the way adult social work is delivered in Shropshire. Operating as a social enterprise led by staff and community members, we have shown that it is possible to provide a swifter, more responsive service with reduced bureaucracy and a greater focus on connecting people to community resources and networks.

People2People now delivers most community-based adult social work and occupational therapy in the area, resulting in improved outcomes for local people, a more motivated staff team and significant efficiencies for the council.

Our experience shows that it is possible to redesign processes and change the culture of practice. Social workers are encouraged to have ‘different conversations’ to capture information about what really matters to the person and their family. The emphasis is on preventative support through information, advice and face-to-face discussions where needed, which mostly take place in familiar community settings. Traditional service solutions are only considered once natural and community supports have been exhausted.

Community-led social work is made possible by the Care Act which allows local authorities to delegate social work functions and develop alternatives to traditional delivery models. We believe community-led voluntary organisations delivering social work could be transformative, enabling a culture shift to person-centred, outcomes-focused practice, as well as financial savings.

NDTi is now working with three more areas to develop their own locally tailored models based on our learning in Shropshire and we are inviting further expressions of interest.

Jenny Pitts will be joined by David Brindle, Guardian Public Services editor and NDTi board chair, colleagues from People2People and Shropshire Council to discuss their work at the forthcoming National Children & Adult Services Conference.

This piece first featured on the Department of Health Social Care blog.

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