Celebrating the contribution of social workers on World Social World Day

Image: World Social World Day

Published: 15 March 2022

Tuesday 15 March is an important date in the social work calendar, as we come together on World Social Work Day to celebrate and promote the positive contributions of the profession to individuals, families, communities and wider society.

This year the theme is Co-building a New Eco-Social World: Leaving No One Behind.

To celebrate World Social Work Day, we are highlighting the pivotal role that social work colleagues play in helping to deliver our integrated health and social care services. By focusing on what matters to the people who use our services and working closely with their families and partner organisations, they are able to support people to live well and independently in their communities.

Deputy Director of Adult Social Care, Sharon O’Reilly, said: “We were one of the first NHS trusts in England to integrate acute hospital care, community healthcare and adult social care. By changing how we deliver health and social care services, we have been able to put people at the centre and integrate services around them, working with their families and our partners to provide support and care that is timely, accessible, personalised and compassionate.

“Our social workers are an essential part of this collaborative approach and World Social Work Day is an opportunity to say thank you to them for their contribution to supporting and empowering children, adults and families to make important choices about the direction of their lives. I would also like to commend the teams on their commitment, resilience and creativity during the pandemic.

“World Social Work Day is also an opportunity to come together to consider the future and how we address the inequalities that many of our people still face. This year I’m proud to be hosting our event ‘Co-building a new eco-social world: leaving no one behind’. The event is part of an international initiative that brings together social work colleagues and the communities they work within to make contributions to a set of values and principles that address inequalities while living in balance with nature and protecting the planet.

Social workers in Torbay and South Devon are working with the families of people who access their services and partner organisations, such as Devon Partnership NHS Trust, to help provide the best possible care and make a real difference to their lives. Here are two case studies which demonstrate the commitment of teams to caring for people by focusing on what matters to them and putting their needs at the centre of how services are organised and delivered.

Dylan’s story

Dylan is in his thirties and has complex mental health needs including schizophrenia and Asperger’s and was living in a residential care home, with stable mental health, for six years. He had hopes and aspirations for his future and wanted independence but acknowledged he has been living in fear and remained in the care home because it was what he knew.

However, Dylan’s family was worried his mental health would deteriorate if he left the care home. The Torbay and South Devon Community Mental Health team felt Dylan had scope to be more independent and discussed with the family and Dylan how he could transition to more independent living, without compromising his mental health.

Dylan now lives in a supported living placement with his own room, a shared lounge, kitchen and bathroom and has background enabler care workers during the day. He has a voluntary job, goes to the gym, swims, attends a chess club, and is about to do a mindfulness course. He aspires to study at college.

Through an integrated approach to his care, Dylan has replaced his formal support network of care and is building his own informal support network in the community. Dylan, like many people, still has challenges, needs guidance and support, but he is now living more independently.

Elsie’s story

Elsie is 71 with a diagnosis of depression and has lived in a residential care home for 12 years. Last year, she expressed that she would like to move out of residential care and live more independently. Elsie was supported with her request and was moved to live in a flat, as part of an extra care housing scheme.

The social worker who helped was able to challenge assumptions around age allowing Elsie to achieve her much desired return to independent living in the community.

Although Elsie receives care visits she is taking responsibility for tasks such as cooking and cleaning, travelling on public transport and is now attending church, something that she always loved doing.

Elsie said: “I much prefer living in my new accommodation. I felt institutionalised living in residential care and I wanted to move out for a long time. My social worker supported and listened to me and was able to put my wishes into practice.”