Chief Social Worker visits SEQOL

By Anita Jaynes on January 01, 2014

The UK’s Chief Social Worker has visited SEQOL in a bid to find out more about the benefits of social workers working within a social enterprise.

When SEQOL was formed in October 2012, it was created as a social enterprise, with employees owning a share of the company and having a much larger say in the day to day management and its strategic direction.  SEQOL provides adult social care in the Swindon area.

Social work in the UK is undergoing changes, which has started with the appointment of Lyn Romeo as Chief Social Worker for Adults, responsible for supporting and steering the profession in what is often very challenging and complex work.  A network of Principal Social Workers (PSW) was also set up last year to ensure representation from adult social care departments across the country.

SEQOL Operational Coordinator, Ruth Gumm, who acts as the organisation’s PSW, attended a PSW Network meeting with Lyn Romeo last year and invited her to visit SEQOL to see how the structure of the organisation benefits social care.

During Lyn Romeo’s visit to SEQOL, she visited Swindon’s social workers at both the headquarters in North Swindon as well as those based at the Great Western Hospital.  She spoke to them to explain how the new role of Chief Social Worker would work and how it would affect them.  She also wanted to speak to those ‘on the ground’ to find out their thoughts on the effectiveness of the current structure of social work, especially in relation to being employed by a social enterprise.

Feedback from most of the social workers was that the social enterprise structure allowed more flexibility and creativity, and that they felt able to make suggestions and be confident that they would be considered and implemented if possible, with a strong focus on continuing to develop services for local people.

Additionally, she met with SEQOL chief executive Heather Mitchell and the director of social care for Swindon Borough Council, John Gilbert.

Ruth Gumm said: “The introduction of the role of Chief Social Worker and the Principal Social Workers network is a positive step for the development of adult social care across the country.

“Lyn Romeo’s visit gave us a useful insight into national developments in adult social care, as well as giving her the opportunity to pass on our learning and experience to social work departments across the country.

“SEQOL’s social care team takes an integrated approach with other services to ensure a client’s overall health and wellbeing is being supported, so it was very beneficial to be able to spend time focused on this one crucial aspect to ensure best practice.”

For more information on SEQOL, visit www.seqol.org