Making the Social Work Health Check work for PSWs

Stephen Rice
Practice Development Manager and Principal Social Worker

17 July 2019

As a Principal Social Worker (PSW), I know that completing the annual Social Work Health Check survey required by the LGA’s ‘Standards for Employers of Social Workers in England’ can be a time-consuming and fraught exercise. This feeling is often compounded by the feeling that the findings just aren’t as useful as they could, or should, have been.

To address this, What Works for Children’s Social Care is collaborating with the LGA, Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and the Principal Social Workers Network to make the Social Work Health Check more user-friendly tool that provides a solid measure of social worker health and wellbeing.

The Health Check is supported by clear guidance from the LGA, but there is no standardised way of running it or agreed set of questions to ask. Our new project aims to build a national Social Work Health Check template to offer a standardised survey for PSWs to use in their own authorities and an analytics suite to help them present findings and influence their senior leadership teams. This is a massive opportunity to build a really meaningful understanding of how happy and healthy our social work workforces are, and what types of things can have a positive and negative influence.

Using standardised questions will make the survey much easier to administer – PSWs will have a survey which is ready-made and uses questions which are pre-tested for reliability and validity. This will also allow data to be collated and developed into local, regional and national pictures. The project will provide an analytics toolkit to allow PSWs to present meaningful reports and recommendations, helping them to be effective as the voice for practice in their senior leadership teams.The proposed system will be user-friendly – providing the standard survey plus the ability to personalise and add questions in a survey platform, then presenting the results back in a useful format using a dashboard and visualisations.

Over time, as the evidence base builds for workforce health, it will allow senior leadership teams to identify challenges and respond to improve their workforce wellbeing, and therefore staff recruitment and retention. Most importantly, it is helping create an evidence base for what works to improve wellbeing for social workers, which is then expected to have positive effects on the children in children’s social care.

We are inviting PSWs to participate in two co-production sessions to ensure that the survey questions and processes are responsive to PSWs’ needs and informed by the wide experience of delivering the survey in hundreds of Children’s Services departments across the UK. If you have strong views about the SW Health Check, experience of grappling with the challenges of implementing it, suggested questions to be included in the survey, or great ideas about the types of things it should be analysing, this is a chance to really influence what it looks like going forward.

The two co-production sessions will be:
Monday 29 July 11am – 3pm Doncaster Children’s Trust
Monday 5 August 11am – 3pm SCIE Offices, Baker St, London

The Project is being led by Islington PCFSW, Stephen Rice. If you would like to attend either sessions, or have any further questions, please contact Stephen Rice.