There is a multitude of Children’s Service practice models being used across the UK: reclaiming social work, restorative practice, signs of safety, the team around the relationship, the list goes on…
Some believe that Ofsted has a preferred choice but Eleanor Schooling, National Director, Social Care recently spoke out to debunk this myth. After being part of a panel at the National Learning Conference, in February, she made her experiences public.
The role of National Director, Social Care, has responsibility for leading on the design, delivery and review of Ofsted’s improvement offer to local authorities. This role focuses upon those authorities that have received inadequate or requiring improvement ratings. Within a recent blog Eleanor wrote:
Perhaps I should start with some myth-busting. Ofsted has no preferred model of practice. We do not endorse one over another. What we look for, as in all areas of inspection, is the impact the model has on children’s progress and experiences.
Buy in across the organisation is required
Within Ms. Schooling’s blog she wrote about the variation in which some models are implemented:
We’ve found significant variation in how well some models are implemented. What is clear from inspection though is that any model used is more likely to be effective if a ‘whole system’ approach is taken to implementation, and staff are given significant support to use it from leaders at every level.
Having a model of practice that is understood and embedded across the whole local authority is a development that we absolutely welcome.
Essentially, the point that Ms. Schooling was making is that it doesn’t matter which model you decide to implement, it matters that it comes from the top down. If the management at the top level does not embrace the new model, then it will be incredibly difficult for it to effectively permeate across the organisation and make a difference to those who need help.
Any action taken without the buy-in of senior management is essentially doomed to fail.
Whichever model you use, the focus is crucial
Eleanor Schooling's main point on her review of different models is that the impact of whatever model you choose needs to be positive. It needs to be in the best interest of the child. The model must not be focused on itself but the positive impact it has on the Child and family. If the Child and family need support to thrive then you need to ensure that your model provides an appropriate level of support at the right time.
Bandwidth is essential
Too often, the stress and workload that is placed upon Children’s Services can cause robotic approaches. The benefits of whichever Social Care model is used are only realised when the professional is able to really understand the situation of each child and family and use their professional judgement to deliver the best support.
IT systems can help. Software supporting Social Care needs to be intelligent enough to fully support the process and reduce administration. The social worker needs to be focused on the children and families, understanding how they can support their strengths and support them to live better lives. Too much focus on admin and processes does not provide them with the right environment. Even the best professionals need the bandwidth to effectively use their professional judgement. Whichever model is used the focus must be on supporting the professionals to have the headspace to focus on real social work, otherwise under stress mistakes will happen.
Social Care is not an island
Within the report, Ms. Schooling, went on to speak about joint working.
In some LAs, there are still barriers to effective multi-agency working.
…risks to children and their families can be more easily missed if agencies that work with them are not involved in joint strategy discussions.
Modern technology must assist with multi-agency working. It must streamline the process of working between agencies, making the flow of information as easy as possible while protecting the security of sensitive information.
Collaborative working is essential. This is why technology supporting Children’s Services must be able to support multi-agency working.
Technology must have both:
1: Open APIs to be able to seamlessly integrate
2: A sophisticated security model to enable joint working on the same application.
Modern technology also needs to work on any device and operating system, as you have no control over the devices your partners might be using.
Eclipse: Built to support better outcomes
Since day one OLM has maintained the firm belief that technology is an enabler of change. Technology can aid efficiency and give those in need more of a chance. We believe technology enables good Social Care to flourish. Regardless of whether it is Children’s or Adults, technology can make the difference between a successful implementation of a model of practice: one that has a positive effect on transforming lives.
This is why we have invested millions in the first next-generation Social Care software: Eclipse
By embracing technology such as OLM’s pioneering, Eclipse case management solution, your model of care receives the following benefits:
You will be able to use the solution anytime, anywhere and on any device
If you can use Facebook, then you can use Eclipse, minimum training is required for the ‘pick-up and go’ solution, improving efficiency
The system should guide you through the process to support your model of working, reducing administration and provide you with the headspace to offer the best support to the child and family
Enhanced Security for Multi-Agency Working
Only those who should see the case, can see the case. Access is controlled right down to the case note level
New models of Social Care will come and go (or at the very least be enhanced over time). The IT system you use needs to be flexible enough to support this change. The tail should not wag the dog, modern technology like Eclipse supports the way you want to work
If you would like any additional information related to anything mentioned to how we can help support your transformation then please contact us today.