On World Social Work Day, Colum Conway, Chief Executive of Social Work England, explains why professional regulation needs to be in a better position to provide a more responsive and proportionate approach, work collaboratively and re-focus on ‘up stream’ working.
For those of us who have been in or around professional regulation for the past seven years conversations about reform in practice and legislation are familiar ground. There is a genuine desire in the sector for change. Professional regulation needs to be in a better position to provide a more responsive and proportionate approach and to introduce practice methods that are more collaborative and preventative in nature. The focus must be on investment in ‘up stream’ working.
For me, the policy decision by government to establish Social Work England provides a specific focus on social workers and the social work profession. It is underpinned by the desire for change, to do things differently in the regulation of social workers and to have a different more dynamic impact on social work practice through a whole new approach. Our challenge is to fully embrace this desire for change within a robust regulatory framework.
Throughout the set up phase of the organisation it has been important for us to develop our standards, rules and processes within this context of change and innovation. Most importantly, through involving those who will be impacted by that change and innovation. Supporting people coming into the organisation to focus on the ways in which we will do things differently has been fundamental to our approach.
It has helped greatly that we been established under new legislation that contains many of the key elements that are proposed as part of the reform of professional regulation. This is one of the most interesting challenges, to be at the front edge of innovation in this area, developing new ways of working to implement new approaches and leading and enabling change.