Withdrawal of face to face social work assessment services is a cause for concern

Lanark Gazette
Written by: 
Janet Moxley
Wed, 2016-06-22
Lanark Council Office, South Vennel St

South Lanarkshire Greens are worried that cuts to frontline social services could leave vulnerable people at risk. From 20th June, Social Work reception teams will be pulled out of the South Vennel area office and relocated to a call centre in Hamilton. This means that people needing to contact social services for the first time will no longer be able to have face to face contact with the a social worker and social work staff will not longer be able to make home visits as part of the initial assessment process. Although this will not affect  people who are already in contact with social services, the social work reception team is the initial point of contact for new cases, for example, people needing home care for the first time or families  seeking respite care for an elderly or vulnerable relative.
 Janet Moxley, speaking for the Greens commented "Social workers support some of the most vulnerable people in our community and those facing crises. The decision to centralise social workers in Hamilton means that anyone not currently involved with Social Work and looking  to access social care will be dealing with a call centre. The only way they will get access to a human being is if its an emergency.
 " It can be very distressing for families to have to seek help for a relative for example, and a face to face meeting can help to provide reassurance in a way that a phone call cannot. Also, face to face meetings enable staff to make a much more comprehensive assessment than they can in a phone call.
"Call centres are cold and anonymous at the best of times and their impersonal nature makes them unsuitable for dealing with many of the cases which need social work support. This increases the risk that the needs of really vulnerable people fall through the net. "This change is being presented as a cost saving exercise forced on a cash-strapped council, but the council has somehow been able to find  the funds to fit out the new call centre. Staffing costs have not been  reduced as the staff from the area office have simply been redeployed  to the call centre. There seems to be some "smoke and mirrors"  accounting going on here which will result in more services being centralised in Hamilton and a reduction in the standard of social service support in Clydesdale."