Social Care course praised by students

Issue date: 25 February 2011

A long standing partnership between the University of the West of England and Somerset County Council Social Services is helping Social Care workers develop more confidence at carrying out challenging roles with a growing set of demands.

Unlike qualified Social Workers who have completed a three year degree programme with work placement practice, there are many people who work in demanding roles within Social Services settings, who are required to cope with increasing responsibility.

To help support these workers UWE and Somerset County Council have worked together for the past five years to offer day release courses that help them gain better understanding of the wider context of their roles and to develop their practical skills.

The courses have been so successful that two years ago they were taken up by Bristol City Council and the award leaders are now in discussion with other councils in the region to extend the training opportunity to more workers. The courses are run by Karen Jones and Susan Walton at UWE.

Susan Walton said, “Many people working in unqualified roles in the social care sector have had more demands placed on them over the past few years. We were approached by Somerset County Council some years ago now to develop a course that would give these workers a good grounding in key social work principles and practice.

What has happened during this time is fantastic to see. We've had some amazing testimonials from students some of whom have gained the confidence to train as full time social workers… many mature people who thought that higher education wasn't a possibility for them but have gone on to get degrees.”

“Karen Jones, Professional Lead on the Social Work course at UWE, said “We cover a range of areas that are included on the three year degree course such as social policy, psychology, law, key concepts in social work and skills in social care and there is also space for practice based project work. Students who complete the two year course can apply to join the second year of the Social Work Degree Course.

Miriam Madison, Corporate Director Community Services at Somerset County Council, said “We are pleased with the success of our partnership with UWE in developing this Award for Adult Social Care staff within the Authority. As they use the knowledge gained on the course, workers are able to reflect on their practice and feel more confident to advocate on behalf of Service Users and Carers. Our focus has been to up skill our workforce, to support them in their practice, and some have also grasped the opportunity to undertake Social Work training and embark on their Newly Qualified year and Post Qualifying Awards.

Student case study one
Lynn Metcalf – working at Somerset County Council as a fully qualified social worker
Lynn Metcalf is a now fully qualified Social Worker who graduated from UWE last summer. Lynn was one of the first students from Somerset County Council to be seconded to the programme in 2006. She said, “I left school after doing GCSEs so for me the less intensive academic route gave me the time to gain necessary experience about learning how to study. Learning at school was based on memory and learning facts so it was really good to find out more about studying at a higher level. Completion of the course gave me the courage to apply to do the full Degree in Social Work, something that I would never have previously contemplated. I am now a fully qualified social worker and I love my job. Sue Walton who runs the course was such a brilliant tutor, really outstanding, I can't speak highly enough of her commitment to students.”

Case study two
Angela Morgan – working at Somerset County Council in Adult Care
Angela Morgan works as an Adult Social Care Worker for Somerset County Council. She has worked in this role for over eight years. She did not get the chance to go to university first time round and says this has been an eye opener for her, “Both of my children have gone on to get first class degrees but it was not something I considered when I was younger. Coming to university on the day release course has done so much for my confidence not just in the work role here in Somerset but more widely. We carry out assessments to ascertain what peoples care needs are and either arrange services through the providers that Somerset County Council use or else give information for people to make their own arrangements.

“I started the day release course at UWE in 2009 and will finish this summer. It has helped enormously to gain a better understanding of the theory behind the practice. Despite a 120 mile round trip to Bristol from South Somerset and a very early start time on my University days, it's been well worth it and I would recommend the course to anyone. I'm not sure yet if I will carry on and do the full degree but for me the biggest bonus has been the chance to reflect and the opportunity to dip into University life.”

Case study three Sharon McTiernan – Assessment Review Coordinator – Bristol City Council
Sharon McTiernan works as an Assessment Review Coordinator for Bristol City Council as part of an integrated multi agency mental health team. She says, “I mainly work with post 65 years adults and have been in this role for almost nine years. I originally started to train as a nurse but decided to change direction and have held many roles in health and social care. The client group I work with have complex mental health needs and although this can be challenging it is also very interesting and rewarding. I'm involved in carer assessments and meeting the needs of carers, as many people who are caring for older people find they are isolated and unsupported".

“I'm finding this course to be really beneficial. There are no professional qualifications for my role so the course has presented me with a good opportunity to be better informed. I've always been interested in Social Work and the insight provided through doing the course has improved my confidence and my practice. An example of this is in meetings; I am now far more self assured and therefore more inclined to contribute. Also going back to doing exams has been good if not a little daunting. I really feel that Susan Walton, my personal tutor, has been so very supportive – she's just brilliant. I would love to do the degree course in the future.”

FFI: Jane Kelly or Mary Price, Press Officers


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