Her name is Yoshimi, she’s a blackbelt in karate


Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another” Carl Sagan, Cosmos (2002)

The final report was published this week on learning from the Named Social Worker for adults with learning disabilities pilots.  The key finding, just over 10 years since Putting People First was published, is that named workers are helping in putting people at the heart of social work.

Having been involved in both stages of the pilots over the last two years, it feels like this is a small but important outcome.  Verification that relational approaches secure better outcomes when backed up by legally literate social work case based reasoning which upholds the inherent dignity of all human beings.  The best outcomes, however come when the social worker sees their role as being one of fighting to uphold the person’s human rights and secure the adjustments they need to their environment and social networks.  These social workers see themselves as being armed with the power of justice and understand it is their job to wield their power with care in defense of the person so that their voice is heard, their wishes and feelings understood, and they are able to regain control and dignity in their lives.  Social workers who know when to use their power and when not to do so.

To quote Lady Hale:

“45. [it is] axiomatic that people with disabilities, both mental and physical, have the same human rights as the rest of the human race… This flows inexorably from the universal character of human rights, founded on the inherent dignity of all human beings.” “Cheshire West“ Supreme Court Ruling, (2014)

Our learning is that this isn’t a special “named” social work role, this is a roll all social workers should want to embrace.  Social workers are natural agitators, advocates, argumentors.  Making the case for social justice for learning disabled people is in DNA of social work.  rebalancing systemic inequality is what social work was designed to do.  As argued by @vasilios_ social work is by nature activist and radical.  The named social worker pilots have provided further learning that rights-based practice is who social workers are.  And that the best outcomes for people are secured by practitioners who confidently embrace this aspect of their role.

Easy Read Version

This blog is about people with learning disabilities having access to their own, named social worker.

The Department of Health wanted to find out if this is good thing. They asked local authorities to take part in the Named Social Worker project.

We got help from self-advocacy groups called Lead the Way and Bradford Talking Media.

We wanted to be part of this project because we want to improve the way social workers work with people with learning disabilities.

We think that social workers control the lives of people with learning disabilities too much.

We believe in the social model of disability. The social model says that people are disabled because the world is not accessible enough.

We think that people with learning disabilities are not treated fairly.

We are not happy that people with learning disabilities get put in long stay hospitals. This happens because staff think they are a risk to themselves or other people.

Social workers often try to protect people with learning disabilities from risk. This means that people do not get to make choices for themselves.

People with learning disabilities should be allowed to make their own decisions. Social workers and staff should not stop people making their own choices even if they disagree with them.

We think that people’s families should be listened to better. They should be helped to get support in the community.

When families do ask for help, their loved should not be sent to a care home or hospital. This is too restrictive.

We think that people are kept in hospitals and units for too long. Long term care does not help people.

We want more to be done to get people back home.

We think that social workers should always think about Human Rights. They should help people and not just tell them what to do.

Social workers should give advice and help people to access support. They should tell people what is available in the community.

We hope that this project will improve the way social workers support people with learning disabilities.


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