social care

New Year blog: learning from 2015; hopes for 2016

The blogs that I have written in 2015 show the shape of my year: January’s was on stress following a survey by Community Care; for world social work day in March I wrote about the importance to me of having a college of social work; May’s blog was about the election and its implications for social work; through the summer I wrote about the closure of the college and how we could take its legacy onwards; I finished up the year with a blog on motivation following the November spending review.

How do you motivate people?

Last week I spent the day in a supervision workshop with 25 enthusiastic social care managers looking at how they can best enable practitioners to work well.

Halfway through a discussion, one of the managers asked: ‘how do we keep motivating staff when things are so difficult, when there’s so little money and people are really struggling?’

Good question; particularly now when we have the spending review coming up fast and Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s report on poverty just out. How does a social care manager motivate staff when things are tough? Here are a few thoughts.

Supported housing, Convent style

My Aunt is a Dominican Sister (Catholic religious order) in Cape Town. She recently moved into a newly built convent that is a fantastic example of supported housing. This gave me some great insight into how to do community living well. There’s a lot we can learn from the nuns.

What makes a trustworthy assessment?

I have just completed an 18-month project with Research in Practice for Adults (RiPfA) to produce resources to help assessors carry out good assessments.

The main issue that I found was that all assessments have to be different - because people are different, yet we need to know that any assessment is good enough against some kind of universal standard.

So how do you know when an assessment can be trusted?

Best advice for leaders

There is a lot being written about leadership in social care at the moment. This is the best advice I have ever seen. It was written for me by my dad (a former management trainer) when I became a manager of other managers.


“You will be expected to be on top of your job and to have ideas. Your job is to meet your expectations and constantly seek out and argue for better ways of doing things, and even different things to be doing.


The old truths still apply:

Being kind

Recently in a workshop on supervision, I asked some new practitioners what their ideal supervisor would be like. ‘Kind’ was the first reply.

I consider that a bit more kindness in social care could help us all feel better and make more progress.

The word kind is linked to Old English gecynd, meaning nature, offspring, race. It relates to two important concepts: being natural and being alike.

How the CQC can build a safety culture

A safety culture is the outcome that organizations reach through a strong commitment to acquiring necessary data and taking proactive steps to reduce the probability of errors and the severity of those that occur.

(Merritt & Helmreich, 1997).

As the Care Quality Commission reforms and refocuses, there is a rare opportunity to build a safety culture in adult social care.

Just keep paddling

I have just spent 24 hours as part of a support team for a 125 mile canoe endurance event. Our canoeists paddled from Devizes to Westminster, through the day and night, in the rain and cold, climbing out of the canal for 77 locks, and racing to catch the tide that would take them the last 18 miles. I learned a lot about how to help keep people going under extremely difficult conditions, and I think that much of this is relevant to those who are supporting social care practitioners. So here are some thoughts for managers, workforce development - and anyone else who provides social care back-up - about how to keep practitioners going as they paddle along.

Evaluating value and valuing evaluation

I started working for myself last year. I now have nobody to blame for the following things:

  • My well-being at work
  • My work-life balance
  • My opportunities to develop and learn
  • Whether what I do makes any difference to anyone.

To help me with the last one in the list, I have just completed my Year One Review.

Where’s Tom? How to create an assessment that is about a person

Research shows that professional concerns often drown out what people think is important in their own lives. The tool ‘Sorting important to and important for’ helps to make their voices clear.


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