The Association of Directors of Social Work (ADSW) is developing a campaign to improve understanding of social work services in Scotland amongst the public and the wide range of stakeholders with which we work.
At the public launch of this initiative delegates share their reactions.
I'm inspired by some of the practice that's in place. I'm really inspired by some of the local authorities and how they're run. I'm inspired by the over-arcing care plans that are provided for people who have really high dependency needs. And that doesn't fall to our healthcare colleagues. We, as a social work sector, can provide that, and that does inspire me.
I think people who do use social services have a very good view of social work generally. However I think sometimes people don't maybe perceive social work in a wider sense, so I would say they value their home care, but they don't maybe associate their home care with a wider social work service, or maybe regard it as social work.
I actually think social workers are much higher regarded than perhaps many people think. I think the problems, if they are problems, are often caused by some of the media stories. Because social workers do an amazing amount of work in often extremely difficult circumstances.
We can't afford to have a social work workforce that isn't valued and recognized, because the job they do is so vital to our society. We need to have the public having a greater understanding of what they're doing and valuing the work.
The difficulty, I think, arises when the media at a national level get a hold of a story where something goes wrong, and often that can result in very negative coverage. That can have a poor effect on staff morale and on public perceptions for a time, but then it tends to revert back to a more positive view after that has passed.
One of the first things we need to do is get better at explaining what social workers and what social service workers do. Because I think people understand what nurses and teachers and doctors do, but they're not very clear about what social workers do, and we have a responsibility to explain that.
Generally, the picture of social work is quite positive in respect of the public's understanding of social work. But I think that understanding maybe is restricted to one or two key areas. I think what we need to do is to extend that understanding across the complex and quite diverse areas that make up social work and social care in Scotland.
I think unfortunately maybe the wider public who haven't used social work services, they really see what's in the media and then often those are the negative stories about social work, so they're influenced by those negative stories. And that's really without perhaps personally having an experience with social work intervention.
It continues to be about supporting people who need that support, but very much encouraging people to do as much as they can for themselves. Not to take away people's independence, because we all want that, and that's what we get our self respect from.