Chief Social Worker visits Northumberland
England’s Chief Social Worker met adults with learning disabilities who receive support at a day centre in Alnwick.
The visit was part of a tour of Northumberland to see how adult social care is delivered in the county through a partnership between Northumberland County Council and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
Chief Social Worker for Adults Lyn Romeo met adults with learning disabilities, staff and social workers at the Pottergate Centre in Alnwick, where she learnt how an innovative technique is being used to help people to talk about difficult subjects.
‘Josephine’ is a life-size cloth woman which can be used by people to express their feelings about difficult subjects such as bereavement.
The first ‘Josephine’ workshops took place at Pottergate, and other workshops are now being planned in Tynedale and Blyth.
Ms Romeo said: “I was very interested to hear at first-hand how ‘Josephine’ has helped people to communicate their feelings. The adults with learning disabilities I met were very interested to hear that we don’t have a ‘Josephine’ doll in London and they have asked me to arrange for her to visit groups there.
“This is a very creative, innovative way of working. I was very impressed by the communication, engagement and relationship-building skills of the social workers, and the way in which their work is empowering and enabling the women they work with to have control and choice over how they live their lives.”
During the visit, Ms Romeo also attended a training session for social workers where she heard how newly-qualified social workers are benefiting from the Assessed and Supported Year of Employment (ASYE). This was followed by a meeting with Northumberland County Councillor Susan Dungworth, policy board member for adult care and public health, and Daljit Lally, executive director of wellbeing and community health services, alongside practising social workers, at County Hall, Morpeth.
Ms Romeo said: “I was very impressed with the strong strategic leadership from the director, lead member and senior managers here in Northumberland and the professionalism and dedication of all the social workers I have met today, who are very positive and passionate about the work they are doing. The professional leadership is mirrored at all levels within the organisations especially from frontline social workers.
“The work the council and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have done to embed the support for newly-qualified social workers through their Assessed and Supported Year of Employment (ASYE) is delivering confident, skilled professionals who really are raising the bar for quality social work.”
Councillor Susan Dungworth, policy board member for adult care and public health, said: “It was a great boost for staff to be visited by the chief social worker for the country and have their work recognised at a national level.
“Ms Romeo took a particular interest in the great partnership work between the council and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust which work together as a strong team.”
Daljit Lally, executive director of wellbeing and community health services, said: “We have a very strong relationship between the NHS and the local authority in Northumberland which is built on solid foundations of trust and an ethos which firmly puts wellbeing at the centre of all our decisions.
“We are delighted that Ms Romeo visited Northumberland and saw how our integrated services work and how social workers are being supported.”