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‘Blame Culture’: a Suggested Reason for HCPC Referrals
New research has suggested that ‘inappropriate’ social work referrals to the HCPC could have been reduced by better support from employers.
The research, commissioned by the HCPC, was published this week – it said that many social workers “would, and arguably should, never have been referred to the regulator in the first place”, had there been appropriate local support and intervention.
The report identified a ‘blame culture’ as a possible reason for the high levels of referrals. It also touched upon excessive levels of stress and poor working conditions, which could lead to actions worthy of a referral.
“Inadequate supportive supervision (as opposed to performance management), it is claimed, contributes to an environment where errors, omissions and misconduct are not picked up,” the research said.
It added: “However, the extent to which improvements in supervision, training, support and workplace culture can either be achieved or make a difference in the current climate of economic austerity is open for debate.”
A case analysis revealed that a disproportionate number of complaints against social workers did not meet the threshold for investigation, with 56% of referrals being made by members of the public. The report recommended that the public be better engaged to raise awareness of appropriate places for complaints, as well as encouraging more support from professional bodies and employers.
Focus groups were held, consisting of service users, social workers and academics, with the following preventative strategies being identified:
Employers: ‘provide better support and supervision
Regulator: ‘widen regulatory options’
Professional body: ‘exert stronger influence’
Educators: ‘broaden professional education’
Registrants: ‘foster self-care and reflection on practice’
Joint responsibilities: ‘improve inter-agency working’