Black History Month in Social Work and Social Care

Jo Moriarty (Senior Research Fellow) and Prof Jill Manthorpe (Director) of the NIHR Health & Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London. (1246 words)

In the aftermath of the pulling down of the statue of the merchant and slave trader, Edward Colston, in the June of this year, discussions took place about how best to replace it. We were intrigued to read one suggestion that it should be replaced by a statue of Paul Stephenson. Who was he and what was the boycott we wondered?

Paul Stephenson leading the Bristol bus boycott in 1963 (Photo: ITV)

We soon found out that he was the first black social worker in Bristol (BBC Newsround 2018). The Bristol Bus Company refused to employ black people on bus crews and, inspired by the refusal of Rosa Parks to give up her seat on a bus and the ensuing Montgomery Bus Boycott, Stephenson was one of a group of people who led a bus boycott in Bristol in 1963.

The cause was taken up by the wider black community and white sympathisers in Bristol. Within a few months, the company succumbed to pressure and ended its ban. The following year Stephenson refused to leave a pub until he was served. He is now widely recognised as having played an important part in the passage of the 1965 Race Relations Act and was awarded an OBE in 2009. Continue reading

Promoting the importance of human relationships: hospital social work

Jo Moriarty, Senior Research Fellow at the NIHR Health & Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London introduces the new hospital social work report, which she wrote with Dr Nicole Steils and Prof Jill Manthorpe. World Social Work Day is on 19 March 2019 #WSWD2019 is the official hashtag. (602 words)

Mapping Hospital Social WorkThe theme for next week’s World Social Work Day is ‘promoting the importance of human relationships.’  In preparation for this we are launching our report into hospital social work, which was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Policy Research Programme at the request of the Chief Social Worker for Adults, Lyn Romeo.  Lyn has also kindly written the report’s foreword.

The origins of hospital social work lie in the decision made by the Royal Free Hospital in 1895 to appoint Mary Stewart as the first ‘lady almoner’. Her role was to interview people to decide who would be eligible for the free medical treatment that the hospital provided.  Other hospitals soon followed this example and by 1948, the Institute of Almoners had over 1000 active members.[1]  Written in the style of the time, Flora Beck’s textbook for almoners noted that their two key tasks were:

… to determine whether social problems are likely to have a bearing on the patient’s illness. The second is to make the patient feel that here is a person with whom he could, if necessary, discuss his personal difficulties; someone to whom he need not mind admitting any trivial misunderstanding which had been bothering him, and to whom he could reveal serious and confidential problems without embarrassment.[2, cited in 3] Continue reading

Integrated care from an international perspective

Jo Moriarty is Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit. (578 words)

The 18th International Conference on Integrated Care was hosted by the International Foundation of Integrated Care (IFIC) in partnership with the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM and Vilans (the National Centre of Expertise for Long-term Care in the Netherlands) in Utrecht from 23-25 May 2018.  Michelle Cornes and I were both fortunate to be among the 800 or so delegates attending the conference.

The increase in the number of people with complex long-term conditions whose support needs span traditional boundaries across health, social care and housing has led to many developments aimed at improving collaboration across different organisations and enhancing quality of care for individuals.  However, there is no single definition of what is meant by ‘integrated care’. Continue reading

Social care recruitment and retention – the sector speaks

Facing the facts, shaping the future, the Department of Health & Social Care and Skills for Care adult social care workforce consultation, focuses on a number of workforce challenges specific to the adult social care sector: attracting and recruiting into the workforce; improving retention; how to improve professional development; the role of regulation, and ensuring effective workforce planning. The consultation runs from 20 February to 9 April 2018. 

In light of the launch of this consultation we are re-posting this recent piece by Jo Moriarty, Jill Manthorpe and Jess Harris in which the authors introduce their report on the topic (first published 1 February 2018). (663 words)

Recruitment and retention reportHigh turnover rates among people working in social care are troubling. Both getting and keeping staff are difficult. Experts often talk about what needs to be done to make sure that the right people with the right values are there to support people needing care. New insights into possible solutions to care recruitment and retention problems are reported today in a report from King’s College London. The researchers turned to the workforce themselves to ask what needs to be done. One hundred and forty people working in different jobs or with different experiences of social care discussed what needs to change in areas such as pay, competition between employers, and work pressures. Subjects covered included better organisation of locum working, ensuring zero hours contracts are fair, and that people who are part of the ‘gig economy’, where people are called on to work only when necessary, enjoy this flexibility rather than find it anxiety-making. Continue reading

Why we need to pay more attention to student funding in social work education

Jo Moriarty is Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit. The report on the social work bursary, published today, is available free to download. (604 words)

There has been a large rise in the volume of social work research undertaken in the UK over the past 20 years but one topic remains stubbornly under researched: student funding in social work education. This is all the more surprising when we remember the attention given to tuition fees in the last three general elections.

In June 2017, the Department of Health and Social Care Policy Research Programme commissioned the Social Care Workforce Research Unit to undertake a short review of the social work bursary.

We had already done a similar piece of work so we had not expected to uncover a large research evidence base. However, it still seems surprising that there is so little research on social work students finances given that many social work students are drawn to social work after being in care or experiencing discrimination or poverty. Continue reading

At the 12th UK Dementia Congress

Jo Moriarty Nov 2014bJo Moriarty is Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit. (736 words)

The 12th UK Dementia Congress ran from the 7-9 November at Doncaster Racecourse. I was one of over 700 delegates who included people living with dementia, family carers, health and social care professionals, and researchers. Organised by the Journal of Dementia Care, in partnership with the University of Bradford and with support from the Alzheimer’s Society, there were over 150 different presentations and workshops. I spoke about the Unit’s completed study about handovers in care homes funded by the Abbeyfield Foundation and explained that we have just started a new phase which will focus on the views of residents and relatives. Continue reading

Adult Social Care – where’s the evidence?

Jo Moriarty Nov 2014bJo Moriarty and Martin Stevens are Senior Research Fellows at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit. (1,192 words)

People often talk about the absence of a social care evidence base, but ‘patchy’ is a far better description. Until we arMartin Stevense more explicit about this, it will be difficult to make progress in achieving evidence based policy and practice. We took part in two Meet the Researcher sessions at an event jointly organised by Research in Practice for Adults (RIPfA), the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS). They were part of a day-long seminar designed to bring Directors and Assistant Directors of Adult Social Care and researchers together to discuss current and future adult social care research. Continue reading

Social work research with adults in England: The state we’re in

Manthorpe and Moriarty 2016 Social work research-01The adult social work sector in England needs to urgently identify its key research priorities, in an inclusive and rigorous way, if it is to generate the ideas and evidence needed to ensure that people receive the best possible support, according to researchers at the Policy Institute, King’s College London.

In a discussion paper on the state of social work research with adults in England, the researchers stress that the profession needs to be underpinned by research if it is to survive and to flourish. Among their recommendations are the establishment of a network that provides learning and mentor support for early career researchers, practitioner researchers, and managers interested in adult social work research, something that currently exists for researchers working on subjects such as ageing or in health services research. Continue reading

What social care support is provided to family carers? What support do family carers want?

Jo Moriarty Nov 2014bJo Moriarty is Research Fellow and Deputy Director of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit in the Policy Institute at King’s. This month sees the publication of the Research Findings of a project she led on Social care practice with carers. (736 words)


I’ve lost the man that I fell in love with and I now just feel like a full time nurse. (Nicola-Jane, Carer08)

Research about family carers often focuses on the problems they face. However, at a time when increases in social care funding are not enough to meet the additional demand for services and when it is expected that the gap between the number of people needing support and the number of people able to support them is widening, we need to focus not just on problems but on finding better ways to support the six and half million people providing unpaid help to members of their family and friends in the United Kingdom. Continue reading

Expectations and reality: social care support in old age

Jo Moriarty

by Jo Moriarty

Two weeks ago I went to Greenwich Pensioners Forum. Last week I was at the Hackney Older People’s Reference Group. In the last month, Unit Director Jill Manthorpe and I must have spoken to almost 500 older Londoners at various meetings. Without exception, the discussions have been lively and well-informed but running through them has been uncertainty about the future of social care support for older people.

These experiences made me question a widely held assumption about how baby boomers, those born between 1948 and 1964, will experience old age. I have lost count of the times that I have heard commentators, policymakers, and researchers tell me that services for older people will improve because baby boomers have higher expectations and will demand good quality support. So that’s why reports such as ‘Close to Home’, undertaken by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, express concerns about the quality of care services and Age UK organises a ‘care in crisis’ petition. It’s simply a question of older people upping their expectations!

Some years ago I was sitting next to a member of our Service User and Carer Advisory Group listening to yet another lecture looking forward to this new dawn. She has been a campaigner and activist throughout almost all her life. I asked her what she thought of the views being expressed. ‘Oh, I don’t think the baby boomers will find it so easy’, she replied.  ‘They don’t know how to act collectively’. Perhaps she is right. After all, individualism has been identified as a core value of the baby boomers.

Recently, in a discussion on the radio programme You and Yours about the proposal to allow 16 and 17 year olds in Scotland to vote in the referendum on independence, Ben Page of Ipsos MORI said that if their turnout was anything like that of 18-24 year olds, their votes would be unlikely to influence the result. Perhaps it’s significant, he added, that older people are more likely to vote and benefits for older people such as the winter fuel allowance have remained untouched. This discrepancy between older and younger voters is especially high in the United Kingdom where in the last general election, 84 per cent of people aged 55 and over voted compared with 61 per cent overall.

It’s true that many older people don’t feel that they have enough information about what support is available and how to access it and the increasing reliance on websites alone as an information source means there is a risk that the digital divide will widen. At the moment, less than a third of those aged 75 and over have ever used the internet, an important statistic in the light of proposals for online information and advice in the Care and Support White paper.

However, we also should not forget that public knowledge of how social care is funded remains very low. The literature review carried out as part of the Dilnot Commission on the Funding of Care and Support  quotes one survey reporting that a third of people still think that local councils provide free home care! As changes take place as a result of the Care and Support White Paper and as local councils tighten their eligibility criteria, I wonder how many baby boomers envisage what their future care needs might be and how they will be able to fund them.

Jo Moriarty is a Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London and tweets as @Aspirantdiva. Jo is speaking about her research project, Social care practice with carers: an investigation of practice models at the School for Social Care Research on 7 November.