Centre for Workforce Development
Aligning social work and social care with wider professional aims and initiatives
Since 2017, the Centre for Workforce Development has acted as a hub for applied research, consultancy, knowledge transfer and continuing professional development (CPD), aimed at aligning social work and social care with wider professional aims and initiatives.
Workforce development can encompass numerous strategies at the systemic, organisational and individual level. Our emphasis on workforce needs has led us to deliver on a wide range of research projects and commissions across all of these areas, particularly in work that is rooted in evidence-based professional practice, service user data, social workers and early-years staff. Our membership includes seven visiting fellows and three visiting professors representing local government, the NHS, Skills for Care and the wider residential care sector.
The Centre has well-established links with the Universities of Strathclyde, Portsmouth, Winchester and Solent, and a number of local authority departments in West Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire. There are close working partnerships with voluntary, independent and private sector organisations including those part of the Regional Care Alliance (Sussex), West Sussex Adults and Children Services Teaching Partnership, Sussex Integrated Care Board and Sussex Hospitals Trust.
- Viv Colleran (the well-being of residential care leaders and managers).
- Stuart Barton (missing and trafficked children).
- Alex Best (victims and perpetrators of harmful sexual behaviour).
- Hilda Chehore (racism faced by social workers and students from black backgrounds)
Working to improve strategic workforce outcomes
Our members, including our considerable cohort of visiting fellows and professors, can offer expert consultation services and deliver on many different kinds of initiatives related to workforce needs and development.
The Centre also supports a number of brilliant PhD students, each undertaking projects designed to meet strategic workforce aims and enhance network/partnership links. One such project, focussed on the health and wellbeing of social care managers and leaders, has led to collaborations with a range of residential and domiciliary care providers across Sussex.
Another project, funded by the Integrated Care Board (supported by the Sussex NHS Hospitals Trust) focusses on how strategic organisational aims can be met by interprofessional teams working to improve knowledge of research and evidence-based practice within post-qualifying study, and then onwards throughout career progression.
Recent individual and co-authored publications include books and journal articles on topics such as:
- Race and racism
- Culturally sensitive practice
- Mental health
- Child abuse
- Child sexual exploitation
- End of life care
- Resilience in the workplace
- Inter-professional team working
- Post-humanism in practice
- Organisational and workforce change management
- Reflective practice
- Supervision and mentorship
- Ethnic minority rights for children
- Emotional labour and embodiment
Networking with over seventy academic leaders in social work based in universities in the 4 countries of the UK (through the Social Work Education Anti-Racism Network - SWEARN) has resulted in joint publications and conference papers on anti-racist practice.
How we're helping create change
Our members are regularly consulted on the development of social policy, and sit on a range of national committees. We are consulted on public policy at strategic meetings with, for example, medical staff from the Western Sussex NHS Trust and senior managers and Principal Social Workers from Southampton, Portsmouth, Surrey, Hampshire, West Sussex and Isle of Wight councils. Our expertise was sought in relation to the data challenges generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and employer evidence of the racism faced by staff and students.
Leading Adult Social Care Well
While the quality of adult social care provision is among the most pressing and intractable issues in the UK today, there is, at present, very little research into the efficacy of adult social care leadership development programmes (LDPs) or the pedagogical strategies that underpin them.
Unlike the NHS, the adult social care sector is fundamentally fragmented, with models of care delivery varying based on local market forces which also drive funding and costs.
As a consequence of these contextual challenges, care home manager roles are often isolated, stressful and subject to low retention rates. A generic leadership framework is available on a national level, but this does not take into account the discrepancies between managerial roles that arise from specific local challenges.
Responding to this, research carried out by the Centre for Professional Development (led by Professor Janet McCray) into Leadership Development Programmes (LDPs) in adult social care led to improvements both to learning provisions for registered managers in South East England, and to the overall quality of their leadership.
This was achieved primarily through a report commissioned by the ‘Well-Led Project’ (WLP), a major regional NHS initiative focussed on improving management in the sector, in which McCray recommended how LDPs – which had previously offered only generic training without considering specific workplace demands – should focus on managers’ individual learning needs. Her interventions led to a significant overhaul of LDP content and design in South East England.
Events and News
An events listing for the 2023/24 academic year will be posted soon.