‘The View from Here’ – launch of the project findings

An event to launch the findings of The View from Here, a project designed to understand the working lives, attitudes and experiences of the social services workforce in Scotland, is being held today, 28 October, at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow.

iriss viewThe project comprised both quantitative and qualitative research – a workforce survey, which was conducted in partnership with The Guardian; and creative, qualitative research with 74 practitioners to gain a greater understanding of their day-to-day experiences of supporting people. The qualitative research was a partnership of Scottish Care, Coalition of Care Providers (CCPS) and the University of Strathclyde. Together, this evidence gives us a more robust picture, which adds to the existing evidence base provided by other organisations, such as Social Work Scotland, Coalition of Care Providers (CCPS), Scottish Care and the SSSC.

The workforce survey was completed by public (69%), voluntary (25%) and private sector (6%) staff. Of the 2,167 respondents, 26% were male and 74% were female. Overall, 78% of respondents are happy in their job, with 75% being driven by a desire to make a difference. 62% report doing additional work most weeks. Creativity and innovation is happening across the sectors, but is more often reported in the voluntary (49%) and private sectors (42%) rather than public sector (29%). Across the sample, people reported that they are ‘often’ able to be evidence informed (83%) and are able to actively seek good practice (74%) in their organisations. Funding cuts are the biggest challenge faced by the sector as a whole (48%).

Peter MacLeod, Iriss Chair commented:

“The results of the survey published today provide an invaluable insight into the experiences of the social services workforce. Social services involves critical and life changing work which many in Scotland’s communities rely on. Understanding what motivates and challenges the people who care and support is necessary if we are to improve and develop services, as well as be innovative in what we do. I celebrate the tireless work done by colleagues in social services, and this excellent research provides a window into the world of care and support in Scotland in 2015.”

Alan Baird, Chief Social Work Adviser at Scottish Government also commented:

“It is crucial that we hear from the workforce to understand what motivates them and also what challenges them in their day-to-day job. This survey gives us a really strong start at understanding what people working in social services think about their jobs, the services they are delivering, the context in which they are working and the challenges they are experiencing.”

The qualitative research highlights that:

  • Interpersonal relationships are seen as central to feeling valued in work.
  • Across all sectors experiences of supervision are mixed, but with the majority reporting largely positive responses.
  • Participants indicate how they had benefitted from good training and development from their employers over their careers. The statutory requirements for training under Scottish Vocational Qualifications were a strong impetus for training.
  • The vast majority of employees work more hours than what they are contracted for.
  • The majority of respondents are dissatisfied with their pay and conditions package.
  • Austerity and scarce resources in public services represent a major challenge to workers and their ability to effectively achieve their outcomes for users.
  • Across all sectors, the majority of people express a desire to stay in care work over the next five years.

Julia Doucet, a practitioner involved in the qualitative research said:

“I found the entire experience rather cathartic, not just in relation to my work but on a personal level also. I felt positive and heartened by the people I encountered during the project; and that has stayed with me . . that says a lot; in this somewhat jaded world.”

Shona Smith, another practitioner who was involved commented:

“I learned to value the power of reflection in helping me to evaluate my work, de-stress and help me to do a better job for the people I work with. But I did find that in practice it is very difficult to find the time to reflect on top of the growing pressures of increasing workloads. Reflection needs to be valued by employers…”

The workforce survey findings and qualitative analysis are available at: http://blogs.iriss.org.uk/viewfromhere/

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