and one in Chester city centre. They also plan to recruit at least two more social workers as partners in the practice.
Another part of the pilot project will be to carry
out an evaluation to determine whether offering self-funders access to information and early intervention reduces their demand for statutory services later on. “We will add on some way of evaluating what
happens to the people who come to us after six weeks or six months to see how effective our information and advice has been,” Liz explains. “Whether it has reduced the number of clients costing statutory services, either through crisis, breakdown or going into residential nursing care.” Self-funders who run out of money are estimated
by the Local Government Information Unit to cost the state almost £1bn a year in England alone. Jane is therefore convinced that early intervention is not only good for the client but also good for the economy. “Because most social workers only deal with
critical or substantial needs now, they only get to see people at that end of the spectrum,” she says.
“Whereas if you can step in at the other end, and give people more time and choice to make these important decisions, they may never get to critical or substantial. So what we are trying to do is hit those service users that need the advice before they come into crisis. That little bit of help that you can give to people that aren’t quite critical yet, can be just enough to ensure that they remain on an even keel.” After many years working for local authorities,
That little bit of help that you can
give to people that aren’t quite critical yet, can be just enough to ensure that they remain on an even keel
Jane and Liz are relishing the freedom of being independent social workers, managing their own hours and meeting up in the pretty Cheshire village near to Jane’s home. But both stress that life as self-employed business partners is no easy option. “Ask me late on Sunday night when I’m still doing the accounts,” says Jane.
Above all, it is clear that these two long-serving
social workers remain completely enthused with the work they are doing. “I actually feel that it’s very exciting,” says Liz.
“Care of the elderly is obviously very topical at the moment and I feel passionately that we can make a huge difference. That’s why I became a social worker 40 years ago. To offer people information, to help them make choices and actually make people more independent.” SWM