Social Work Services Strategic Forum minutes: September 2017

Minutes from the September 2017 meeting of the Social Work Services Strategic Forum (SWSSF).

Attendees and apologies


  • Mark McDonald (Chair), Minister for Childcare and Early Years
  • Iona Colvin, Chief Social Work Adviser, SG
  • Anna Fowlie, SSSC
  • Jane Devine, Social Work Scotland
  • Susan Taylor, Social Work Scotland
  • Michelle Miller, SOLACE
  • Trisha Hall, SASW
  • Karyn McCluskey, Community Justice Scotland
  • Rikke Iversholt, IRISS
  • Caroline Johnstone, Cosla
  • Trish McCulloch, HEIs Representative/Dundee University
  • Karen Hedges, Scottish Care

Guest Presenters

  • Ian Coldwell, Pagoda PR
  • Lynne Ziarelli, Pagoda PR
  • Kerry Chalmers, Health Workforce Directorate, SG
  • Jane Hamilton, Health Workforce Directorate, SG


  • Jane Mackenzie, OCSWA, SG
  • Shona MacPherson, OCSWA, SG


  • Helen Happer, Care Inspectorate
  • Annie Gunner Logan, CCPS
  • Jacqui Lunday Johnstone, Chief Medical Professions Officer, SG
  • Christina Naismith, Lead for Integration-Strategic Commissioning, SG
  • Claire Lightowler, CYCJ
  • Michael Chalmers, Director Children & Families
  • Donald Macaskill, Scottish Care
  • Shirley Rogers, Director, Health Workforce SG
  • Fiona McQueen, Chief Nursing Officer, SG

Items and actions

1. Welcome, introductions and apologies

The Minister welcomed everyone to the meeting and noted apologies.

2. Note of previous meeting - 7 June 2017

The note was agreed without any amendments. All actions had either been completed, were on the Agenda or would be brought to a future Forum meeting.

Specific Action Strands

3. Promoting Public Understanding

Scottish Social Services Awards and Expo – Paper 1

Ian Coldwell and Lynne Ziarelli presented the findings from the evaluation of the Scottish Social Services Awards held in June. Feedback on the application process and the event itself had been extremely positive and there had been good local media coverage of winners and social media on the day. The connection with the colleges for the shortlisted films was highlighted and opportunities to develop links with colleges outwith the central belt were noted should the Awards continue in 2018.

Points made in discussion

  • Possible links with the Bafta Young Filmmakers awards were suggested as a way for the filmmakers to promote their films and also as a way of highlighting the work of the sector to a wider audience.
  • The need for the leadership across the sector to promote the awards across the workforce was noted and to encourage people to apply for the awards. There is an opportunity for leaders to use the awards to encourage people to believe in themselves and to use this as an opportunity to highlight the good practice there is across the sector.
  • The awards were noted as being fresh and innovative and should be used more going forward as an opportunity to reach a national audience more. Need to go beyond local coverage, perhaps by approaching journalists direct.
  • The link was made with the work on public understanding – using the good news stories to share with a wider audience. Perhaps also an opportunity to look for a national platform in advance by sharing some of the shortlisted nominations with journalists.
  • Discussion on the 2018 Policy Focus Award suggested it was worth tying in with it being the Year of Young People. The Minister suggested a focus on excellence in children’s services with it perhaps being judged by young people who use these services.
  • It was also suggested that the Bright Spark award could focus more specifically on young people who are working in care and support settings as a way of highlighting the sector as a career opportunity.

Shona then summarised feedback from the Social Services Expo held on the same day as the Awards. She noted that feedback on the range and quality of the workshops had been very positive but that numbers attending had been lower than expected which feedback suggested was because of the lack of public transport options to Crieff.

Points made in discussion

  • It was noted that some free events do highlight that non-attendance can result in a cost being charged to ensure that people do turn up on the day.
  • It was suggested that publicity for the Expo could highlight that the event would be recognised as post-registration training and learning (PRTL) for registration with the SSSC, and possibly by other regulators.
  • The role of leaders in ensuring that people are encouraged and supported to make the time to attend events like Expo was highlighted.
  • There was some discussion about holding the Expo as a separate event later in the year from the Awards. The consensus of Forum attendees was that there was merit in trying again to keep the two together on the same day but potentially with a changed venue to Glasgow.


  • There was general agreement by Forum members that both the Awards and the free to attend Expo should be held again in 2018 with the SG being the main funder. OCSWA to lead on considering further options for location of these events and take forward.
  • The Forum agreed to the launch of the Awards being brought forward a month to allow longer for filming, with the college partnership being expanded wider across Scotland.
  • The Forum also agreed that the Awards should not be linked to the SWS Conference and would instead be held the first week in June with potential for a venue in Glasgow to be considered.
  • OCSWA to draft up criteria for a 2018 Policy Focus Award focusing on excellence in children’s services with it perhaps being judged by young people who use these services.
  • OCSWA to amend Bright Spark criteria to focus more specifically on young people who are working in care and support settings.

Update on actions following the research project on Public Understanding – Paper 2

Jane Devine updated the Forum on the next steps for this workstrand following the results of the public understanding research. The report which was discussed at the June Forum will be published later this month and IRISS is working on a user friendly summary version. The current actions in the Strategy under this workstrand may need to be revised in light of the research findings and it was proposed that the Forum have a dedicated discussion on the next steps at the December Forum.


  • A dedicated discussion to be held at the December Forum to inform the next steps for the actions in the public understanding workstrand.

4. Supporting the Workforce

National Workforce Plan for Health and Social Care

In the absence of lead SG colleagues, Jane Mackenzie gave an update on progress with the development of the National Workforce Plan for Health and Social Care, in particular the work on the Social Care chapter which is being developed jointly with Cosla and a wider stakeholder group. The Reference Group had met in August and a framework for the Plan had been developed and would be shared more widely later in the month. The overarching Group supporting development of the Plan – the National Workforce Planning Group - would meet for the first time on 14th September and a number of Forum members were on that Group – including workstrand lead, Anna Fowlie.

Consideration of structured framework for NQSW first year in practice

As part of the review of Social Work education the SSSC and stakeholders have been working with SG to consider options around the possible introduction of a structured year for NQSWs. A stakeholder survey had been undertaken to gauge support for this. The results, from 1,500 responses are currently being analysed but most have been supportive albeit with some provisos which now need explored. The consultation will feed into the Reference Group who are looking at how to take this forward with a view to making proposals to Ministers later this year.

Wider Strategic Context

5. Everyone Matters : 2020 Workforce Vision – Paper 3

Kerry Chalmers and Jane Hamilton from the SG Directorate for Health Workforce and Strategic Change explained their work on Everyone Matters and the potential for development of a workforce vision or set of guiding principles for staff working within integrated health and social care teams. They indicated that they were keen to have Forum views on this at the meeting and also to have further dialogue with individual members and their organisations if that would be helpful.

Points raised in discussion

  • The work of the Adult Social Care Reform Programme was noted and the suggestion made that links should be made with this team.
  • Connections should also be made with children’s services and justice teams in terms of ways of working in the future. Multi-disciplinary working is increasing so ways of working and shared culture are becoming increasingly important.
  • The question was raised about whether a national vision was needed – is there benefit in looking at different visions for each individual health and social care partnership?
  • It was suggested that a national picture is needed to go forward with but that this shouldn’t impede local flexibility.
  • Links should be made with the national workforce plan.
  • Any vision should be about making experiences of health and social care better. It is also about raising the status of the social care workforce.
  • It was noted that integrated practice shouldn’t only be seen in the context of health and social care integration. It applies equally in justice settings for example.
  • The question was raised about whether people are “visioned out”? There are other broader visions that staff work too – for example Girfec which is key for children’s services. The point was also made that perhaps we don’t need several visions but that each relevant policy development should reflect its contribution to the overall visions for H&SC Integration, Girfec or Community Justice
  • What does a vision actually mean in terms of practice, approaches, ethos etc? Therefore looking at guiding principles might be a better approach which support how we work better together.
  • A question was also raised about what workforce are we talking about? Need to be clear if just health and social care or is it broader e.g. does it include children and justice workforces? It was noted that the focus was currently on health and social care integration, but that there were implications for the rest of the workforce.
  • It was noted that any vision needs to address behaviours – whilst we have shared values, different parts of the workforce and different organisations can behave very differently.
  • It was suggested that there may have been similar points of debate in the development of the National Care Standards so it might be worth speaking to the team that were involved in this.
  • It was also suggested that there is merit in having a debate around the notion of “care” and what “care” means both now and in the future.


  • Forum members invited to submit any further thoughts or comments by email to OCSWA for passing on to the Everyone Matters team by 29 September 2017.

Implementation Plan

6. Revised Implementation Plan : April 2017 onwards – Paper 4

Jane Mackenzie briefly talked through the now finalised, refreshed Implementation Plan for April 2017 onwards, noting in particular that:

  • there had been a number of projects progressing under the Improving Evidence workstrand and that Claire Lightowler would be providing a fuller update on this at the December Forum.
  • a number of actions under the Performance workstrand have now moved into a phase of ensuring that effort is made to maintain and update the new information products that are available on various performance elements, rather than undertaking new activity.
  • as discussed earlier in the meeting the Public Understanding actions would be a subject for focus at the December meeting
  • there were a few actions where to date there had been limited activity. She invited Forum members to let OCSWA know if they thought some of these should be picked up more urgently so that OCSWA could either initiate action or discuss with partners how they could best take them forward.


  • Update on Evidence Workstrand to take place at December Forum meeting.
  • Forum members to highlight any Actions for prioritising at this point to OCSWA as soon as possible.

7. Next Meeting

  • Tuesday 12 December 2017 , 10.00-12.00. NOTE VENUE : GRASSMARKET PROJECT, CANDLEMAKER ROW, EDINBURGH
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