Group vows to highlight failures in social care system

A lobby group for frontline social care workers has vowed to highlight systemic failures in the State’s social care machinery and how austerity is affecting the most vulnerable in society.

Dozens of social care professionals will attend the first meeting of the newest branch of the Social Work Action Network (SWAN) in Cork tonight to set out their strategy.

The group will represent social workers, social care workers, family support workers and other social professionals who are joining forces to highlight issues of concern within each profession.

It will also liaise with other lobby groups already advocating for the various client groups.

SWAN has vowed to speak out on behalf of individual social care workers — who are constrained by confidentiality issues — to highlight how systems failures, management issues and budget cuts are affecting the people they work with, including at-risk children, the mentally ill, the disabled, the homeless, families in crisis, and other vulnerable groupings.

“This group will provide a forum, a safe place for social care workers, who have huge responsibility, to share information and to press for change,” SWAN Cork’s co-founder Dr Tom O’Connor said.

“It is particularly necessary now due to austerity and the failure of services for many of these groups.

“The idea is that the workers, managers and all grades working with these groups come together and highlight issues that need to be tackled, huge gaps in services, systems failings etc, rather than waiting for the next crisis, and then the professions themselves get blamed as scapegoats for state failure.”

Dr O’Connor lectures at CIT on economics, public finances, taxation and austerity, and on the economic implications of government policy on social services, social work and social care.

He said as part of the social side of his work, he has become a founding member of SWAN Cork.

Founded in the UK about six years ago, it has branches in Galway and Dublin.

The first meeting of SWAN’s Cork branch will be held in the SMA Community Centre in Wilton at 7.15pm tonight.

SWAN is planning a large national conference in Dublin in September.

Register warnings

*Social care workers have been advised to register with their regulator or face serious consequences.

CORU, the body charged with regulating health and social care professionals, warned last night that its members have just three weeks to apply for registration, or be in breach of the law and face possible fines and even a prison sentence.

Registration, which is aimed at protecting the public, is the law and social workers who do not register by May 31 will face serious consequences, CORU said.

The body represents social workers, clinical biochemists, dietitians, medical scientists, occupational therapists, orthoptists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, psychologists, radiographers, social care workers, and speech and language therapists.

The deadline is critical for social workers who hold a Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (CQSW) or a National Qualification in Social Work (NQSW) — historical qualifications of the profession.

CORU said social workers who hold these qualifications will not be accepted for registration after the deadline.

CORU chief executive, Ginny Hanrahan, urged its members to submit their applications now on www.coru.ie.

After the deadline, people who use the title social worker illegally may be prosecuted and if convicted can be fined up to €5,000, imprisoned for up to six months or both.

The public will be able to check the register at coru.ie to see if an individual social worker has registered.

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