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Campaign launches to celebrate social care ‘making a difference’

The campaign celebrating care in Northern Ireland launches a week after the government announced it had ceased the use of agency social workers in all Health and Social Care Trusts.

10/07/23

Campaign launches to celebrate social care ‘making a difference’

The ‘Social Care – Making a Difference’ campaign, which is delivered by the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (the Social Care Council), was officially launched by Department of Health Permanent Secretary Peter May and Chief Social Worker Aine Morrison at a special event at L’Arche Belfast.

They met Rachael Mackarel, who works at L’Arche and Thomas, whom she supports. He has physical and learning disabilities. Rachael and Thomas both feature in the campaign, alongside others who share their very personal stories of working in social care and the people they support.

Rachael is one of more than 38,000 social care workers in Northern Ireland. She’s also one of the faces of a new campaign stressing the value of social care and encouraging people to choose it as a career.

Rachael says: “I find living my life alongside people who are marginalised to be greatly rewarding. When I left school and university, I wanted to make a difference in the world. I love my job, and I really value feeling that I’ve made that difference.”

Social care workers register with the Social Care Council to provide communities with support every day. Today over 38,000 are registered to deliver social care – as well as 188 social workers – making it the largest health and social care workforce in Northern Ireland.

The campaign is one of the many steps aimed at supporting Northern Ireland’s social care workforce as part of the Department of Health’s reform of adult social care. As at the end of May 2023, the top four roles for registered social care workers were adult social care workers (40.8%), domiciliary care workers (37.6%), supported living workers (7.8%) and day care workers (6.3%).

Speaking at the launch event Peter May, Permanent Secretary, Department of Health said the government is committed to providing opportunities for the true voice of the social care profession to shine: “Importantly, this includes the social care workforce. We know that social care professionals are dedicated and selfless and the launch of this campaign is the perfect time to acknowledge their efforts and remind us all of the important role they play in our communities.”

The launch comes after the Department of Health announced it had successfully ended the use of agency social workers, which it said will help to create a “more stable and sustainable” social work workforce and complements other measures taken by Health and Social Care (HSC) Trusts to improve the recruitment and retention of social workers.

The move to end agency social worker use was first announced by then-Health Minister Robin Swann, before he left office in October 2022. The government now says that the majority of social workers who had been working in an agency capacity have chosen to apply for HSC posts and most have been successfully appointed to a position in a Trust.

Chief Social Worker Aine Morrison said ceasing the use of agency social workers in HSC Trusts is a welcome landmark.

“High quality social work services require stable and consistent social work teams, in which social workers feel valued. I think it is important that all social workers in HSC enjoy the same benefits and entitlements, and I hope that this initiative will have a lasting effect in stabilising the social work workforce.”

Pictured (L-R) are Thomas, Patricia Higgins, CEO, Social Care Council, Rachael Mackarel, Senior Support Worker L’Arche and Peter May, Permanent Secretary, Department of Health at this week’s ‘Social care – Making a difference’ campaign launch at L’Arche Belfast.

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