New national centre for training social workers launched at BU

Posted on Wednesday, November 21 2012

A national centre for helping social workers gain additional training and qualifications has been launched at Bournemouth University (BU).

The National Centre for Post–Qualifying Social Work is based in BU’s School of Health and Social Care, and will help health and social care professionals develop further skills and qualifications.

Professor Keith Brown, Director of the Centre, said: “We train social workers and increasingly healthcare workers who have already qualified and help them with their continued professional development.

“We want to help people expand their skills and develop so that they can become more proficient and more capable in their role.”

He added that, even before being awarded National Centre status, BU was one of the most prolific post–qualifying social work organisations – working with over half of the local authorities in England and with more than 1,000 social work students each year.

“It is not just the size and the scale, it is also our research, our publications, our books,” he said.

“We inform practice, we develop practice, we’re involved in policy decision–making right down to the ongoing training and development, so it is a total package and we are delighted that we have got this new status.”

The Centre was officially launched at a Safeguarding Adults and Mental Capacity Conference, which took place at AFC Bournemouth on Friday and was attended by more than 300 health professionals – ranging from frontline social workers to safeguarding leads and senior directors of care organisations.

The day–long conference was organised by academics from BU, and speakers included Court of Appeal judge The Right Honorable Lord Justice James Munby – who is also chairman of the Law Commission for England and Wales – and Gary Fitzgerald, Chief Executive of charitable organisation Action on Elder Abuse.

Both praised the creation of the National Centre.

Lord Justice Munby, who spoke about the importance of dignity and human decency in safeguarding at the conference, said: “It is immensely impressive. I think that training in the sort of topics we have been discussing today is absolutely vital.

“There’s not been enough of it in the past and there has not been enough post–qualification training, there’s not been enough continuing professional development.

“The law is moving very quickly, the world is moving very quickly and one needs constantly to update and share ideas. Bournemouth seems to be at the leading edge of running the right kind of course.”

Mr Fitzgerald, whose charity works to prevent the abuse of vulnerable, older adults, added: “I think something like this is fantastic and really important.

“You really do need to be able to look ahead, to plan, to think and to work around what the issues are so I think something like this is critically important to develop for the future as much as what’s happening in practice today.”

Other speakers were tribunal judge David Hewitt and independent trainer Robert Brown, who are both visiting fellows at Bournemouth University.

A free online Safeguarding Adults Framework Evaluation (SAFE) tool developed by Di Galpin, senior lecturer in post–qualifying social work at BU, was also launched at the conference.

Di said: “The SAFE tool has been developed to support professionals working in health and social care to improve their practice when working with individuals at risk of harm, such as the patients at Winterbourne View Hospital.

“The tool is designed to help professionals reflect on their practise and identify what new skills and knowledge they need to ensure their practise is effective and professional.”

The conference was such a success it will now become an annual event, with a focus on a different relevant topic each year.

“We are living in a time when you don’t see a newspaper when there is not something about abuse or care that has gone wrong and so safeguarding for us is a really important issue,” Professor Brown said.

“Having some of these speakers and some of the most pre–eminent people in the country speaking about the mental capacity law can help development and thinking and reflection for a number of practitioners.”

He added: “It has been amazing and now that we are the National Centre we are going to do it every year as part of our mission to inform, progress and develop practice.”

You can find out more about the National Centre for Post–Qualifying Social Work at