The new social care: strength-based approaches

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Date of publication
1 May 2013
Social Work, Social Care and Social Services
Social welfare
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This pamphlet examines strengths-based approaches to social care in light of changing social and policy trends. For far too long, social care has been dominated by a deficit model. Services have often focused exclusively on needs and vulnerabilities, ignoring people’s strengths and their networks of relationships with friends, families and communities. Yet it is this social resource that underpins the majority of social care and support in the country, with unpaid family care alone holding a value equivalent to ten times the state’s care budget. The 2012 Care and Support White Paper was a call to action that championed an asset-based approach to stem the tide of need and harness the strengths of the individual and their community. But more needs to be done to translate the broad ideas and aspirations of the white paper into practice. As the Joint Parliamentary Committee’s report on the Draft Care and Support Bill is published, this pamphlet argues that there is a critical missing element in the Bill – it isn’t explicit enough about the need to understand people’s assets from the outset.

The contributors to this pamphlet, including former Care and Support Minister Paul Burstow, argue that we need to see growing ‘social productivity’ as the core business of social care services and commissioners. This means supporting families and communities by developing their strengths and resources. Often vulnerable people’s well-being can be ignored or undermined by ineffective or ill-considered interventions. This pamphlet contains many examples of the right kind of interventions happening already, even where care budgets are shrinking. A ‘networked’ model of care – when formal services fit themselves around informal networks and develop people’s strengths – is much more effective and less wasteful.

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