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RQIA Publishes Review of Emergency Social Work Provision in Northern Ireland

RQIA has published the findings of its Review of Emergency Social Work in Northern Ireland, which considered whether the provision of emergency interventions of care is safe, effective and compassionate, and the service is well led.  The review team, which included expert representation from Care Inspectorate Scotland, also sought the views of key stakeholders in relation to the provision of this service.

While community social work services operate during office hours - five days a week, access to these services may be required 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Since 2013, emergency social work interventions have been provided by the Regional Emergency Social Work Service (RESWS), managed by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.  Stakeholders reported significant improvements in accessing these services, since the establishment of RESWS.

RQIA’s reviewers found that the emergency social work team was delivering a good service; however, we identified a number of significant challenges that must be addressed, including: access to IT systems to allow social workers to obtain an individual’s information to inform their assessment; a continuation of the programme of training for approved social workers, and vulnerable adults training; and the development of an appropriate protocol for staff safety.

Our review team also considered that there was a need for strengthened information exchange between the emergency team and daytime social work services; with GP out-of-hours services; the Housing Executive; and the police.  We would also encourage further engagement with those who have used the service, to include their voices in the further development of this service.

This report makes seven recommendations to improve the Regional Emergency Social Work Service, which we believe, if implemented, would further improve the delivery of this service for people in crisis.