BASW England and BASW Cymru have launched a campaign to change national guidelines for social workers.
The organisations are calling for social workers to have regular, safe access to health and care settings so they can carry out their statutory duties and protect the human rights of citizens in care.
BASW said the Test, Safe Access, Promote Rights campaign is in response to blanket restrictions on visiting and access applied across care and health settings, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
These restrictions regularly see social workers being denied access to people and settings, as evidenced by a BASW survey and feedback from members.
This has adversely impacted social workers’ ability to carry out important duties such as Mental Capacity Act (MCA) assessments and Deprivation of Liberty (DoLS) assessments, and their duty to safeguard citizens’ human rights.
The campaign calls for:
Test – Designated social worker professional visitors must be tested for covid-19 on a weekly basis and have negative test results prior to visiting someone in a health/care setting or supported living.
Safe Access – Social workers must be given priority access to people living in health, care and supported living settings through testing, rigorous infection control, access to PPE.
Promote Rights – Social workers’ core values are built upon social justice and promoting human rights. We need safe access into health and care settings living to ensure citizens are living the healthiest and fulfilling lives possible.
Commenting on the launch, Maris Stratulis, BASW England national director, said: ‘We must learn from the experiences of the first national lockdown and the devastating impact on people in care homes and supported living environments from not having enough contact with people in their lives.”
‘Changing national guidelines and implementing regular testing of social workers now will allow them to safely carry out their duties and promote the rights, strengths and wellbeing of people, families and communities.
‘We cannot return to closed cultures or blanket banning of visitors to care and health settings – testing, proportionate risk assessments, safe access and promoting rights will minimise further curtailment of freedoms and human rights.’
Stratulis urged key stakeholders in the health and care sectors, and wider social care community, to ‘join the campaign’, especially as we approach the winter months when more people are expected to need health and care services.
BASW Cymru national director, Allison Hulmes, said: ‘In Wales, we have been asking, Vaughan Gething, the minister for Health and Social Services directly since early in the pandemic for social workers to be regularly tested and have the correct PPE in order to enter care settings.
‘Unless this happens, social workers are unable to promote and support the human rights of some of the most vulnerable citizens in Wales.’
For more information on the campaign please visit the Test, Safe Access, Promote Rights hub
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