S.W.A.N Ireland attended an IMPACT union conference today which focused on the issue of regulation which is being introduced in Ireland over the next year. Social workers are the first profession out of twelve to be regulated. The body which will regulate social workers is called "CORU". There are many issues that social workers have with CORU, none of which CORU is actively engaging with social workers in addressing. Because of this, SWAN Ireland believes it is very important to ensure our union pro-actively acts on our behalf in relation to these issues. Read the text of our leaflet below which addresses only a few (!) of our concerns.
S.W.A.N. Ireland is a group of frontline Social Workers opposed to the current form and ethos of registration proposed by CORU on the following grounds:
1. CORU is charging Social Workers about 8 times more than Social Workers in the UK (£30) and over 3 times more than Nurses in Ireland (€88).
2. As it stands CORU’s framework is heavily legalistic and focused on reprimanding individuals as a way of “protecting the public”. This individualisation of social work is something we fear could deflect attention away from systemic failures such as cuts to vital community services or overly bureaucratic work practices which lead to poor outcomes for service users.
3. CORU’s registration process involves an intrusive set of questioning such as details of a person’s history of mental illness or whether worker’s probation has ever been extended. SWAN advocates that Workers do not cooperate with questions that compromise individual’s right to privileged and confidential information. It is not at all clear where this information will be stored and who will have access to it. SWAN believes that CORU must negotiate with IMPACT, a set of questions that are relevant and necessary for a reasonable registration process. CORU refuses to provide any guidance to Social Workers who seek advice as to the correct course of action to take, in any given ethical situation. CORU’s - Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics for Social Workers places sole responsibility on the individual social worker for their own actions.
4. Working in under-resourced services will result in the scapegoating of social workers. If CORU uphold a complaint against a worker, the service user may well, encouraged by the findings, use these findings to bring a legal case against the employer and the worker. A court may find that the individual Worker is responsible for all or part of any compensation and costs.
5. CORU has written Social Work’s code of ethics which can be used against us in “fitness to practise rulings”, in one part the code advocates prioritising the management of resources available to public services as opposed to people’s needs! In addition, unlike other professional registration bodies who offer services and supports to workers, CORU will not offer any professional guidance to the worker attempting to balance complex family and individual matters.
6. CORU has targeted vulnerable unemployed student social workers by insisting they register prior to qualifying. SWAN understands that unemployed social workers are not even getting accepted to the interview stage for a job unless they are registered. SWAN asks that IMPACT insist that CORU reduce their registration fee substantially for newly-qualified and unemployed social workers.
7. It took CORU over three months to reply to concerns raised by an IMPACT working group on CORU comprised of Social Workers. Thus we call on IMPACT to insist that we achieve a deferral of the registration until all matters are resolved in a meaningful way with UNION AGREEMENT.
8. IMPACT must be represented on the board of CORU but to date CORU has proceeded WITHOUT Union agreement.
IMPACT MUST SEEK LEGAL ADVICE ON:
1. The Health & Social Care Professionals Act 2005
2. The Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics for Social Workers Bye-Law 2011.
IMPACT must take a stand in the current climate to stop the government using bodies like CORU, shifting the blame onto workers for failures of the state to provide proper service. 500 Social Workers have signed a petition so far indicating their opposition to the extortionate fee set by CORU.
A Motion was passed at IMPACT Union Conference in 2011:
This conference calls on Impact to oppose attempts by the new health and social care registration body, CORU, to make social workers personally liable for systemic problems that are created by state and organisational policy. We also call on Impact to oppose CORU charging exorbitant fees for registration that are much higher than those charged to other professionals in other fields and to campaign for this fee, which is no more than a stealth tax to be paid by the employer of the Social Worker.