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17 social worker jobs advertised at Shire Hall as staff shortages bite Gloucestershire County Council

By jrmaidment  |  Posted: July 24, 2014

Gloucestershire County Council accepts it has a problem in recruiting social workers but has stressed it's the same story across the country

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Shire Hall bosses are scrambling to fill 17 social worker vacancies in Gloucestershire.

The staffing shortage is being blamed on a national increase in demand for social work services.

At the moment Gloucestershire County Council employs 168 social workers who are dealing with 2,776 cases between them.

It is using agency workers to plug the holes while it tries to recruit permanent members of staff.

The county council has acknowledged that it has a problem in this area but has stressed that so does virtually every other authority across the country.

And while things may be bad in Gloucestershire they are still significantly better than elsewhere.

Despite the staff shortages the county council maintains that morale within its social work teams is “good”.

Shire Hall was asked if the problems have resulted in social workers in the county being given too much to do.

The county council said there are no nationally agreed caseload limits or guidance and that every social worker’s caseload varies depending on the complexity of the cases, the number of children involved and their experience.

The national shortage of social workers is anticipated to continue for several years as the market catches up with increasing demand.

Several local authorities are carrying out specialist recruitment drives to attract new social workers and in some areas there has been some success.

Gloucestershire has its own special social worker recruitment website and the county council is also trying new ways of working to make life easier for staff.

That includes the creation of a new social worker ‘pod’ where staff work in the community in Gloucester to tackle high caseloads in the city.

Kathy O’Mahony, operations director, children’s safeguarding at Shire Hall, said: “Increasing and fluctuating demand for services does inevitably affect caseloads of our social workers and that’s why here in Gloucestershire we’re continually looking for new and innovative ways of dealing with this.

“For example the new Gloucester pods model, where our staff are located within a community to support local cases as a team.

“We have relatively low turnover of staff – in fact we have examples of social workers returning to Gloucestershire to work and we would love to hear from any good qualified social workers out there who might want to come and join us.”

Despite the shortage of social workers in Gloucestershire staff turnover is lower than the national average.

There are currently roles available in the following county council social work teams: referral and assessment, children and families, children and permanence, disabled children and young people and looked after children.

You can find out more about the jobs available at the recruitment micro-site On the Up at www.ontheup.net.

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