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'There are wonderful social workers but it's a lottery': Older people's views about social workers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Jill Manthorpe, Jo Moriarty, Joan Rapaport, R Clough, Michelle Cornes, L Bright, S Iliffe, OPRSI

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1132 - 1150
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2008

King's Authors


This paper draws on the evaluation of the impact of the English National Service Framework for Older People (NSFOP) on the experiences and expectations of older people, four years into its ten-year programme. The NSFOP focuses on achieving cultural changes so that older people and their carers are treated with respect, dignity and fairness. The evaluation took a mixed methods consultation approach in ten localities. This paper focuses on what was said by older people, their carers and in voluntary sector groups about social workers' roles and activities. The data suggest that they find social workers' roles unclear and variable. They appreciate a person-centred approach, informed about older people's needs in a confusing social care system. Their perceptions tally with those of social workers that the tasks of care management can be reductionist, but older people also desire specialist knowledge combined with a relationship that is 'on their side'. Social workers' roles in rationing support and means-testing did not seem to promote such models. At a time of rising expectations about the skills of social workers and of changes to social work roles in England and Scotland, this study provides one of the few examples of information directly gathered from older people themselves.

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