July 10, 2017

Accessible Summary: Named social workers – better social work for learning disabled people?

what is a good social worker?

what is a good social worker?We (Elaine James, Hannah Morgan and Rob Mitchell) wrote an article for the Current Issues section of the journal Disability & Society to share our ideas about how social work with people with learning disabilities can be more effective at upholding and promoting people’s rights. For us social work practice must be grounded in the social model of disability and demonstrate expertise in equality, mental capacity and human rights law. We are organising a one day conference in September 2017 to share what we have learned and would like to hear what you think. You can email Elaine James or contact Elaine, Hannah and Rob on twitter.

The article is free to access at

Our colleague Rebecca Fish has produced an accessible summary of the article

Social WorkerThis article is about people with learning disabilities having access to their own, named social worker.

The Department of Health wanted to find out if this is good thing. They asked local authorities to take part in the Named Social Worker project.





We at Calderdale Adult Social Care and Lancaster University worked together on this project.

We got help from a self-advocacy group called Lead the Way.



We wanted to be part of this project because we want to improve the way social workers work with people with learning disabilities.

We think that social workers control the lives of people with learning disabilities too much.




InstitutionWe believe in the social model of disability. The social model says that people are disabled because the world is not accessible enough.

We think that people with learning disabilities are not treated fairly.

We are not happy that people with learning disabilities get put in long stay hospitals. This happens because staff think they are a risk to themselves or other people.


Accessible Working Group DiscussionSocial workers often try to protect people with learning disabilities from risk. This means that people do not get to make choices for themselves.

Choice House





People with learning disabilities should be allowed to make their own decisions. Social workers and staff should not stop people making their own choices even if they disagree with them.

We think that people’s families should be listened to better. They should be helped to get support in the community.

When families do ask for help, their loved one should not be sent to a care home or hospital. This is too restrictive.

Think Time (1)We think that people are kept in hospitals and units for too long. Long term care does not help people.

We want more to be done to get people back home.

Institution Community 2



We think that social workers should always think about Human Rights. They should help people and not just tell them what to do.

Social workers should give advice and help people to access support. They should tell people what is available in the community.

We hope that this project will improve the way social workers support people with learning disabilities.

You can download a copy  of this easy read summary as a pdf document

All pictures used are from CHANGE