Salford leading the way digitally in social work education
The University of Salford’s Social Work Practice Learning Team (SWPLT) has had a digital capabilities model recognised as an industry-standard ‘practice example’ by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).
The team has been working with the Social Care Network (SCN) for the past 5 years to create The Salford Model, integrating the use of digital databases and industry simulation to prepare students for the working world.
Students are trained to operate Charms, a digital application developed by SCN, which is used by over 300 social care agencies across the UK and Ireland for case management.
Through lectures and then reinforced by a simulation week, students get to practise case recordings, reflections, supervisions, and agendas within the application. They can share these through the application with the academic staff and receive support and feedback.
Gabi Hesk, Lecturer in Social Work and Practice Learning says, ‘We are ahead of the game when it comes to working with employers. The Salford Model has been useful in terms of employability, as students can put it on their CV and talk about their experiences in interviews.’
She also explains how the Model allows students to ‘ask questions in a safe environment’ before they go into practice.
‘Students have the chance to make mistakes here first, they can explore their case recording skills and receive great advice from lecturers and tutors ensuring best practice.’
The Salford Model is in line with Social Work England Qualifying Education and Training Standards 2020, as well as the new Digital Capabilities Framework for Social Workers. The British Association for Social Workers (BASW) state that the standards are explicit and that ‘social workers require digital capabilities to practice.’
‘It’s kudos for the SWPLT to have a practice example recognised by such huge organisations in the social work industry – and alongside local authorities,’ Gabi added. ‘It demonstrates that we’ve been doing this for a long time and that our model is well developed.’
The Salford Model is already being discussed with Arizona State University, where SCN has set up a base, and there is interest in CHARMS across the social care community there.
‘Ultimately, it would be great to have a tool that we can market and share with other universities,’ Gabi said.
SCN managing director Jim Moores, said, ‘CHARMS is designed from the perspective of operational users - social workers, foster carers, care workers, adopters and children and vulnerable adults looked after. 50,000 individual users have CHARMS accounts and they use them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Our work with The University of Salford puts IT in the hands of all practitioners and support staff.’
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