Islington Council is developing and implementing an evidence-based practice model, built on the foundations of motivational interviewing. Doing What Counts and Measuring What Matters (DWC MWM) sets out seven elements of social worker skills that are linked to good outcomes for children. At its heart is skilful, relationship-based practice that builds consensus with the family and supports self-motivated behaviour change. Early indications are that MSW has enabled Islington to significantly improve social worker skills, improve parents’ experience of social work practice, and reduce numbers of looked after children by 7.7% over the first 8 months.
The practice model is built on seven elements. These are evocation, collaboration, autonomy, empathy, purposefulness, clarity about concerns, and child focus. These elements combine social work values and skills that can be measured as behaviours during practice. Islington have significantly improved the practice skills of their workforce by teaching, observation, and coaching around the seven elements.
What is measured has a huge impact on practice culture and Islington measures both the skills of social workers working directly with families and collects detailed feedback from parents and children. Practice reports collate learning from observation and coaching, with direct feedback from parents. Islington are also observing case supervision and grading it for effectiveness, providing coaching and feedback sessions for managers to help them improve their supervision. Their aim is to develop behaviour measures for practitioners and managers, in a variety of practice settings, and use specific feedback and coaching to improve practice at all levels.
Islington have focused on implementing their model in the first two years of the PiP programme and are now developing their sector improvement offer. They are considering how to share their learning with other local authorities.