Making A Difference – Stoke on Trent’s Journey of service re-design and its evaluation
Making a Difference
Amanda Owen: Strategic Manager Safeguarding & Quality
Tracey Ellison: Principal Child & Family Social Worker &
•Focus on forming effective relationships with families
with staff being able to engage more therapeutically.
Developing a team approach to managing children’s
cases with a good skill mix.
•Practice based on evidence of what works and staff
confident to apply this with consistent and transparent
•A flexible service able to respond to children’s needs.
44 social work pods created in safeguarding, children in care
and children with disability team
Duty function re-designed to create Advice and Referral Team
(ART). Their remit to make a determination on whether
contact meets level of need criteria to trigger services. Any
assessment function sent directly into the pods
Contact service established to supervise and support contact.
3 Pods per Practice Manager – CIC
4 Pods per Practice Manager – S&S
How it all works…
Pods are on a seven weekly duty function, taking referrals and undertaking
Cases allocated to pods with a primary/lead work but with all other pod
members are co-workers on recorded as such on the system.
Pod postcards provided to family and professionals to introduced pod and
Cases discussed at weekly pod meetings which provide the case
supervision element. Case within pods should be discussed on a 4/5
weekly cycle and chaired by the practice manager
•Independent evaluation undertaken by National
Foundation for Educational Research (NFER).
•We wanted to evaluate the approach
•Identify the direction of travel
•Plan future developments
•The evaluation is a qualitative research project
•Semi-structured interview schedules used for
parents, children, young people and staff
•Random sample of pods evaluated across service
•Sample of staff covering a range of roles
•Stoke has made substantial progress in implementing Making a
Difference which is driving a culture change in relation to the
delivery of its social work services.
•The full potential has not yet been fully realised and embedded,
as not all staff have undertaken systemic training and size and
complexity of caseloads.
•Staff are committed and have got used to working in pods.
They value the collaborative working model, sharing knowledge
and expertise and peer support and challenge which they say
has improved their practice.
• Staff consider that their professional development to date
has given them an appropriate combination of skills and
confidence to carry out their role effectively.
• Staff believe that Making a Difference is making a difference
to families by giving them more access to support through
the pod system. They say this model as opposed to a
traditional model better meets the needs of families because
it is more inclusive, focusing on the whole family and its
history and more interactive by seeking families views on
shaping support and their future.
• Young people think things have got better since social
workers became involved and feel safer.
• The support they have received has helped them stay in
school or college
• Parents responses are mixed – questioning if staff
understood the family situation and needs, their
involvement in decisions. Would like a more flexible and
sensitive service, whilst others feel that get a fair deal,
meets their needs
•Was the approach introduced too quickly
•Families can be confused about pod working
•Some families prefer one worker
•Number of cases limit more therapeutic work
•A continued commitment to systemic
practice, ensuring all staff have skills and
knowledge base required.
Morning Lane National Redesign Network
Chief Social Worker
Recent research – Tilda Goldberg Institute
Munro demonstrator developer sites
Serious Case Review –Isle of Wight
Making a Difference – What is the difference?
•Pods exploring family relationships and dynamics together.
Feel they have a better understanding of families.
•Pods using genograms to track family patterns across.
•Staff feel more confidence in their practice.
•Collective approach used to work with agencies and family
•Re-written our career progression policy to
include attainment of the certificate in systemic
•Job Descriptions re-defined to embrace Making a
•We are committed to the benefits of this approach
to take us forward
“Making a Difference is making a culture change within
the organisation. It is maturing as more staff continue
to apply systemic approach to their social work