This chapter was reviewed and updated in May 2019.
Caseloads in Social Care are of key importance for social work practice and this was emphasised in the standards for employers of Social Workers in England, published by the Local Government Association, and we have adopted the underpinning principles in relation to workload management- namely:
As a social worker you should expect to:
- Have the right environment in which to excel within your work;
- Have benchmarks for safe workloads set for your area;
- Have your workload regularly assessed in agreed/planned reviews taking account of its complexity, your individual capacity and time needed for supervision;
- Have your work allocated transparently and with prior discussion;
- Have your professional judgement about workload capacity issues respected;
- Have your workload adjusted where demand exceeds staffing capacity.
The objective of this policy is to enable social workers and other practitioners to:
- Deliver consistent high quality services in which they are proud of;
- Achieve positive outcomes for children and families;
- Prevent work overload and safeguard staff and service users from the risks associated with demand management, high caseloads and the impact on practice standards.
There is no clear national or local guidance regarding caseloads with great variations between local authorities. Within this service it is likely that there will be variations in caseloads between teams reflecting the differences in the nature of the work being undertaken and the risks being managed.
It is likely that there will be times when the actual caseloads will be higher than the aspiration set out in this policy. This should only be the case temporarily and if there are reasons to believe that such a situation would last longer than it would be sustainable it is the Team Manager's responsibility to raise this critical issue with the respective Service Manager.
- The number of cases on the caseload of a practitioner is in itself not a reliable measure of the workload in the day-to-day work and as such cannot be used as an aid for the line manager to decide whether or not the practitioner has the capacity to take on new work or is able to deal with the current workload. Discussion about the relative complexity of cases and the impact on capacity should be recorded in the supervision record;
- It is been recognised that NQSW Social Workers completing their ASYE should initially have no more than approximately 80% of a caseload in comparison to the recommended caseload of a post ASYE qualified Social Worker. In practice this means that a NQSW caseload is initially likely to be no more than 8-10 children. In the first 3-6 months of their ASYE it is recommended that NQSWs should not hold sole case responsibility for high risk Child Protection or court cases. However, their capacity increases throughout their assessed year as they gain experience. This will be agreed in supervision between them and their line manager and their ASYE mentor;
- Any deviations from the average caseload have to be agreed in supervision. The number of cases on the caseload of a practitioner is in itself not a reliable measure of the workload in the day-to-day work and as such cannot be used as an aid for the line manager to decide whether or not the practitioner has the capacity to take on new work or is able to deal with the current workload. Discussion about the relative complexity of cases and the impact on capacity should be recorded in the supervision record;
- If a team holds a caseload higher than the overall average this will be monitored by the Senior Management Team (SMT) which will then report on remedial actions to the Departmental Management Team (DMT);
- Student social workers / graduate trainees will not be allocated cases directly. They will be recorded as 'involved' workers and the cases will be primarily allocated to their supervisor;
- Team & Deputy Managers should not carry a caseload.
Caseloads for practitioners:
|Team Care Leavers 18 plus||25|
|Looked After Children 0-17||15|
|Children with a disability||18|
|Central East North South and West||18|
|1.||When allocating new cases the line manager has to review the current caseload of the practitioner who will be receiving a new case.||Line Manager||Recorded on personal file|
|2.||Where the workload of a worker exceeds the maximum workload the reason for allocating a new case has to be clearly recorded in the personal supervision folder.||Line Manager||Recorded on personal supervision file|
|3.||The Social Work Manager retains the right to allocate cases to social workers even if such allocation exceeds the maximum workload. Social Work Managers must explain the reason for this action to the social worker and take responsibility for reprioritising their workload. Such allocation must be time specified and subject to regular review.||Line Manager||Recorded on personal supervision file|
|4.||If the caseload continues to exceed the maximum workload for longer than a three-month period, and it is the assessment of the Social Work Manager and the Social Worker that the work will be ongoing, Senior Managers must be informed who will attempt to rectify the situation.||Line Manager & Service Manager||Recorded on personal supervision file|
An analysis of caseloads should be undertaken at least every 12 weeks as part of supervision.
This analysis includes:
|Line Manager||Recorded on personal file|
|6.||Average caseloads of staff per team need to be reviewed by SMT fortnightly.||SMT||Recorded in minutes of SMT|