Lessons from abroad: Rebalancing accountability and pedagogy in the Irish social care sector through the use of effective leadership

Open access


A concern is emerging in Ireland that social care managers and staff are moving too far away from the ‘care’ in social ‘care’ work. In this paper a discussion of the impact of the bureaucratic procedures and regulation within the social work and social care work sectors is presented along with an exploration of leadership approaches. It is argued that certain leadership approaches, in particular pedagogical leadership, could not only help social care managers to negotiate the complex issues they are facing but also facilitate putting the ‘care’ back into social ‘care’ work. Pedagogical leadership is globally supported across a variety of human service disciplines: it facilitates the creation of a learning culture within the workplace where social care managers facilitate conversations with their teams to encourage reflection, critical thinking and contributions to the professional wisdom required for quality service. The purpose of this article is to contribute to the dialogue within leadership practice for social care professionals. This discourse is necessary if lessons are to be learned from past experiences in this country and others about how to balance the need for care, learning and compassion with accountability.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Andrews M. (2009). Managing change and pedagogical leadership. In A. Robins and S. Callan (Eds) Managing early years’ settings: Supporting and leading teams (pp. 45-64). London: Sage Publications.

  • Balloch S. Pahl J. & McLean J. (1998). Working in the social services: Job satisfaction stress and violence. British Journal of Social Work 28 (3) 329-50.

  • Banks S. (2006). Ethics accountability and the social professions. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Banks S. (2007). Between equity and empathy: Social professions and the new accountability. Social Work and Society 5 11-22.

  • Barry U. & Conlon C. (2010). Elderly care in Ireland - Provisions and providers. UCD School of Social Justice Working Papers 10 (1) 1-34.

  • Basu R. (2004). Public administration: Concepts and theories (5th ed.). New Delhi: Sterling Publishers.

  • Baxter J. Carston C. S. & Farebrother M. (2013). Phase 1 - Early learning and child care pilot project: A report for the Alberta Ministry of Human Services. Calgary Alberta: Mount Royal University.

  • Baxter J. Carston C. S. & Farebrother M. (2014). Phase II - Early learning and child care pilot project: A report for the Alberta Ministry of Human Services. Calgary Alberta: Mount Royal University.

  • Beresford P. (2014 August 7). Bureaucracy and bad management are changing social work. The Guardian.

  • Burck C. & Cooper A. (2007). Introduction: Dialogues and developments in social work practice: Applying systemic and psycho-analytical ideas in the real world. Journal of Social Work Practice 21 (2) 193-96.

  • Burns K. & McCarthy J. (2012). An impossible task? Implementing the recommendations of child abuse inquiry reports in a context of ‘high’ workloads in child protection and welfare. Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies 12 (1) 25-37.

  • Cheliotes L. G. & Reilly M. (2012). Opening the door to coaching conversations. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications.

  • Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. (2009). Report of the commission to inquire into child abuse. Dublin: The Stationery Office.

  • Davis K. & Mullender W. (1993). Ten turbulent years: A review of the work of the Derbyshire coalition of disabled people. Nottingham: Nottingham Centre for Social Action School of Social Studies University of Nottingham.

  • Dent M. & Whitehead S. (2002). Introduction: Configuring the ‘new’ professional. In M. Dent & S. Whitehead (Eds) Managing professional identities: Knowledge performativity and the ‘new’ professional (pp. 127-64). London: Routledge.

  • Department of Children School and Families. (2010). Working together to safeguard children: A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Retrieved from http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130401151715/https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eorderingdownload/00305-2010dom-en-v3.pdf [10 July 2016].

  • Department of Health. (2011). Future health: A strategic framework for reform of the health service 2012-2015. Dublin: Department of Health.

  • Fabianowska J. & Hanlon N. G. (2014). Emotional labour in harm-reduction practice in Ireland: An exploratory study. Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies 13 (1) 53-65.

  • Featherstone B. White S. & Wastell D. (2012). Ireland’s opportunity to learn from England’s difficulties? Auditing uncertainty in child protection. Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies 12 (1) 49-60.

  • Fenton M. (2015). Social care and child welfare in Ireland: Integrating residential care leaving care and aftercare. Dublin: Liffey Press.

  • Francis R. (2013). The Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust public inquiry. London: The Stationery Office.

  • Gallagher C. & Kennedy K. (2003). The training implications of a social care approach to working with older people. Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies 4 (1) 77-95.

  • Garfat T. (2001). New beginnings. Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies 2 (3) 31-5.

  • Gray I. Field R. & Brown K. (2010). Effective leadership management and supervision in health and social care. Exeter: Learning Matters.

  • Hafford-Letchfield T. Lambley S. Spolander G. & Cocker C. (2014). Inclusive leadership in social work and social care. Bristol: Policy Press.

  • Heikka J. & Waniganayake M. (2011). Pedagogical leadership from a distributed perspective within the context of early childhood education. International Journal of Leadership in Education 14 (4) 499-512.

  • Hersey P. K. & Blanchard K. (1982). Management of organisational behaviour (4th ed.). Englewoods Cliff NJ: Prentice Hall.

  • HIQA. (2010). Draft national standards for child protection and welfare. Dublin: The Stationery Office.

  • HIQA. (2013). Overview of findings of 2012 children’s inspection activity: Foster care and children’s residential services. Dublin: The Stationery Office.

  • Howard N. (2012). The Ryan report (2009): A practitioner’s perspective on implications for residential child care. Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies 12 (4) 38-47.

  • Howard N. (2014). The Irish association of social care workers. In N. Howard & D. Lyons (Eds) Social care: Learning from practice (pp. 12-23). Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.

  • HSCIC. (2014). Busting bureaucracy: Collaborative audit findings and recom - menda tions. London: The Stationery Office.

  • HSE. (2011). Time to move on from congregated settings: A strategy for community inclusion. Retrieved from http://www.hse.ie [6 July 2016].

  • International Federation of Social Workers. (2010). Standards in social work practice meeting human rights - The basis for a common framework of standards in social work practice in Europe. Berlin: IFSW European Region.

  • Irish Association of Social Workers. (2011). Call for change discussion document: Children and families social workers make their voices heard. Dublin: The Stationery Office.

  • Johnston S. C. Cooper C. Cartwright I. Taylor D. P. & Millet C. (2005). The experience of work related stress across occupations. Journal of Managerial Psychology 20 (2) 178-87.

  • Killeen A. (2014). Achieving independent living for people with disabilities. In N. Howard & D. Lyons (Eds) Social care: Learning from practice (pp. 94-107). Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.

  • Lalor K. & Share P. (Eds). (2009). Applied social care: An introduction for students in Ireland (2nd ed.). Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.

  • Lalor K. & Share P. (2013). Understanding social care. In K. Lalor & P. Share (Eds) Applied social care: An introduction for students in Ireland (3rd ed.). Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.

  • Laming L. (2003). The Victoria Climbié inquiry report. London: The Stationery Office.

  • Laming L. (2009.) The protection of children in England: A progress report. London: The Stationery Office.

  • Lenihan E. & Sweeney J. (2010). Measuring levels of burnout among care workers. Learning Disability Practice 13 (8) 27-33.

  • Lloyd C. King R. & Chenoweth L. (2002). Social work stress and burnout: A review. Journal of Mental Health 11 (3) 255-66.

  • Lynch B. McCormack B. & McCance T. (2011). Development of a model of situational leadership in residential care for older people. Journal of Nursing Management 19 1058-69.

  • Male T. & Palaiologou I. (2012). Learning-centred leadership or pedagogical leadership? An alternative approach to leadership in education contexts. International Journal of Leadership in Education 15 (1) 107-18.

  • Male T. & Palaiologou I. (2015). Pedagogical Leadership in the 21st century: Evidence from the field. Educational Management Administration and Leadership 43 (2) 214-31.

  • McCarthy B. (2006). Organisational stress in social care [Doctoral thesis]. Retrieved from arrow.dit.ie [6 July 2016].

  • Mendes L. & Fradique M. J. J. (2013). Influence of nursing leadership on quality nursing care. International Journal of Health Care 27 (5) 439-50.

  • Mesabbah M. & Arisha A. (2016). Performance management of the public healthcare services in Ireland: A review. International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance 29 (2) 209-35.

  • Moss P. (2006). Structures understanding and discourses: Possibilities for reenvisioning the early childhood worker. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood 7 30-41.

  • Moyle W. Venturio L. Cooke M. Hughes J. & VanWyks M. (2013). Promoting value in dementia care: Staff resident and family experience of the capabilities model of dementia care. Aging Mental Health 17 (5) 587-94.

  • Munro E. (2010). The Munro review of child protection. Part 1: A systems analysis. London: The Stationery Office.

  • Munro E. (2011). The Munro review of child protection. Final report: A childcentred system. London: The Stationery Office.

  • National Disability Authority. (2011). The introduction of individual budgets as a resource allocation system for disability services in Ireland. Dublin: Department of Health.

  • O’Donovan M. (2015). The challenges of distributing leadership in Irish postprimary schools. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education 8 (2) 243-66.

  • Ombudsman for Children. (2013). A meta-analysis of repetitive root cause issues regarding the provision of services to children in care. Retrieved from http://www.oco.ie/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/OCOMeta-analysisofservicesforchildrenincare.pdf [6 July 2016].

  • Sergiovanni T. J. (1998). Leadership as pedagogy capital development and school effectiveness. International Journal of Leadership in Education 1 37-46.

  • Skills and Labour Market Research Unit. (2009). Monitoring Ireland’s skill supply. Dublin: The Stationery Office.

  • Skills for Care and the Children’s Workforce Development Council. (2007). Providing effective supervision. London: Stationery Press.

  • Smith M. (2009). Rethinking residential child care. Bristol: The Policy Press.

  • Smith M. (2016 April). Considering care. Paper presented at the annual conference of Social Care Ireland Naas Co Kildare.

  • Smyth E. Healy O. & Lydon S. (2015). An analysis of stress burnout and work commitment among disability support staff in the UK. Research in Developmental Disabilities 47 297-305.

  • Trevethick T. (2003). Effective relationship-based practice: A theoretical exploration. Journal of Social Work Practice 17 (2) 163-76.

  • Walker D. (2008). Communication and social work from an attachment perspective. Journal of Social Work Practice: Psychotherapeutic Approaches in Health Welfare and the Community 22 (1) 5-13.

  • Wastell D. (2011). Managers as designers in the public services: Beyond technomagic. Devon: Triarchy Press.

  • Wenger E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning meaning and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Journal information
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 337 179 17
PDF Downloads 274 149 21