Reflection on the “Social Services Leading Care in the Community” ESN Seminar

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Reflection on the “Social Services Leading Care in the Community” ESN Seminar

This article has been written by Laura Kerr, our Adult Policy and Practice Lead, who attended the seminar in October 2023. If you would like to contact Laura, please get in touch via

In October 2023, Laura Kerr, our Adult Policy and Practice Lead, attended and spoke at the European Social Services Seminar on Social Services Leading Care in the Community in Barcelona, Spain. The seminar was organised by the European Social Network to discuss how we can further promote community care across Europe.

As Policy and Practice Lead for adult social work, it was a real privilege to meet with colleagues from across Europe who are so committed to ensuring dignity, choice and control are at the heart of service design and delivery, and that Human Rights enablement directs their work.  The premise of the seminar was how to transition from delivering care and support in large scale institutions to community-based person-centred care.

Interestingly, even though there was significant variability in countries’ progress of transition, there were clear commonalities across all of us.

  1. Problems related to structural poverty are evident across Europe. Social and Health Inequality persists.
  2. There is a need to balance the medical and social models of disability in policy, system, and service design.
  3. There are significant workforce capacity issues affecting all public services, coupled with increasingly complex demand on services.
  4. The continued impact of lockdown(s) related to the COVID 19 pandemic response, means that we need to review the models of social support.
  5. We are not working alone, in Europe – we are impacted by humanitarian crises.

Some enablers to high quality, community-based social care;

  • Social planning is essential – this is a combination of public health data and service data to understand demographics, impact and forecasting. This data analysis will support our belief that community care is best and is affordable when investment is redirected.
  • The enactment of Human Rights must be at the centre of community-based health and social care delivery.
  • Supported Decision Making is crucial to the realisation of good quality, person centred care and support
  • Integrated care, across housing and community planning, as well as community health, social work and social care is essential to address inequality.

Slides and accompanying narrative for my presentation (subject – Improving Quality in Community based care:  A Scottish perspective) are available on request.

All presentations are available here –

 “The European Social Network advocates for everyone with care or support needs to be enabled to live in their homes and communities. This approach is also supported by the EU Spanish Presidency and the Regional Government of Catalonia, with whom we are jointly organising this seminar to discuss how we can further promote community care across Europe.”