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Abstract

This paper examines how the progression towards the professionalisation and regulation of the Social Care profession in Ireland is taking place in a global policy context. It suggests that the development and definition of social care work is influenced by wider policy factors established on a global stage but enacted at national and ultimately local level. The ‘kind of’ profession that is established may not only be shaped by evidence-informed practice, Standards of Proficiency (SCWRB, 2017) or a deepening understanding of the needs of vulnerable adult and child service-users, but also by a national interpretation of a neo-liberal global ideological climate (Apple, 2014). So, what are the implications for Social Care professionals? Just as global climate change can impact differently on local contexts, the global ideological climate can be experienced differently at local level. This analogy can be continued to characterize a paralysis or helplessness that can occur at local level in the face of a seemingly all-encompassing global force. The call to ‘Think globally, Act locally’ (Borkova, 2012) in response to climate change and global governance, demands action, engagement and learning at all levels of society. Enactment Theory (Ball et al., 2011) is introduced here as providing a model (and challenge) for social care workers to proactively engage with policy as it impacts on their practice. The careful and necessary nurturing of an emerging Social Care profession demands the same commitment both at national (policymaking) level, but more crucially on the part of practitioners, managers and educators at a local level i.e. where the work occurs. This paper concludes with a model exercise that encourages practice conversation that includes policy as an intrinsic part of professional social care work.

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