NHS Highland has a new director of adult social care. She is 46-year-old Joanna Macdonald who takes over from Brian Robertson who has retired.
Ms Macdonald has vast experience in social work, having started her career as a relief general assistant at Invernevis care home in Fort William – a facility she was later to manage.
Among her other posts were senior social care worker at Dail Mohr care home in Strontian, and social work manager for home care, day care and housing support for Aberdeenshire Council.
Ms Macdonald believes that one of the keys to providing better care is raising the profile of social work as a profession.
She explained: “Social workers and healthcare staff have key responsibilities legislatively, which is good, but as the boundaries between their work get more blurred, social work deserves more than ever to be recognised as an important, diverse profession.
“They work as part of multi-disciplinary teams that include people from a clinical background. That means that we are better able to give more holistic care and support to people, and to have the person at the centre of what we do.”
As an example of the multi-disciplinary approach, Ms Macdonald spoke of the co-location of social work and healthcare staff in Fort William Health Centre, a move which took place when she was district manager there.
She said: “We now have, for example, dieticians and people from our mental health team working very closely together. Another example is ensuring that every GP practice in the area has a designated social worker attached to it. This kind of joined-up approach can only provide faster and batter care for people.”
Ms Macdonald graduated with a BA in Social Work from Robert Gordon University, having done a distance learning course, in 2003, and his currently working on a Masters degree through Edinburgh University, her subject being the integration of health and social care.
As a keep-fit enthusiast, she has completed 12 marathons, 30 half-marathons and three triathlons.