Time out

Have you ever had a day where everything is going wrong, cases blowing up around you? and you look up, and watch what everyone else is doing?  Have you ever noticed how its always the same people that always keep their heads down and that are in early and leave late.  I often wonder whether this is sign that everyone else is feeling the same as I do.

When days like this happen it is so easy to allow everything to get on top of you, and sink in the feeling of dread that you are not making any progress! 

And for one Social Worker this week, I could just see this starting to happen.  After she had called in sick I became concerned as to why.  Over the weekend two of her cases had been playing up and it was clear that she was worried about them.  Both were making complaints about their care and demonstrating extreme behaviour of self harm because they were not    getting what they wanted.

Added pressure was being created by the placements not coping with their behaviour and the recent cut backs straining the support available for both the young people and the Social Worker.   

A common question that is often asked by almost everyone is “How do you cope with the job that you do?” and the easy answer is that some people can not.  We are human after all and when dealing with stressful situations sometimes enough is enough.  But what is important is good Supervision, and a good peer support.  And at a time where there is a lot change taking place, as team members change due to long term agency staff being replaced.  Offices are changing as Local Authority’s sell off buildings in order to save money.  All of which impacts on the working environment, and increasing stress and pressures on workers.

So this week I have been exploring the need for good Supervision, helped by completing a half day training course in ‘reflective Supervision’ provide by Research in Practise.  Supervision is an important part of Social Work, and to providing job satisfaction “Social work supervision: contexts and concepts” (SCIE).  I recognised that for this Social Worker there was a need to help facilitate supervision to help understand how she was feeling and also be reflective on the practise and help develop plans.  

Since I have joined this team it has been an interesting process developing supervision and Peer Supervision.  When I joined the team, supervision was a prescriptive meeting for the workers only interested in me giving decisions for their cases.  My training reinforced my supervision style, and has also created a new way for my Supervises to reflect in their own supervision.   

3 responses

  1. I can see this social worker is a person who is thoughtful about her work and her colleagues. But particularly her 'colleagues'.It is both simplistic and judgemental of vulnerable people who use mental health services to analyse their disturbed behavious that originates from trauma as being the result of 'not getting what they want'. I object to this vehemently since it implies their pain is just about reaction to not being given the equivalent of a lolly pop', not as it is, a reaction to deep needs repeatedly and continuously being denied, a person being repeatedly and continuously not understood and invalidated. The same phenomenon might be described in physical terms when a baby cannot get milk from its mothers breast, and is consequently suffering from starvation. So, the child screams because 'he,she is not getting what they want'??? Simplistic & judgemental, and this is waht is wrong with so many 'professionals', social workers in this case, their training and insight-lack.

  2. Thank you Gravylady, assumptions can be the down fall of any person. And any young person who has suffered trauma does need support from the right people.

  3. Unfortunately such phrases do not only reflect individual assumptions but the attitudes are endemic – systemic. It shows a lack of intelligent thinking by the individuals concerned. Words that are judgemental, and approaches that are simplistic, can do a lot of damage to a vulnerable person's ability to discover that healthy sense of self social workers need to be helping them to establish. I realise in a pressurized setting such as SWs now have, this 'thinking time' is not necessarily easy to find, but if the job is to be constructive rather than as it is in my view in many cases 'destructive', it is not a job worth doing. I say this from a position of having been very damaged by this system.

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