Balancing Act!

Have you ever noticed that when working in Social Work, that it is very easy for every thought and action to be related to work.  When working with young people or whatever field you do work in.  It is easy when you are with the individual or family to lose track of time.  Or more accurately, find it difficult to leave especially if they are still in crisis .  

I currently work in a looked after children’s team, where a lot of the young people aged between 16 and 18 live in unregulated placements.  This often means that the Social Workers are the main point of contact for these Young People.  Whether it be by telephone, or by taking them shopping, or by providing cooking lesson, or support with an appointment.  This is alongside and on top of the Statutory duties.

More often than not this can not be done during the working day, due to the Young Person attending college, or work, or perhaps because the emergency may not happen until later in the day.  

For me, as a father this can cause me problems.  Especially when I need to be back to collect my children from their after school club.  The consequences for me and my children if I am not back on time can be very serious.

With good childcare hard to find, and childcare that fits in with Social Work hours even harder.  Even emergencies need to be negotiated, as I juggle work and home life to maintain a balance.  

I guess that I am lucky that my wife understands the nature of the work as she too is currently studying to be a Social Worker.  But what has scared me is the number of divorce stories I have heard.  Where co-workers have worked all the hours and not maintained their relationships.  When the to do list never ends, and an attitude of wanting the best outcome for every Young Person, I can see how easy it could be to work every hour possible.

But perhaps it is important to remember that to maintain a good balance, is not easy unless you have good support network at work and at home.  That it is easy to tip the scales in order to help the young person in crisis.  Once this is done, finding balance again may not be easy.  

4 responses

  1. know its hard but you have to get that balance unless i'm doing stat work i try to leave on time you have to look at the larger picture you are a better worker if you are rested and not over stressed. When social workers do loads of hours as unpaid overtime it lets bosses of the hook they relie on workers feeling obliged but keep doing it n you burn out and leave rapid turnover of staff hurts the clients as well

  2. I tend to agree with John about work/life balances. It can be hard because we want to do our absolute best but it can't be done if our own home life struggles or we try and replace life with work. I'm reasonably fastidious about leaving work at 5pm (with very few exceptions) and try to offload at work rather than taking things home. But I've found writing some of my concerns out help me as well. Sometimes it's difficult if carers work and we have to try and work around that but I honestly can't afford to spend too much of my 'own' time on work because I know my own mental health and relationships depend on it.

  3. I generally agree, I encourage everyone to leave the office on time and to take their breaks. This is often met with groans and complaints about the number of statutory tasks that need to be completed. The Social Workers preferring to spend as much time with the Young People as they can.Having Children and writing this definitely helps me keep the balance, and enables me to explain nicely to the young people that sometimes I have to leave them. Sadly the rest of my team are young, and don't keep the healthy balance. The other thing I consider is the risk, and being able to allow young people to take their own risk can be scary. Luckily for me I can manage this but have seen others who can not!Great comments, and hope others who read this can find their own balances and methods of finding this rather than burning out and tipping the scales.

  4. Hopefully as you have recognised this and are aware you will keep that balance.

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