When is a title not a title?

Have you ever wondered how you could develop an interest into a speciality at work? for some people they happen to be in the right place and the right time.  From Social Worker to Commissioning Officer or from Social Worker to independent Social Worker completing Age assessments, or Initial Carers Assessments for the Courts.  Every team needs to promote skills or strengths right? of Course!

But what happens if the role you have developed, comes with no power or meaning! Making your title and job description confused.  This for me and my team has been causing a dilemma, and creating a unhealthy tension between two teams.  The other team containing unqualified workers, and all with specialist roles in one field or another.  The dilemma is always around resources, and the impact that each person has on these limited resources.  Our teams should be working together to support each other and improving the outcomes for the Young People we work with, using the knowledge gained from these specialist roles to do this.

An example of this is a Housing Officer who from a meeting that was held this week learnt that he is no more than a glorified Caretaker.  However, a very powerful one at that, who could visit a housing project run by the teams and influence whether a Young Person can remain there or not.  

People who may read this blog regularly will know what my views are on risk, and when working with adolescents the balance of risk needs to be understood in far greater depth and not one that can be generalised for all young people.  So understandably my blood boils when I am called to attend a meeting by the “Housing Officer” because the Young People living in the project do not always keep it clean, sometimes drink alcohol and smoke.   The assessments that are made by the team around their Young People, become meaningless because a worker who has not spent the time reading the files, speaking with all professionals and the family and analysing the need has decided the risk is to high.   

Now I understand that there is a need to support these young people, and this is where the biggest argument is created.  The “Housing Officer” is a Caretaker, his role is to look after the building and not the Young People.  The Social Worker, would love to have time to complete one to one direct work but due to size of case loads and the ongoing nature of Social Work time does not allow this.  The Personal Advisor whose role is to assist, support and oh…… develop their own specialist role not their job.

So sometimes I can see why so many people can get angry at their Local Authority.  Who encourage and create job titles with no meaning and power and in doing this duplicating work and pointless meetings wasting every ones time.  I can see why privatising some parts of Social Care can create more efficiency.  Social Work should be for Children, Child focused and enabling and supportive of the transition into adulthood rather than being held back by another persons misguided understanding of how individuals should live within their own home. 


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