Have you ever wondered how easy is it to communicate what you want to say? When you are anxious or nervous, angry, sad or just confused! for me I can find it very difficult and often find myself tripping over the words that I want to say.
However, as a Social Worker we learn that communication is a powerful tool that needs to be used carefully in order to make positive changes. Some people would argue however, more could be done to support families in order to help them communicate with their social worker.
Communication is therefore defined as: ‘the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium’: (Oxford dictionary).
As a Social Worker working with young people I find myself very conscious about how I communicate and often consider how I can create an environment that promotes communication. Each person I meet is different, and the way that they want to talk to me is different. Some prefer a soft caring approach, other young people need and prefer a firmer approach to help them feel safe.
But what is lost is that the spoken word is only a small amount of information that is being communicated at any time. It is very easy to argue that someone is not listening. However, it is not as easy to argue that someone is not listening when you are saying one thing whilst carrying out different actions.
There is no magic wand that can change this, our non verbal communication is often done by our subconscious. And the most damaging especially when the Social Worker meets someone for the first time and the wrong signals are sent to each other, which means an honest exchange of information is going to be harder to achieve.
In order to safeguard children is is therefore important to understand for families to understand it is okay to be challenged, as long as the points they are being challenged on are answered honestly. It is also therefore okay for this to be reciprocated and families challenge decisions made in an appropriate way, either through the complaints procedure or Judicial Review depending on the decision being made.
It is in my opinion that certainly when working with young people that support is being provided to enable good communication, through their pathway planning, looked after children’s reviews, advocates or solicitors. I would also like to see more children and young people being encouraged to take part in Participation events, working with Children’s Trusts to develop the services in their area to meet their needs.
I would also like to see the stigma being removed from people who need to have the support of Social Services and maybe their is a time for a change in title. However, the role of the social worker is very important and families should not live in fear that Social Care may knock on their door. Instead communities should work hand in hand with social care to promote a more positive supportive relationship, focusing on early intervention rather than removal.