Monthly Archives: May, 2012

River boat


Social work can be like a slow boat, slowly chugging along the river, all big and bulky with lots of people trying to make the boat get to where it is meant to be going.  Every now and again it is felt that this is all wrong and rather than change the boat and the purpose of the vessel to save money their seems, instead to be a more ruthless practise of either asking people to jump or more unceremoniously pushed.

Like many professions change is inevitable and often good, after all social work practise has had to change and helpfully in line with the Jubilee, Community Care show the past 60 years of social work here.

Similarly when change happens some skills are lost along with knowledge, and for many professions the idea that knowledge is held within social work is a new concept.  With a degree and masters degree and more social workers being able to undertake research into neglect, abuse, domestic violence, family placements and like me Age Assessments and many other social issues, this knowledge base is growing bigger.

So with change comes a lot of positivity, and a wake up call for all social workers and social work managers that our learning never stops.  In order to support families a better understanding of culture and modern culture is needed.  Social Workers need to be able to respond to crisis with an up to date understanding of family life and how social media affects and impacts on social relationships and abuse.

I am excited about social work and how I can be involved in shaping the future of it.  Although this is slowly within my work place, each day I challenge some of those older views.  Each day I learn something new that makes me read more, not that this will help me understand but it will allow me to be better prepared.

I will not see the manager that gave me my first social work job again, but I will not forget the gift I was given with my first job.  I will not forget the lesson that even with many years of social work that change is not needed so rather than me being changed I will continue to adapt my practise to fit Social Work, because the change I want to make is for the young people to achieve the outcomes they want.


picture credit to:

The ten year plan

What every person needs is a ten year plan to work towards, a plan which sets out clearly step by step your actions that need to take place to affect change and also improve outcomes.  Ten years? [wow] what a long time, I can barely set out a plan for five years before something comes along and changes what I want to do, let alone for me to have the financial ability to carry it out.

However, here it is the Governments collectively since 2004 have had a ten year plan, and I guess that the start and finish times are slightly fluid in movement to fit in with whenever the Local Authority’s achieve the change needed to boast about sufficiently.

I was wondering whether the current coalition understood social work in any form.  Did they understand the changes that were recommended by Eileen Munro, although even before Eileen Munro began talking about improving child protection procedures the Government had already decided on what it called the ‘Every child Matters: Change for Children’ plan.

In 2004 the Children Act 2004 was introduced with some key changes in place to improve the outcomes for all children.  This included a necessity of all LA’s to have a Children’s Director, an elected councillor who will have links with the local Safeguarding board.

The change for Children plan put clearly at it heart clear defined outcomes that would be linked to the OFSTED inspections and placing responsibility with all organisations to be responsible for providing improved outcomes for the vulnerable young people they were engaging through Joint area reviews (JAR).

Furthermore it found that the consultation from Every Child Matters that better outcomes will be secured by services working more effectively at the front line to meet the needs of the children.  even in 2004 it was identified that there needed to be a massive culture change in the way the service delivery was provided, with narrowing resources and budgets by pooling what is available and having a joined up front line service children and their families could be sign posted to the right service sooner rather than later.  It would also mean that children would not lose the benefit of the specialism that exist within different teams.

However, it is only today that these teams are being openly talked about although some have been in place longer.  On the BBC website talks about Northamptonshire County Council setting up a Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub or (MASH).

The idea of which is really exciting and means that whether these teams are vital or physical that better communication, assessments and working will lead to a reduction of families needing high end social care involvement and children achieving better outcomes.

It would be interesting though to wonder where the Munro review fitted into this and whether this is the driver to ensure the 10 year plan is achieved and needed? and whether the two plans can work together as many LA’s are still trying to implement massive budget reductions and reorganisations to achieve this, whilst offering the best service to children and young people.


To survive?

A quick survival guide to social work, don’t you just love the idea that you could open a book and then it will tell you the answers that you need to be able to get through the complexities of social work practise on any given day.

Okay I am a little skeptical that such a book could provide the answers, it would be nice if it could though.  But this then leads to the argument why would you need a survival guide? Yes social work is fast paced, with lots of pressure, arguments and disagreements and that’s just with the management trying to implement their children and young people’s plan.  Let alone the difficulties in engaging families that have either not agreed they need your intervention or support.

Social Work for the past eight years has tried desperate to move from being a vocation to a regulated professional body.  With this has come the degree course as standard entry now into social work and until July [2012] the General Social Care Council to regulate our registrations and poor performance.  Furthermore we have even finally got The College of Social Work to promote, support and advise on practise.

All of which leads to a point well made in my copy of the PSW [Professional Social Work] by Peter Unwin, Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Worcester.  Who says

I am concerned by a recent tendency for social work to be pitched as a profession in which one might be able to ‘survive’ (May 2012)

A comment about recent articles and journals about social workers promoting an image of surviving.  When in which I completely agree with should be promoting social workers to thrive.  To take control of their practise and be more proactive in bringing change to the social work profession.

This view point has a major impact in every way that social work is seen.  In the Courts where social work analysis needs to be respected to enable the right decisions to be made to the media where relationships can be developed and lost within the communities we have to work.

Social Work is hard, and yes there is a very real risk of secondary post traumatic stress disorder from dealing with the numbers of sexual and physical abuse cases we deal with.  And for the daily mail readers this is not just a tap on the back of the hand! And as a manager I see this as part of my role to ensure good supervision is given and as a leader I encourage positive social work development.

Day to day practise may involve fire fighting, case loads are growing the levels of need are also growing.  But so is Social Work Knowledge, and so is the passion of the workers involved to make positive changes.  And Why Groups such as Social Work/Social Care and Media and the Guardian Social Care Professional Network  are having a positive influence on the use of sharing positive story’s of social work and social work development through the use of media.

I have never brought a survival guide to anything in Social Work and never will, and for social work students to see that they also do not need to do this either.  Some of you may realise you do not want to practise at the end of your course but those who do and are lucky enough to find work.  Do not just survive ‘Practise’ social work, be part of a developing profession and challenge other institutions views of what Social Work used to be and is today!


Today has been a weird end of a weird week, and did anybody notice how fast the week went? But it is important for me to reflect on what could be important for me.  Having been in post for two years I have been having itchy feet for some time, looking for a new experience and sometimes they just jump up out at you.

However, what has made me reflect is a colleague who has recently qualified in her social work degree.  Who has now had four interviews and been unsuccessful with each one.  Each time the feed back has been about a different topic relating to the interview process.

This will be devastating for her, and for anyone who has invested three years into studying. Sacrificing free time to read, learn and write up endless practise logs.  Each time the telephone call ends up with I am sorry sapping your energy and resolve.

Importantly the message is preparation, planning and listening.  Three key skills required for any application and interview process.  Preparation = What is the post I am applying for want? What are the skills? experiences? and look at the job specification and try and answer as much of the topics as you can [honestly] to ensure you meet the criteria to be shortlisted for the interview.

Planning = Reading (I know sorry, this will never stop!) What is the legislation that you will need to know for the role? what are the local services [do your own research] Think of some good examples of practise that can be used to answer a multitude of possible questions.  Make sure you get to the interview on time! and have time if possible to have a look around if possible, be friendly and approachable.

Finally if you do get shortlisted for an interview Listen.  Listen = Respect, good assessment skills, What is the question I am being asked to answer? Usually they are not meant to be complicated! Understand how you want to practise? what are your values? Social Work is a fast changing organisation and you will have your opportunity to be part of that change.

When you are in your interview it will be important to understand theory but it is time to show that you know how to use it in a practical way.  You have just passed a three year degree course, it is time to sell your practise that you observed and undertook on placement.  For some of us practitioners that have been around for a long time creative thinking and application of practise of Social Work students who have not had statutory experience is a good sign of how you would adapt and apply your practise.

Importantly and most difficult is trying to relax! in saying this I have to work hard to show I am enthusiastic about wanting the job as I am to laid back.  In fact just try to enjoy the interview have some banter [appropriately] and observe the behaviours of the people interviewing you and take your cues from them.

Moreover, don’t give up hope of finding the right job.  You will find it and you never know when it will jump up out at you.  But when it does learn from your experience and I wish you all the best.