Like many other social workers I have waited patiently to see what changes may come from the numerous serious case reviews that have been in the press over the past five years. The Munro Review challenged the heart of current social work practise and challenged the Government and local Authoritys to make those changes so deseparetly needed.
However for a long period of time there was almost a stale mate in whether these changes could be made. Can social workers go about their profession with the experience and competence needed to deliever a service that will safeguard children.
Slowly, and very slowly even social workers wanted a change in their practise. Long hours, poor computer systems, poor supervision with limited budgets and change being evidenced slowly was a not an inspiring career to be in, with many social workers looking for career changes.
Sadly though all of the talking and wanting change the only real change that came was that of the image of social work further damaged from the media pushing for change and the number of children being failed by ALL services.
So it is easy to see why it is not the process that need to change but the quality of social work instead, and promoting a positive image of social work. Supervision has always been the forum in which social work practise has been able to be discussed between a manager and the social worker; where the fears and theory’s can be tested, either formally or informally. This has been developed in to a reflective practise supervision allowing one persons knowledge to be shared into a teams knowledge. Ensuring that the issues within family’s are known by all workers giving the family a larger pool of social workers to talk with. It also means that the experience and knowledge of all social workers can be shared helping develop the experience of all of the workers within the Pod/team.
But despite all the changes, and the change of thinking within social work there is no escape from the long hours, the pressure of ensuring safeguards are in place, the fear of ‘have I done enough?’ never goes. The dream of having a low case load so that more direct work can be completed with the family remains a dream.
There are no escapes from the hardships in which the communities we live and work in continue to become worrying with housing, low incomes unemployment bringing more domestic abuse, more substance misuse.
Group or Pod Supervision enables workers to hear and learn about families that live within these communities and enables pictures to be gained of the impact each family may have upon each other. Enabling the social workers to explore through their practise how they can make effective changes by understanding the communities in which they work in.
Having made a change to this type of supervision I have enjoyed the change in supervision style and enjoyed exploring the wider support network that may be already available to the families. Although this has been a small change in practise and one of many that has been required, I have seen a positive change in how a team can support each other. Visits becoming more focused and consistent within the team, families become more relaxed with the workers that visit.
Although social work practise does still require further changes, these should not be done in isolation of our partner agency’s to ensure that safeguarding does remain the responsibility of all agency’s not just social work.