Category Archives: change

Did I understand you?

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.

First job

Have you ever wondered what your first social work job would be like? I know that I did.  I remember finishing my training and having to return to work after two years of not being in the residential home.  All of the staff and the young people had changed, my views on practise had changed and my willingness to work shifts had gone out of the window.  My sleep was becoming prescious due to my two young children demanding more of my time.

I was lucky in looking for work as I live on the border of four Local Authority’s and two Unitary Authority’s.  The time it took to get work was an important factor in deciding where I wanted to work so this cut some prospects out.  I applied online with all Authority’s and then just waited to here.   I don’t mind admitting that it felt like a very long time.

It was like Christmas when the envelope finally landed on my doorstep, and it was very nearly Christmas to.  My knees shaked and my hands trembled as I opened the envelope and read its contents.   There was a hope that I could escape shift work and return to hours that meant that I could still spend quality time with my own family.  By this time I had slotted back into working in my old job and I knew it was going to be hard saying good bye to the  people that I had worked with for 8 years.  I also knew that I was becoming to comfortable in that Job and if I did not move on I never would.

I should say that the interview process scared me, it had been nearly 8 years since my last interview.  Then to see that I had a whole day’s worth of interviewing, with testing, group work exercises and interviews did worry me.

However, I was pleased when I finished the process feeling confident.  I was even more pleased when I was accepted in post, I think I was so excited that I told the business support worker I was speaking with that I loved them! (probably at that time I did, I was so pleased).  Especially as it meant my journey time to work was going to be reduced, and there was an added bonus of parking something that was very essential for me.

As a nearly qualified social worker I did not have to worry whether I was going to be a social worker in a child protection team or a Looked after team or even a child in need team.  The reason, it was still a generic team covering all fields.  Meaning I could develop my weaknesses as I gained in experience.

Social Work is never that easy, you must know that? A week in the job and I am told that we would all be going through “Growth and Change”.  It was to quick for me to decide, which team I wanted to work in with little experience in Child Protection and all of my previous experience in LAC I did not want to specialise to early.  So I went with Child Protection, wanting to work with a much younger age group than I had previously worked with.

Child Protection was a daunting experience to head towards as a newly qualified social worker.  When I started it was like a whole different world, I did not know anyone in the office, I did not know the area I was working in.  I had only been there twice before once for the interview and once shopping on  a bus!

However, for me it did not become that scary or daunting.  The home visits, the core group meetings, and Child Protection conferences became a positive challenge to achieve positive change for families.  Sometimes when the risk became to high the court process was initiated, but even this did not worry me as I worked in an open and honest fashion.  Although giving evidence is never easy and with your heart pumping you can understand how the people you work with may feel, when seeing me at their doorstep.

Would I change the path that I have gone down? No! Child Protection has given me a good understanding or risk, understanding working together in its truest form.  I understand how precious life is and fragile it can be when a referral is made.  I have learnt how hard some people struggle to break out and change everything they know.  Especially when they lack the support from their own friends and family.  Something I have always taken for granted in my own life.

Alot has changed since my first day, I now know everyone and everyone knows me.  I know the community and how the different groups interact.  I know most of the professionals and joint working has become easier.  The only thing that has not changed is the love of the job and the challenges and support that children and their families need has not.