Category Archives: pressure

A crazy week……….?

Wow, its one of those weeks again! well almost every week is now becoming one of those weeks.  Its like working in a pressure cooker and waiting for the perfect meal at the end of the week and instead you wait and wait and there is no end.  Every Social Worker I have supervised this week I have heard the same problems, difficulties and guilt that they are not able to keep up.

Social Work is not a job where a decision can be made with no thought, or where plans can be created without assessments, or an incident takes place and need recording, and recording and just to ensure everything is done properly recorded again.  Yes sometimes up to three times!  I wonder sometimes why I did the training? but I know why – despite this it is still a great job, the rewards are not few and far between and every now and again you hear of a young person who has left University and achieved well.  Or for others it is managing their own tenancy and not needing 24/7 support.

If I was asked to explain why there seems to be so much work I would have to argue that there is several reasons for this.  The first is easy, with all of the budget cuts the pressure is on every worker to be creative with the service we offer.  Finding solutions, supporting young people where other services have been cut, roles have been cut.  The other reason is the massive change in the guidance to the Children Act this year – great timing!

To make it harder every day the impact of the cuts digs deeper with vital posts have been cut or experienced staff’s contracts are not renewed in order to find a cheaper replacement.  Or colleagues who have their jobs under threat, worried about whether they will still have a job.

I guess what makes it more exciting is the hot desking and the sudden outbreak of sickness! just what you want in a tight small working environment, that and the questions you have to ask about the cleanliness of some people!

I hope some sense can be found, failing that a little bit of logic! okay well maybe failing both of these I wonder whether calm can be found in the office.

Harder to reach

Just when you thought it was safe to practise social work again after the latest scandal and in depth report.  The local safeguarding board produces its latest policies.  These are great and actually really useful, except there is a common theme them running through them all.  “Serious Case Management” or “Serious Risk Meetings” or “Management of Serious risk”.  All meetings that involve everyone within the council to analyse, reflect and examine everything that you have done, and then suggest something different.  Sometimes this can be useful, and for some cases very definitely needed.  Especially around the transition period from child to adult, when the threshold for a service suddenly rises leaving many young people with the bare minimum of support from their aftercare service.


Working with looked after Children aged between 14 to 18 years of age is not always easy for many reasons.  The latest guidance produced is ‘working with children that are harder to reach’.  Interestingly enough it suggests that many young people are harder to reach because they do not see their social worker enough!!  However, its answer to this problem is to arrange a senior managers meeting taking you further away from the young person.  Rather than allowing you more time with face to face contact allowing you to practise social work.


Today I spent most of the morning talking with one of my social workers.  Sophie (not her real name) Sophie was sharing her frustration and feelings about the current pressures of her work affecting her health.  “Its not the work Sophie talks about, its the increased reporting, longer pathway planning, computer systems creating duplication.  Statutory visits that now consist of questionnaires, and information gathering, in order for the Local Authority to keep an eye and evidence on what it is doing.


I would argue that this is the reason why many of the young people we work with are becoming harder to reach.  Losing confidence in the work we do with them because they can not see the benefit, as every visit is about information and not about them, losing the child focus and does not relate to them directly.


I like the idea that Munro gives of one continuous assessment, as long as it is accepted by everyone as a the basis for any information they receive.  This way systems could be developed that enable better communication, and perhaps even indirectly through different applications that enables the information needed to be gained in a less intrusive fashion allowing social work to be developed with the young person.


Instead at present we have the daily dilemmas of which fire to put out, balanced with the paperwork required.  Thankfully not in triplicate but still the working together document will look like a pamphlet compared to the number of people you have to remember to send all of the different information to.


Meanwhile Sophie is left frustrated and torn between the job she enjoys and the frustration of a system that is far from child friendly at times.  Hoping that the positive visits will out way all of the negative meetings, that the small progress seen are greater than the massive set backs seen on a daily basis.

Frazzled

Have you ever had a day where you have tried to get into the office early to get a head start on the work you have to do.  Even if it is ten minutes to read through the mountains of e-mails that seem to be sent from the time you leave the office until the following morning when you get back in.  The pressure and expectations placed on us as Social Workers is for perfect work to be completed all of the time.  I understand why, because if the plan is not perfect, you will have to redo the work over again.  And in a day where every minute is precious, every visit a report and every telephone call creating two new jobs.  This causes delay in completing actions for the Young People Social Workers are working with.
Some mornings like this morning, even those ten minutes of catch up time don’t happen.  As soon as the computer has loaded up (and with the added security this is not a fast process), the first call came in, our local Missing Persons Officer who has been on leave wanted to ensure I was aware of the high risk case who had self harmed and “What was I going to do about it?”
It was a clue as to how the day was going to follow; I was pleased to find out that this was old information.  I was even more pleased to find out that the worst thing that had happened this weekend had been a bad case of sun burn I could live with this.  However, I was quickly finding out that both the Community Mental Health team and another Community Team for Adult Services were unable to attend a Management meeting to look at the transfer of this case from Children Services to Adult Services.  A smooth transfer would be preferable to ensure the continued well being of this Young Person, but instead with three weeks until her 18th birthday I fear this is going to be a fight for a service right up until her birthday.
There is an advantage with getting as many professionals around a table to formulate the plan.  Looking at what needs to be achieved and what the Young Persons wants to achieve from their life with the people who are able to help and support this plan is essential.
I was pleased however, that I was not the only one.  My Manager Slips in that on top of the ever growing number of placement break downs, Young People who have been missing (and considering the unusual hot weather, could have been higher).  That again there has been a new challenge one for an age assessment.
In a time where Public Service cuts, and pressures on Social Work teams to ensure savings made do not impact too much on the front line services our argument for another Social Worker continues.  Days like this can leave me feeling frazzled and the pressure to absorb cases from other frontline teams means that other Social Workers also feeling frazzled.  Every spare minute quickly becomes precious and fewer and far between and often at the sacrifice of something else.