Tag Archives: GSCC

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!

Continuing Professional Development

For me it is the time of the year when I am asked to complete my appraisal and the appraisals of my staff.  Which, is interesting as this week I have also attended my wife’s graduation ceremony in social work.  In the back of my mind as I watched her shake hands with the Dean and collect her certificate, I wondered about my own development and social work development in general.  Or as I should call it ‘continuing professional development’.

So in 2007 when the social work degree was introduced it was aimed to ensure that more credibility was given to the professionalism and training of social workers.  Which, once completed included an element of continuing professional development requirements of 90 hours from the General Social Care Council and a framework for a post qualifying award.

As a practitioner I recognise that there is a need to continue with your learning, developing your experience and being able to stand up and argue that you are an ‘Expert’ in the field of social work that you practise in.  It made me chuckle and the statement is true that I heard in the guest speech at the Graduation ceremony  “You usually find experience 20 minutes after you needed it!”.

As we approach an era with a new professional body with the Health Professional Council ‘social work’ continues to look for an association that will raise its profile and provide regulation that demands some respect through its regulation.

So the Health Professional Council define continuing professional development as:

‘a range of learning activities through which health professionals maintain and develop throughout their career to ensure that they retain their capacity to practice safely, effectively and legally within their evolving scope of practice’ HPC

As professional workers it is important to maintain a record of our development, it is not necessary to submit every year with the HPC but may be required if audited.

What strikes me first with the definition of continuous professional development is the statement ‘retain their capacity to practise safely’.  An essential line that covers ultimately everything about social work, especially for those who are the public that we work with.  When faced with a decision that requires a complex risk assessment, can you make the right decision to safeguard and protect the person you work with?

With the specialist award for children and young people being phased out with the General Social Care Council the current assessed work based programme has gone.  Whilst more academic courses remain available in some interesting social science subjects these remain the personal responsibility of the worker to fund and complete in their own time.

It is important then that perhaps I reflect upon the past couple of years and the sacrifice required to complete the degree in social work and whether after this time, will social workers want to continue with a formal learning environment? Or should other methods be explored?

E-Learning is a popular method and for subjects such as using the systems and legislation changes this is a great method of learning.  I have found its drawbacks however, make it less appealing to me, and with the priority of the work will always be pushed to the bottom of the pile of work that is needed.

Reading is another great way of continuing your development and would further be helpful if social workers were to be provided with a generic system that could enable books to be stored electronically and accessed quickly including the volumes of guidance for the Children Act.

But learning only happens through real practise and understanding, reading a book may prepare you for understanding challenging behaviour.  But, until you have experienced first hand crisis, fear and aggressive behaviour or your first disclosure the look of shock can prevent the then essential engagement.

However, it is not right to always throw someone into this situation without some experience being shared.  Certainly I have mentioned before the need for better training and understanding around the area of assessments.  Therefore if you have sufficiently experienced social workers who can motivate and encourage good practise then their experience can be shared to enable others to learn and be recorded for their continuing professional development.

How would you like your continuing professional development to look? and how would you like to continue with your learning? maybe worth a thought and checking with your employer as to how it will be delivered where you work!

Post Qualifying Learning

As a qualified social worker its easy to get caught up in the work, easy to become bogged down in assessments, crisis and supporting families and other workers.  But sometimes what it is not so easy to do is to look at your own training needs.  Thankfully as a Children’s social worker there is plenty of training available and funding for the in training and safeguarding conferences.

However, as I attended University this week I learn that the specialist training award is being stopped.  I have to admit that this was not really a surprise.  As the Social Work Reform Board have made clear recommendations in order to improve the outcomes for children, families and also to ensure the profession is able to practise safely and confidently.

Confidently is the key word, Courts are wanting deadlines and delay to be slashed and in order to do this social workers must be allowed to complete accurate and in depth assessments, which will stand up to challenge in court and demonstrate experience and knowledge in the subject.

As a social worker it seems that where ever I go the people I meet want to tell me their story.  This is a good skill when it at work, but when at home it makes me cringe when I hear of stories of poor social work practise. And in most cases it usually involved a lack of cultural understanding at all levels and a lack of probing into what really is going on.  Of course, when hearing these stories my own little alarm bell goes as I only hear one side of the story further reinforcing the obvious danger of relying on limited information.

So hearing the training was going to stop I was excited that there would be some exciting new training that would further develop my learning and understanding.  Instead I was greeted with a wall of confusion and uncertainty.  There maybe in house training provided or there maybe a masters in practise teaching or even other modules being designed and offered by the University.

Leaving me wondering what this new post qualifying training will look like, and if it is in house will it be provided by social workers who no longer want to practise and hold negative views about the system they have been working in for so long.