Tag Archives: Long hours

Gathering the data

Time is really running short now with just under four weeks left to gather my data and analysis what I have found in a meaningful way to write up in just 8000 words!

I have not been sitting in a blind panic since I last wrote about my research, and the danger of this project is that it is in addition to my day to day work.  The result is as can be expected that with the end of one financial year that I have had to complete the performance appraisals with the social workers that I supervise.  I have had to manage long term absence and balance the needs of the young people.  Which meant putting more pressure on the social workers who were in the office, and in turn give more support to ensure that they did not have their own meltdown’s and go off sick.

All in all a difficult time of the year with the social workers I supervise walking around in a mild panic about how I will review their year.  And along in my own head, I have all the thoughts about my own research that I jot down and stash away.

However, when planning my data gathering I was allowed to be convinced that recording the interview will allow me to capture more information and be more focused and approachable during the interview.  Great! that is exactly what I want more participation and therefore more honest answers to the questions I was going to ask.

What was I doing? this is a small piece of research for my post qualifying award in social work. Some people will know that when I sat down on saturday to type up the recordings that this was a painfully slow process.  What was one hour recording took up the better part of the whole day to stop – start play, pause and record.  Never mind the fear that I had that I might hit the delete button and lose the lot! Do not get me wrong it was so tempting and the delete button was the biggest button on my rather useful iPhone that I used to record the interview with.

Also the child in me was so tempted just to hit the big red button! 

And after six hours I was very tempted!

However, some sound advice was given to me – and the logic was like waking up fresh.  What was I looking for and what was the purpose? The recordings did not just give me an accurate understanding of the interview but a real chance to listen to what was being said.  Something, that I might have missed if I had just been reading the words.

Although verbal communication is a small part of how we communicate, the way the answer were delivered gave an added extra meaning that could have been lost if I had written it down.

So what was I looking for? what were the patterns and themes that were being discussed and shared with me.  After playing the interviews through several times these started to jump out of the sounds and in to defined groups.

So with my recordings made easier, I was given the next bit of advice, remember to keep a few sentences for quotes to be used in the research project.  Simple advice that may appear obvious, unless you have just spent a long time breaking your back painfully making accurate transcripts of your interview.  I would recommend if you choose to do this to ensure you have plenty of coffee and a comfortable chair.

I still have one interview to gain and then I will be able to start meaningfully writing up my research project.  What I have learnt so far has been incredible about the amount of preparation needed and why your methodology is so important.

I will continue and hope that others will want to do this.  Do not be put off and the learning from exploring a subject you enjoy enhances your social work practise and also provides a better service for the people you are working with.

Long week

Is it possible to keep positive in social work at present after the amount of cuts that have already been made and the level of cuts that have not yet come?  For me the answer has to be yes, why? in my second student social work placement in the youth service, I was taught that there is no money for projects so there was a clear message that was all about participation of young people.

Participation was providing a service that the young people wanted rather than what you thought they needed.  The result was more young people involved in the group work sessions.  The budget was zero, so resources had to be begged, borrowed or applied for cleverly from different charities and again required the participation of the young people to make the applications.

I think for me this helped me learn to have a more positive attitude and outlook to social work.  My thinking became three dimensional and enabled me to be a more holistic practitioner.

However, this week I have observed within the office that several workers did not share my own positive attitude.  Something that is becoming more obvious within the work place and one that is not welcome.

I guess the recent changes to their working environment, and increased pressures on budgets have changed their views and perceptions.  Social work is already hard enough, so to lose the passion and spirit needed to challenge the system is worrying.  Especially as we have a lot of students working and learning on the same floor.  Even returning newly qualified social workers need to be in a positive learning and environment so that their own practise can develop.

It is also important to stay positive in order to ensure that communication between worker and manager is done effectively.  Without this, a mistake could happen and as a result of this increased confrontation, which is not needed further creating a negative environment to work in.

However, positive change is needed for social work to inspirer workers who are losing their passion, worrying about their jobs and worrying about the service that is being provided.  Votes are easy to get on a promise, lives are hard to influence without positive workers to do it.