To ask what people think a social worker's job role is?

(423 Posts)
filee777 Sat 28-Sep-13 16:06:45

I am intrigued. I know this is in AIBU and its not really that sort of question but I want diverse and interesting opinions.

So what do you think a social worker does? What do you think a social work should do?

drudgetrudy Sun 27-Apr-14 17:23:46

This is a really weird thread. Someone asks what people think is the role of a Social Worker and all this ensues!
I worked as a Social Worker from 1975 until last year, initially in several different settings and then for a very long period in Child and Adolescent Mental Health. Obviously there were multiple changes over that period and Social Workers work in a variety of settings but there is a common basis to the role. Basically Social Workers are there to support and protect the most vulnerable in society. They work with individuals, families and other agencies (police, schools, health services,etc etc) to help achieve. >
the best possible quality of life for their clients.
They have legal duties to ensure that basic minimum standard of care are upheld and , if this can't be achieved through co-operation they can invoke legal powers eg Mental Health Act, bringing Child protection cases to court etc. They are advised on this by local authority solicitors and these decisions are usually taken when they have convened multi-discipinary case conferences and have opinion and evidence from doctors, nurses, teachers , police health visitors and others.
My last role was in a multi-disciplinary team.
I have met wonderful committed hard working social workers. I have also met arrogant power-crazed social workers. I have met a few lazy social workers. BUT same can be said for the community psychiatric nurses whose role was very similar, some dedicated and wonderful, some prejudiced fools. Even the consultant psychiatrists, one a dedicated man worthy of sainthood, one an arrogant fool who I privately hold responsible for at least two tragic outcomes if not more. (My own opinions obviously).
It does seem to be the social workers who get most flack.
Re salary. Yes Social Workers start off on better pay than nurses but by the time the nurses are CPNs , health visitors etc working in the community they are often paid more than the social workers (given that neither have management role).
My role changed from working as a LA social worker to working for the NHS, my salary increased and my responsibilty was reduced.
Re governing body-what a fuss about nothing-I remembered who they were every three years when I paid for the privilege of re-registering. I would have remembered pdq if someone had reported me to them. Otherwise I was more concerned with keeping up with research and legal changes that would benefit clients.
Some days I got a decent lunch break with colleagues, some days I hadn't got time to pee as I was dealing with three urgent situations and three sets of crying, angry distressed people ( one serious attempted suicide, one disclosure of serious abuse and one parent who had made a suicide pact with her teenager and barricaded them both in the house for example). not much time for Costa coffee on a day like that.
Personally I think child protection should be a separate profession with extremely rigorous entry requirements on a parr with medicine and much more rigorous training. Off the soap box now- could write a book. The young know-all types on the course will soon either leave or settle down. A few will persevere and become the worst type of opinionated ,ill-informed social worker

ginorwine Sun 27-Apr-14 12:37:31

Facebook yes we do sign post the moresime tasks - this is because we are instructed to do statutory work .this tends to e the more comes work often with attention to national and legal frameworks .we do of make these decisions - we act on I struction from politicians and council leaders - it is not our choosing

ginorwine Sun 27-Apr-14 12:31:57

I love make up and the fallen: I am a sw - I am in no way work shy. I work ten to 12 additional hours per week in my own time to get the best outcome for people and regularly go into work on Sunday evening to catch up onpaperwork which is essential to keep care in situ.i read in my own time
Re legal stuff I must know.how is that work shy?
I also treat each person as well as if they were my own family.

Swanlake123 Sun 27-Apr-14 11:28:01

My DH has worked within this industry for many many years, starting off as a support worker, pastoral care, family and child liaison and is now an educational pyschologist. He has dealt with social workers on many different levels and in different situations and different companies/institutions and his generalised opinion is that they are all useless and let everyone down, not only who they are working alongside but more importantly the people they are supposed to be helping

MarieSchrader Sun 27-Apr-14 10:35:35

Pressed post too soon. N/C or left.

MarieSchrader Sun 27-Apr-14 10:28:24

Zombie thread. Filee has name changed.

OurMiracle1106 Sun 27-Apr-14 10:21:25

To put their clients best interests forward and get them whatever help or support they need or is needed for those around them.
They can do this is a variety of ways. By doing assessments of needs, providing visits to support and check on progress and referring or signposting to other services in the area and helping them access them if needed. They can also go to court with/on the persons behalf.

Katrose Sun 27-Apr-14 10:16:49

Filee- have you changed your mind about social work since starting this thread? I'm curious smile

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 30-Sep-13 00:31:52

I think that a SW's job is to ensure that those in their caseload have what the government deem to be necessary for survival.

It was the only degree I felt drawn to as a school leaver. And it would be my nightmare job. I'm so glad my family put me off doing it.

Twinkleandbunty Mon 30-Sep-13 00:24:23

Having worked along side many SWs both in social care and in hospitals (I'm an OT) I agree that as with all professions there are excellent, good, bad and indifferent.

I have known a SW clean the house of an elderly lady by herself over a weekend so that she could be discharged home safely.

My best friend is a hospital SW working with vulnerable adults, and although she is usually exhausted, challenged and occasionally horrified by what she deals with every day, she still does a fantastic job under increasingly difficult circumstances.

OP, I have read this thread with interest, and initially thought some posters were being a bit hard on you, but please reflect on what has been said.
Defensiveness and a lack of self-awareness will not help and may make your placements very difficult.
However, you are very tenacious and as another poster said, that could also stand you in good stead!

Good luck with your studies.

wewillmendit Mon 30-Sep-13 00:06:39

filee, I haven't read the whole thread, but get the gist.
As a social work student, you are in a position to shape your future career to some extent by considering carefully your placements.
I am a social worker in an adults team. I am lucky enough to work with a diverse group of clients. Yes, my caseload is high, but my priority is the safety of my clients.

filee, if I can help you anymore then please do PM me.

LRDMaguliYaPomochTebeSRaboti Sun 29-Sep-13 23:49:15

Sorry, only read the OP and first couple of posts as it's long - but I wanted to ask, do you get taught how to explain what a social worker does? Because I had a vague idea of it but even when I came into contact with social workers as a child, they never actually explained what their job was or what they were there to do. I don't know if there was a reason for that or if it was assumed it was obvious?

I think they're there to safeguard people, and to try to coordinate the ways vulnerable people can be looked after. I've come across brilliant ones and also total complacent idiots, but haven't seen enough to have much sense of what is typical, and I'd err on the side of assuming the complacent types were anomalies. I do think it's a common perception, though, and I wonder why.

AnaisHendricks Sun 29-Sep-13 23:40:31

But that stupid, insensitive, unprofessional idiotic woman, to use your own words, was the one who prepared the evidence that "His Honour Judge" hmm based his decision on. That matters!

Would you want someone who is all these things and semi-literate as well to build a case against you?

facebookaddictno300 Sun 29-Sep-13 23:39:26

A social workers role these days is to signpost to other agencies and not actually do anything - apparently.

Of course that woman was stupid and unprofessional to post that, and completely insensitive and basically a huge idiot. But she didn't actually espouse any view that I find objectionable. Many parents could do with a 'rollocking' from judges, removing children is a grim task and sometimes children are far, far better off in care, outcomes notwithstanding.

Canthisonebeused Sun 29-Sep-13 22:41:42

Reading that FB link is enough to leave a bad tast in anyone's mouth.

Ledkr similar team in our area is one of the toughest placements so I hear. It was enough for one person, who admittedly had lots of their own family pressures to end the placement and defere for a year.

That's great to hear Ledkr, I IME Adoption & Recruitment tend to attract, and be able to pick, good workers, given the nature of the role. You must interact with other teams (LAC, CAFCAS etc.) and workers though, have they all been as good? I have had some poor experiences with those. Less so your field. Also, had not so good experiences with Adults, again not all, but a significant sample.

Ledkr Sun 29-Sep-13 21:54:50

flummoxed I can honestly say they have. It's a team of about 20 and we cover adoption recruitment and support, we have one lazy one but even she is client focussed and caring.
I came from another team where two were awful bastards and I reported them both! Do I know there are bad ones but we have such a good manager in my team that we have no need to be anything but brilliant and dedicated.
We are also not overloaded like some if the child protection teams though which makes a difference

AnaisHendricks Sun 29-Sep-13 21:52:06

The entire message string was printed but has been removed, as have the comments.

But it can be read here

She was very pleased that the solicitor complemented the nice nails and shoes that she and her named / linked colleague had. Bit flippant. Then writes, "of (sic) to do the massive grim task" of removing children from their parents where presumably they will have a much better future in care. Because outcomes for LAC are so good.

BrianTheMole Sun 29-Sep-13 21:36:43

Horrific thing to do though flummox. I can't begin to imagine how the parents felt reading that. A final kick in the teeth and completely unnecessary.

Oh, and as far as that link to the newspaper story, she's an idiot for posting such things on FB but apart from the word "three" there really is nothing identifying.

GoshAnneGorilla Sun 29-Sep-13 21:26:41

Pfft. Chunks of this thread look like a bog standard AIBU kicking with a herd mentality to boot.

However, the posts where people have talked about their personal experiences have been very interesting.

Ledkr, all your colleagues have the same attitude as you? I suppose I'm a bit cynical as my job means I get exposed to many Social Workers in various statutory sectors. A fair percentage of them have not been very good, in my opinion of course.

gordyslovesheep Sun 29-Sep-13 21:18:49

I think the suggestion to reflect is a really good one - reflective practice is a vital part of SW - it's good to start doing it now you have started training

think about the thread, the responses and what could have been done differently

and work on the chips x

BrianTheMole Sun 29-Sep-13 21:15:04

It is a weird thread. I'm not seeing the justification for the name calling here. Particularly as the op is only in the first week of her course confused.
Theres a lot of learning to be done, it never stops really. I found that it was only after finishing the course and actually started work as a social worker, that I actually began to truly understand what social work was all about. The course content and the actual job seemed worlds apart.
Good luck with the course op, its nice being a student as you have the time to stop and reflect on your practice. I have worked in teams where I had over 100 people on my case load. I felt like a hamster on a wheel, no time to stop and reflect in the way I would have liked to. Very exhausting, stressful and dangerous.

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