Social Care Professionals.....

(22 Posts)
catinabox Wed 17-Jul-13 19:22:49

I am a student social worker and have been placed with a small local charity.

I have had a couple of concerns whilst on placement. The first concern I raised was when the Chief Executive of the charity took a consultant and some of the staff team our for a 3 course meal including wine using the charities money. I raised a concern again when the same women agreed that her brother, ( who is not a volunteer or a paid employee) brought some laptops for the organisation, which he has been reimbursed for from the charities money, and thirdly she spent some of the organisations money (nearly £1000) on second hand equipment that belonged to an employees family member.

Another worry i had was that a child who was being looked after was taken out for the day by an employee. (legitimate work) but the employee took him to his house.

I raised all these concerns. !st concern re the meal. The manager admitted it shouldnt have happened. The other concerns I was told it was legitimate and above board and i should keep out of it.

The concern re the staff member taking child to his house i was assured had been addressed. Another social work student was then told she could take the child out for the day with her own son and mother to go to a community event that the charity were attending. I suggested gently to the other stuednt that this was a bit inappropriate and suggested that she rethink this as professional boundary was being breached.

I had an exit interview today. Wa asked to sign something to say that all my concerns had been addressed and reslved. I said that i wasn't happy to do that. My supervisor said that I had upset the other student and that I shouldnt make assumptions that the financial things are dodgy.

I actually really like the team of people i have been working with and just feel that the bad practice is due to the manager that is getting her brother very involved with the charity. I gently tried to mention that i have raised worries about the charity with my university.

I am wondering whether my concers are over the top and i have over reacted. I don't feel i have but would hate for an investigation to take place and the outcome be that i have overreacted.

What i would hate even more is the thought that this kind of practice is not dealt with severely. Surely it is wrong? I'd like a balanced view please because I know i can be vvery idealistic an have very very high standards.

happygolucky0 Wed 17-Jul-13 19:37:04

Do they have a head office? If you don't feel that they have addressed your concerns then take it higher. Is there not policies available to read concerning codes of conduct. I am not a expert but that's what I would do if I felt strongly about issues at work.

MsHighwater Wed 17-Jul-13 19:37:48

What response did you get from the Uni when you raised it with them?
If you have concerns, it is imperative that you raise them. If nothing else, if it is looked into and found to be legitimate, there is a learning opportunity for you in that. It is a skill you will use in your career.
Your supervisor should have been able to explain to you why things were, in her view, OK.

hatgirl Wed 17-Jul-13 20:03:08

Get your final report signed off ASAP and then tell the university everything.

What are the charity's whistleblowing policies? Have a good look at them and follow them to the letter.

You can also complain to the charity commission.

Is your practice educator a social worker?

Babycino81 Wed 17-Jul-13 20:09:16

This is totally inappropriate and a complete conflict of interests, especially a member of staff taking a child to their home.

Report this to organisations head office, offsets and the local authority as they have a duty to investigate these concerns and ask to speak to Lado co or donator ASAP.

I've been in a similar situ an don't rely on your Uni; unfortunately placements are in short supply and your Uni have no authority to check these changes have been addressed and made.

Lastly but most importantly. Contact the HCPC immediately.

Good luck!

Babycino81 Wed 17-Jul-13 20:09:44

Offsets should have been ofsted!!!

hatgirl Wed 17-Jul-13 20:11:36

is this an interim placement or a final placement?

Either way...

don't forget to write it up in some sort of reflective (and positive) way about why it made you feel, what you did about it and what you learnt from it. If you are final placement student this will be good for your ASYE and if you are interim you can use it as evidence as how you are progressing professionally and include elements of it in your next placement application.

hatgirl Wed 17-Jul-13 20:14:27

Babycino81 the HCPC won't be interested unless any of the people involved are HCPC registered professionals.

Similarly ofsted may not be involved either depending on the way the charity is registered.

hatgirl Wed 17-Jul-13 20:15:39

I forgot to say - if they don't have whistleblowing policies in place this is another area for concern.

combinearvester Wed 17-Jul-13 20:20:24

Do you have a practice educator off-site or university tutor to help you?

catinabox Wed 17-Jul-13 21:00:40

Hi. Thanks everyone. The University have said that they are taking the concerns seriously and don't want to send any more students there unless it is resolved. I feel very supported from that perspective.

I have used some of the experience as opportunity for development and have been able to challenge the practice without it becoming personal and in a measure way. I have finished the placement, an interim not final, and overall have had good experience.

Unfortunately the charity is small and has a single place from which it operates and only employs about 6 people. It is run by a board of trustees and a management committee. The manager is accountable to the trustees.

Would love to know what other people think about this situation. I am reassured by my universities response. I feel very respected by my tutors, I just would like some perspectives.

Unfortunately i am a worrier and find t hard to feel reassured until something is resolved. I hate leaving this placement with a cloud over it as in many ways it has been very good.

hatgirl Wed 17-Jul-13 21:17:16

I think it is more common than it should be in small scale charities like the one you have described unfortunately.

Don't worry about this just chalk it up to a valuable learning experience.

Hopefully you have a statutory placement coming up which will be an entirely different experience again.

My main concern is if your practice educator was a social worker or not.... i'm hoping not!

Also - did the other student take your advice?

catinabox Wed 17-Jul-13 21:36:38

Hi, Thanks hatgirl. My external p.e was not my supervisior. No qualified staff employed at the setting. (not sw anyway)

Yes, i think you might be right. I just don't think it's o.k to accept it and people should be accountable? Idealistc perhaps.

No the other student didn't take my advice. She went ahead and took the child to the event. She has also brought her son into the centre for play dates with the child who uses the centre.

I'm looking forward to the statutory placement next year!

hatgirl Wed 17-Jul-13 21:57:22

I'm an onsite p.e social worker in a statutory adults team and consistently have had horror stories about previous voluntary placements from all my students who come and do their final placement with me.

Some recognised it was wrong at the time (some have challenged like you, others haven't felt able to which I understand as you are very vulnerable as a student), others didn't realise how wrong it was until they did a statutory placement and faced the stark reality of professional boundaries, confidentiality and social work values.

Well done, you are well ahead of many of your fellow students. If you carry on like this are going to make an excellent social worker and are the type of person the profession needs.

However,

I'm not so concerned about the other student taking their child to the event, presumably it was a public event and therefore open to all? It is not acceptable however for her to have play dates with children at the centre. I think you need to discuss this with your P.E and ask advice about what to do about this as it really is a professional boundaries issue.

I'm glad the university is taking it seriously. Many wouldn't.

catinabox Wed 17-Jul-13 22:07:28

Thanks Hatgirl. I'll do that.

So even if its not completely appropriate, it's not too awful for a SSW to take her mother, son and a child who uses the service to a public event together. Collecting the child from his foster carers home on the way? Sorry to ask. I'm just finding it hard to find a balanced perspective.

Thanks for the encouragement too.

hatgirl Wed 17-Jul-13 22:20:16

its borderline.

I am uncomfortable with it but essentially if it meant that the child had a good day out and there were clear boundaries that it was a SSW being kind, caring and offering support to get to an event and there is no suggestion that this is anything other than a professional relationship then I suppose it is ok as a one off. Oddly, I would strongly advise qualified social work colleagues not to put themselves in that situation, but feel student SWs have a bit more flexibility. I think its one of those things that if you don't naturally have clear boundaries then you have to learn what its like to get a bit too involved with a service user before you understand why you can't do that.

No issue whatsoever technically with the SSW taking her child and mother to a public event, although I personally wouldn't choose to do this as I prefer to keep my family life separate to work.

catinabox Wed 17-Jul-13 22:25:28

Great. Thanks hatgirl. Appreciated. I feel a lot happier about my thinking now!

Babycino81 Wed 17-Jul-13 23:46:06

The HCPC are also responsible for regulating placements so they have got a duty to ensure it is a responsible placement for a sw student.

hatgirl Thu 18-Jul-13 00:01:35

babychino can you please post a link to where in the HCPC guidelines you have got that information from?

To the best of my knowledge the HCPC have no involvement whatsoever in regulating student social work placements, or any duty whatsoever towards student social workers other than ensuring that the university has followed procedures correctly if a complaint is made about a student (and even that is only temporary)

Happy to be corrected though.

The College of Social Work (TCSW) on the other hand have put some guidelines in place regarding student placements.

I am a sw. I think you have been v strong and all your concerns were valid. I was especially bothered by the blurred boundaries of the student family/service user event thing. I would also strongly advise colleagues not to do this. It will be a good incident to reflect on. Your instincts were right but consider why you feel that way - if it were me I would be thinking about professional distance and also how it impacts on ending the piece if work with that child/su. For example; I work with young children and have two if my own. I know my oldest dd would get on brilliantly with some of my service users. If I took her to meet them and they played together, became friends or whatever this would be ok for the present but unfair and difficult when this work ended or the family are assigned to a different worker/service. Especially with young children you need to keep in the back of your mind that this relationship (however strong) with you will end for that child and its your responsibility to protect them as best you can. It's v hard sometimes is love to just take my service users home for tea sometimes!

You can also write about collusion which is what went on within the charity. I recall now when I was studying how strongly I felt about ethical practice and how sharp my mind felt about identifying things that were wrong that way.
It's a shame the placement was so dodgy. My charity placement was obsessed with good practice - more so than my statutory one!

catinabox Fri 19-Jul-13 11:45:34

Hi hamwidge thanks for the reply. These are my feelings too. I really think as well that the student ought to be prepared for the realities of practice. Professionalism and being clear about your role is really important because the work we will be doing involves human emotion. If lines are blurred it is surely not possible for the worker to be as effective and make clear decisions.

It is also important to take the child's feelings into account and the reality that they will be quite unlikely to have continuity of worker.

I feel like my attitude is a bit un compassionate and slightly un-human actually but really feel that there needs to be a foundation of having v.clear boundaries. It's a hard enough job anyway. There is also the issue of safeguarding and without proper boundaries and procedures in place, children could put in situations where they are at risk. Poor boundaries are often a feature of abuse and having very clear boundaries with a child who has been in an abusive situation offers safety and security.

I have worked in social care for quite a few years and would have loved to do more with some of the young people i worked with. I would have like to bring some of my case load home for tea and a few times i got consent to see them on their birthdays when they literally had no-one else. One or two of them i still think about and would love to take them for tea and see how they are doing. But i can't. It's not my job.

You are spot on with everything op - you will have some great material for your portfolio etc. it's non inhuman at all quite the opposite it's about protecting the feelings of your su as much as you can. Creating a dependent relationship is no help either.

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