What is a social work? “Social work is a profession which promotes social change and problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance wellbeing. Utilizing theories of human behaviour and social systems, social work intervenes at the point where people interact with their environments. Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work”. (Understanding Social work, Neil Thompson, 2005, page 13, 2nd Edition)
Social work is recognized as a specialist profession with a sustainable universal value, expertise and knowledge foundation. Over many years the social work services have provided these facilities to vulnerable individuals which have then enabled the success of future generations, turning threatened dysfunctional members of society into well balanced, functional happy people. Social workers also have a fundamental role in working with individuals, assisting them in taking more control of their lives only where it is tangible and suitable.
A social worker today, should be ideally confident, competent, hard working professionals, working closely in with the service user, linked workers and other involved professionals, to help the service users achieve their goals in their lives. The main responsibility of the social worker is to protect the welfare and wellbeing of children and vulnerable adults and mental health service users in the communities. A social worker must therefore adapt a holistic approach, which means to fully understand and be aware of entire history and situation of the potential service user/families.
Developing an effective strategic method in helping relationship with the service users, is extremely paramount to the role, for a better result. A Social worker must also understand and practice the effect of working to target time, incorporate applied knowledge of the situation, skills, value and also display empathy, UPR (Unconditional Positive regards), Congruence skills, listening skills, and finally, patience and sensitivity to engaging their service users.
However; when criticized the position of a Social Worker, one can argument that the ability to form, achieve and maintain such relationships with clients, can be deteriorated by a high volume of workload, which in-turn reduces field resources and create over management of risk-taking. It also increases the service users and public’s expectations, especially those/service users who benefits and achieves their goals from using the Social Service. One of the main excuses or reasons, used by social workers, when they fail an individual or child, is that their work load is just too much.
They claim that due to a high workload, they don’t get the time to get out of the office to make routine visits to their service user that desperately needs them. Social workers, work closely with other professional organizations, such as schools, NHS, police and the probation service etc. However; even though social workers work closely alongside these organizations, in some cases, there have been times, that they’ve experienced communication displacement. Some of the linked workers are not fully aware nor understand the legislation and the rules which govern the role of a social worker.
With this; comes ignorance and an intolerance as an opinion towards the social workers from some of these other departments. Therefore it’s inevitable and paramount that communicating effectively, is the key to this confusion between professions, which could eradicated the current communication problems quite quickly with the correct methods. Social workers generally specialize in one of two roles within the social services, Adult services and Children & Young persons services.
Within both roles, a Social Worker has to have great ability to work with individuals, children, families, adults with mental illnesses, carers, groups and communities to assess their needs and circumstances. Social Workers should have to be able to demonstrate the roles requirement skills, listed above in Social Worker’s roles. If the social worker is unable to do this then the results can be detrimental to the service user/s and the social worker. They also have the task of providing services to meet established needs or to alleviate dangerous or inadequate circumstances and ensuring that they have done so, correctly.
They also have to ensure that they have not falsely accused someone or assessed a case or further more even provided the wrong/incorrect service. They also have to provide reports to the Justice System (The Court), to help in ascertaining the most useful outcome. In some circumstances during their career, a Social Workers will have to investigate high risk level families that have an open case against them, as part of their case files. Once a court order has been granted, the Social worker then has the power and the duty to intervene and remove the child.
One would then believe that the child is safe, secure and away from the abuse and neglect he suffered. However; the Social workers aspiration is to, in some cases reconcile the family and to keep the child in the family home. The society can not understand some of the methods that are used by the Social workers and this particular method highlighted above is one that cannot be comprehended by many. This then leaves the Social worker open to more criticism, as this method of putting the child back into the family home, collides with the Social Worker’s role and function.
Which then begs the question of why they would place a child back into the same environment that he or she was taken out of. However; a Social Worker’s role, is not to dismantle the family, but to maintain help and support in dealing with the individual issues and case, against the parties involved? This often leaves public and communities with a negative view of their position. Social workers continuously administer the twin roles of care and control in unloading their obligations in a diverse and compounded environment, whilst assessing arising issues with both new and old case families that are very much against their policies.
This means there has to be very strong case evidence and a very good understanding, of which action and approach to take. This is also reflected between their key roles of caring for and controlling the service users, which in turn influences service users and the general public into a negative opinion of them. The service user will also need to understand the entanglement of balancing the two roles of care and control. So; how can one begin to educate individuals and public about this entanglement? It’s not society’s responsibility to educate themselves on the red tape or rules of the social services.
If we are to look at control, it’s being highlighted that some social workers do not show compassion for their service users, whilst the majority do. It is true to say that, those that don’t show any compassion, are unable relate and would base their decision unethically. This in turn reflect those non compassionate social workers’ focuses more on social control, than on the individuals service user/case. They are often affiliated with giving an impression that they have a duty to carry out, in protecting the vulnerable and innocents, by following the their legislation & regulation.
Whilst doing so; they forget that the service users are human that wants to be treated humanly. It is clear that many Social Worker falls into this predicament, however; many other are able to deal, maintain and produce fantastic result in various methods used to assist service users and case files. “What has to be recognized, is that social workers are in positions of power and that power can be used positively and constructively to help people gain greater control over their lives. ( Understanding social work, Neil Thompson, 2005, page 4, 2nd Edition) “Social workers are in positions of power”, this is quite an effective quote to describe one of the functions of the social workers. Seeing as; the Social service have displayed both positive and negative results, there have being some high level, serious cases, which has shown many children that have been failed by social services and as a result have lost their lives. Baby P and Victoria Climbie are just two children to mention that were under the care and supervision of Haringey Council.
Due to the statutory legislation of the social services and confusion of power and duties both children lost their lives. This clearly shows that authority wasn’t used positively or constructively and displayed that the status of legislation within the social services, is exceptionally contradictory one. Due to these two real life stories, society has a very negative outlook on social workers, properly more so now than in previous years. One could say they believe social workers take action too quickly and don’t do enough investigating, when it comes to the more complex and dangerous situations.
On a whole it could be stated that more effective, thorough, civilised and dated techniques and assessments should be injected into the way social workers carry out their duties. Power given to a social worker will enable them, to undertake certain steps. For example; a particular legal acts, allows the Social Service to take an immediate action, whilst on the other side, it’s within the duties to carry out some action. This can and often deflect the right approach or make the wrong judgement to case file or service user, which in some cases, have being a great issue within the epartment. Therefore power and duties are very different and this should be displayed clearer for society/public to understand. In coming to a conclusion, I would like to highlight that, even thou the role of Social Worker is quite interesting and very diverse, I would like to mention that the regulation, plays an important aspect to function of the role, whilst a good communication with linked worker, is paramount to the department. That information obtained, should be assessed thoroughly and passed onto following-up linked services.
That the department should also look at, staff development programs, to help refresh all Social Workers. Giving them an update training and sharing new ideas, which interns, improves communication in the department, as whole. On the positive side, the role of Social Service department, have being the most greatest achievement in Britain today, as the nation depends on them. To provide the citizen and integrated immigrants, with understanding their right to dignity, respect, personal care, right to mental health, housing and most of all, the service users/families and individual across Great Britain.
I truly believe and conclude that the Social Service is an effective institute, that has proven it’s worth and continues to work hard, to deliver the communities with the right care and services. For social workers to have a more positive position within society, I believe there are many changes that could be put into place. Their assessment and investigation techniques should be much more civilised and dated. Having said that, Social Workers may also need to brush up on their skills and the ability to detect dysfunctional individuals, that may be quite clever at hiding particular situations.
As members of the society looking inwards; we are only too quick to make judgments of social workers when we are not in the situation. I don’t really think they can be personally blamed, It’s possible the main issue could lay within their procedure & legislation. So; it could that the government may need to readdress this, so that a new legislation can be passed and empower & enhance the social workers effectiveness. I do sincerely hope that no more children loose their lives because of these issues.
I also believe that society today is still and will continue to be faced with its own demands, contingencies, employment sequences, enduring inequality and increasing expectations of public services. It is here in this complex and constantly changing environment that social workers have to function. Their significant effort in constructing society into a flourishing, elevated and prosperous place is monumental. However this can only be appreciated if society can identify and rejuvenate the role of the social worker within the context of a modern society.
This is also my particular aspiration to join the Social Service. I would like to also help, make a different to those that have lost faith and understanding of the department. Allowing me to share and use my experience to show empathy, consistency, will, confidence, competence, hard work, professionalism and my ability to work with and within a group, to help people who are less fortunate and help them achieve their goals in their lives. Whilst learning and practising my ability to understand and adapt a holistic approach to dealing with colleagues, my assignment and the field history of a Social Worker.