I went to a friend’s birthday party and as a part of the general conversation, was discussing the differences of perceptions in the eyes of the general public at least, between nurses and social workers. You can probably guess which are the angels and which are the demons of the piece!
My take on it is basically that everyone has some kind of interaction or potential interaction with the health services and nurses. We see a lot of what they do and they have a clearly defined role. You ask generally what a social worker does and vague recollections of children being snatched from their well-meaning parents’ care in the middle of the night spring to mind.
My little theory is that people don’t want to think too much about the reality of the job that most social workers do – it is something that society wants to sweep under the carpet and it’s very easy for the ‘aspiring middle classes’ to detach themselves from any direct contact with social care and social services so it is easy to demonise the work they do.
I am sure there are as many ‘bad eggs’ in the profession of social work as there are in the nursing profession and would never choose to back them up without reason but I think that people judge social workers more harshly because they have no idea what we do and they can point at other people as ‘users of social services’ and take that step away from themselves.