I came across a tribute written by Clare Allen in the Guardian, to her own Social Worker, Bernadette, who is retiring this week. Allen writes about the positive influence that her social worker and the relationship between them has resulted in.
I could quote whole swathes of the article but honestly, it is better to go there and read it in its entireity as says a great deal about the way in which a good social worker practises and how it is perceived and interpreted from the view of the recipient of the service.
Just a couple of points though, first is that Allen had the same social worker allocated for 11 years and, she writes, as far as she remembers, Bernadette has never had a sick day.
I honestly can’t imagine many people being able to write that about support staff. I wonder if it is about conditions, working environments and management structures.
It is a great tribute but it is also an indication, in more general terms, of the work that can be done in Community Mental Health teams by social workers and why it is important to retain their skill-base in teams that seem to be ebbing ever more to a Health-based paradigm and away from Social care.
Yesterday I was at a meeting where one of the discussions revolved about the apparent marginalisation of social workers in CMHTs as we move towards multi-disciplinary working and the need for social workers specifically has been loosened with the changing of the ASW (Approved Social Worker) role to the AMHP (Approved Mental Health Professional) which can be taken up by other professionals. Of course, it won’t happen for a while, but it is clearly a worry. There is though, a substantial role for social work to carve a niche and to have a positive effect.
Back to Bernadette though, who does sound like a great practitioner. I have learnt myself from Allen’s piece about things that are important that I think will have an effect on the way I practise.
I trust she will have a well-deserved, restful retirement!
Image via Wikipedia