More Sunday Ramblings


Not a ‘proper’ post this time but a few random thoughts that have occurred to me.

Firstly search terms on my blog. This is one of the more interesting aspects of having a blog and it is one that I’m sure others can attest to. Yes, I get a list of all the search terms that people type into google to come up with this blog.

So, I can see that over the past few weeks, I’ve had LOTS of searches for ‘deprivation of liberty’ ‘mental capacity act’ ‘best interests assessor/assessment’ and variations such as ‘case studies for best interests assessment course’ and ‘jobs for best interests assessor’. A sign of the times, without doubt.

I’ve seen a surge of searches for ‘gifts for social workers’ – much though I hope some of those people know me and are planning something special, I’m sure it’s related to the upcoming World Social Work Day – forget the suggestions I touted on the post – chocolate is ALWAYS good.

I still get quite a few hits on hypochondria and more than a few searching for information about memory clinics and recently, a number have been searching for information about making affirmations instead of taking oaths.

I don’t get as many ‘strange’ searches as I used to and while that’s good in the sense that people are finding what they’re looking for – it used to keep me marginally entertained!

In any case, it is a good way of judging a zeitgeist moment!

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I work on a floor of my office where there is a rough ration of 25 women to 2 men. Why do I still feel awkward going into the men’s toilet then when there is absolutely no difference except the little sign on the door? That is good social conditioning!

Sometimes the sheer negativity of colleagues can really be incredibly draining. I have to bite my tongue sometimes but it’s worth it in the long run. I think there is nothing sadder than working alongside someone who is clearly burnt out and resentful but can’t leave for financial reasons.

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I am SO glad I jumped from a generic adult community care team to a specialist mental health team. Care management was turning me into a word processor where any attempt at creativity was being sucked out of me by targets and systems. I still do some care management now but have more flexibility with it. I still work to the same targets and with the same systems. The difference is that I do other things as well – that’s the key. I haven’t had the will to exist managed out of me – which I fear was close to happening in my previous job.

Madmutt asked me on Twitter why I thought generic training was important in social work. It was hard to respond in 140 character messages! He did an admirable job of getting the argument across that teachers and nurses specialise early so why would it be different for social workers.

My (a little more extended) answer is that it is not strictly comparable. Of course specialisation needs to happen  but not necessarily so early as after the first year of a social work degree course. Families do not exist in isolation and I, personally, feel it is important that a wider understanding is held by ALL social workers of the knowledge in common and factors which affect life course work as well as a knowledge of the theoretical bases of social work which are common regardless of client group. The fundamentals of risk management and care planning are transferable.

Rather than narrowing down the studies between children and adults. I’ve always felt, since my course, that, for example,  a however brief, for example, a knowledge of mental health is necessary for all areas of social work.

A background of social policy, equally is essential. As is a knowledge of how the different systems work and operate.

While general nursing and psychiatric nursing are substantially different and teaching secondary or primary requires arguably different skill sets – social workers do have a commonality of skills and my gut feeling is that in the UK, children’s and adult’s services have already been split into different directorates in local authorities – splitting the training would destroy the links between the services which need to engage and work with each other, perhaps more so than Children’s social services does with Educational services.

I have a half-post that has been sitting in my ‘draft’ folder for a month or so all about this. I might dust it off and polish it up shortly as it begins to seem relevant again!

More than I expected to write but there you go! Back to normal service tomorrow.. oh and as a final thought, when should I start worrying about my blogging becoming too prolific? A few months ago I promised I would write less but I wasn’t very good at sticking to that!

Anyone have any general ideas as to whether I’m posting too much or about right (I won’t give ‘too little’ as an option as I wouldn’t comfortably manage any more!).

Any other suggestions, ideas or general feedback would be welcomed.

11 thoughts on “More Sunday Ramblings

  1. It’s really interesting to consider how we manage our aspirations. I come to this blog because I want to assimilate some thoughts on how it feels to be a social worker, now. I think this blog is brave! It also lets me (in the strange contextless environment of the internet), to connect my thoughts as an ordinary middle aged person with a debate that might change things for people who don’t think they have the right to be as nosy as I am, for example.

    Why do I think I have the right to comment on issues? Because I think that the more something is considered and evaluated and different views acknowledged and absorbed by the questioner that the whole questioning process can be reinvigorated. Depth and inclusion rather than the same old survey questions to the same old people proving the same old and ever new ways of recycling powerful interests over less powerful interests will just not do.

    Two examples 1) a Cambridge study of reoffending (for the Home Office) and future life success in middle aged males. The nine crtieria of life success were:

    S a t i s f a c t o ry accommodation history 6 7 8 0
    Home owner 4 8 6 6
    Home conditions not poor 7 4 7 0
    1–2 addresses in last 5 years 7 2 9 0
    S a t i s f a c t o ry cohabitation history 7 7 7 6
    Living with female part n e r 8 4 8 2
    M a rried/cohabiting 5 years+ 5 9 6 2
    Not divorced in last 5 years 8 8 9 2
    Gets on well with female part n e r 9 2 8 8
    S a t i s f a c t o ry employment history 7 6 8 2
    C u rrently employed 8 8 9 2
    Social class not low 7 5 7 7
    Take-home pay not low 7 5 8 4
    Unemployed 0–9 months in
    last 5 years 8 3 9 1
    Not involved in fights 6 3 8 5
    S a t i s f a c t o ry alcohol use 6 2 7 9
    Not driven after drinking (10+ units) 5 6 8 6
    Not heavy drinker (40+ units) 7 9 8 5
    Not binge drinker (13+ units) 6 6 7 2
    CAGE questionnaire score 0–1 7 1 7 6
    No drug use 8 1 8 2
    Not taken cannabis 8 2 8 5
    Not taken other drug 9 0 9 3
    No self-re p o rted offence (of 6 specified) 8 9 9 7
    GHQ score 0–4 7 6 8 4
    Not convicted in last 5 years 8 9 9 2
    Successful life 7 8 8 8
    (successful on at least 6 of the 9 criteria)

    The problem with this study is that it doesn’t bring individual notions of success into its conclusions at any stage.

    As such it’s really just a containing box, only looking into its own client group and doesn’t evaluate its own ‘success’ criteria based on the wider society which would create a true snapshot of how everyone scores on these ‘success’ criteria. Then, the deeper and more universally interesting and socially connective study of individual aspirations across social classes. This would give you up to the minute information about how everyone is reacting to social conditions that affect everyone, now, rather than just looking at ‘offenders’ and continuing to punish them throughout their lives because they take the burden of analysis for everyone’s ‘dysfunction!’ Individual aspirations are really important to properly account now and I think this would make a massive inroad into the ‘cult of celebrity’.

    If these criteria were to be published in the Sun or the Mail as well as the Times and the Independent then there could be a really interesting feedback as to the construction of the criteria and the kinds of life experiences all social classes face. It would also link prejudiced perception of this group of people into a wider discussion.

    The second example is the survey of children’s attitudes to knife and gun crime in their area which was published today. The media have immediately picked up on the lowest common denominator of the study ‘that 50% of young people never see a police presence intheir neighbourhoods’ which I think just communicates one thought ‘we need more police’ and really doesn’t communicate anything about the expansive and expensive study about young people’s views other than the obedient and conformist views of ‘we’ve absorbed the message, carrying a knife or a gun is wrong and criminals should get even longer sentences and we should spend more on locking people up’. I really don’t believe that this should be the kind of conclusion we should be looking for in studies or in the way our young people’s expectations and aspirations are communicated in the media.

    Heck! That was a ramble. Ah well, that’s why I chose the tag Soapsoane (John Soane 18th century architect in the gossipy environment of the internet!)

    • I’m not sure the table came out very well – but again, lots to mull over there. I may have to come back to it later as my brain is a bit over-tired at present. Thanks for the thoughts though and for the explanation of your name.. I’d never heard of Soane!

  2. There’s a great deal of negativity in my line of work too. I find it’s very much an organisational culture as much as a symptom of pressure. At times a sense of twisted humour is of great help, and that sort of low level irritation with the system can get more achieved, a good rant here and there seems to motivate.

    But we also have the burned out colleagues, and I know what you mean about draining. It sucks the soul out of any enthusiasm I can muster to get things done. There are one or two coworkers that I actively avoid. I don’t go so far as to run and commando roll behind desks when they approach, but it has crossed my mind….

    Lola x

    • Yeah, it has got to the point that I sometimes have to leave the room and go and sit in a different office for a while – of course the occupants of that ‘escape office’ know exactly the reason I’m doing it! Low level grumbling I’m very good at it myself, but blanket, consistent and constant negativity.. I have a limit on it – not least because I think it’s contagious!

  3. This doesn’t sound like it’s very connected with what you ramble on about today, but you do make a general invitation.

    So I would like to hear what your views on this subject at this site ere ?

    • I’ve edited out the link because it really is of no relevance to the post. I asked for comments about the blog specifically and still need to maintain the blog comment policy set out on the ‘about me’ page. Honestly, rocketone, I respect your differences in views but this isn’t the place for it. Thanks.

  4. At one stage, the entire conversation at lunch at work was dominated by 2-3 people who just bitched, whined and moaned about absolutely everything to do with the job. it’s not that they didn’t have a point, it’s that it was relentless and like facing down a steamroller. I would argue with them, which meant I spent every lunch break arguing. Otherwise though I would feel so much worse after lunch. I stopped going to the canteen.

  5. Very interesting about the search terms. I can see your point about social workers not specialising too early. It does seem as if the job you have now is just right for you but I would feel awkward about using the men’s too! I think your posting frequency is just fine.

  6. DeeDee – To be fair, it’s just one person but I know the feeling very well!
    WL – Thanks for the feedback 🙂
    Julie – I might just try that today – although it might shock a few people!

  7. I love your blog just the way it is. You always write thoughtful posts and they are always relevant to what is going on in the world today. And as you find interesting things to write almost every day I would say that you have got the frequency of posting exactly right.

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