I have not been in the most sanguine of moods at work recently.  A mild and basically inconsequential altercation has put me somewhat at odds with one of our countless managers and although in my head (and this might be one of the problems!) I know I am right (!) , in retrospect, I probably haven’t been exceptionally wise about voicing my concerns and might be treading a fine line between outspokenness and ‘trouble-making’.

So all in all, I have to consider whether I’ve reached my regular ‘two year itch’ stage of working where I have tended to move on to different jobs or roles every couple of years – pretty much since I qualified.

I did apply for a new job a few months ago and that is the cause of some of the general grumbliness because it was an internal position which I didn’t get because I was told there weren’t enough applicants (only me actually.. )  so it will be re-advertised at some random point in the future but at the moment, I’m not inclined to re-apply.

image bohman at flickr

I am restless though. I feel I should be doing ‘more’. There is a strange position where social workers in the team, being seconded and therefore unbanded in relation  to our Health Service colleagues – end up on placed at about Band 6 equivalent – so we have nurses and OTs with significantly less experience being given more substantial tasks and responsibilities on the basis of their Band 7 (actually, the salary is genuinely not an issue for me but they do get paid more as well!) and the sometime obtuse situation where I am often approached for advice and support on the basis of my AMHP status and training by someone who is actually more senior than me in those strange office pecking orders that emerge.

I don’t give it a second thought most of the time because I’m more than happy to help and I have so much to do that there’s no point pulling weight but when it is raised in the more general meetings, it doesn’t really hold water.

It is grating particularly at present because my local authority won’t fund any PQ training for me at Higher Specialist (Masters) level unless I am a Senior Practitioner and I have exhausted all the possible training at the Specialist level (as I have a full PQSW under the old system which is equivalent to a Specialist level Award).

I enjoy learning. I don’t like standing still. For years, I’ve wanted to take a student on placement and in fact, was told that I could only on condition that I completed the ASW (Approved Social Work) training first on the basis of a service need (I wasn’t at all keen to train as an ASW – for the record!). I have done exactly what was asked of me and postponed my more favoured training route (the practice teaching) .

Now though, I’m being told that unless I hold a more senior position, the training will not be funded and anyway, I can’t be released for training because I am such a precious (!) resource as an AMHP (ASW as was) that it would not be possible for me to miss so many days.

Generally I like my job. I have good, conscientious colleagues and work with some excellent consultants. I enjoy working in the service area too. I think there is so much work to be done in the field of care for older adults and I feel passionately that there is a strong advocacy and support role that I can fill. Since I qualified, I have worked exclusively with the over 65s age group too so I suppose there is an element of expertise there as well.

I enjoy working in mental health services too as it gives me more flexibility to provide the support that I went into social work to do.

I love that social work has a place in a multi-disciplinary team and am grateful that I can inject some of the social model of care into the team approach although to be honest, that is very much the ethos of the team as a whole.

What I don’t love is the politics of the management and management structures. I could ignore it for a good deal of time but as I have wriggled into the team, I  have become more aware of where the priorities and balances lie – and they are firmly fixed on ‘not rocking the boat’ and almost impossibly lean balance sheets.

Part of the reason I feel I can do this job is because I have no fear of voicing my thoughts, feelings and experiences. I genuinely believe that advocacy and giving a voice to disenfranchised is a great part of my role and that I would be doing myself an injustice if I didn’t reflect this in my own dealings too.

But last week, in conversation with a more senior colleague, I was  urged to be more cautious in my language. A little less confrontational, perhaps. While seeing my point, she said that my approach could mark me as a ‘trouble-maker’.  That would not, she said, be useful in the longer term.

And I can see her point too, after all, she’s been working in the service for decades. But a part of me doesn’t want to keep my head down. I might lay low for a while though – it isn’t as if I don’t have enough to be getting on with in the meantime…  but I am going to try and push for the practice teaching .