Category Archives: My Practice

Chicken Soup….Tuesday????

Sunday was supposed to be chicken soup day but I missed it. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to reflect however.

Over the last few months I have been having issues with my line manager. I have been told I need to improve my attitude. I have been told that I need to learn to communicate better. Me, I don’t automatically externalize issues. I always look at myself first to see what I am doing that could be misunderstood or misconstrued causing issues. What I found upon reflection is that it wasn’t just me. But what am I to do with someone who, by their own admission, is incapable of handling confrontation? Well, I bottled it all up, literally until I couldn’t breathe and getting out of bed caused tremors.

I am not an overly emotional personal so I freaked out enough to call the doctor. His prognosis? Mild depression. That, was difficult to hear, even if part of me felt it would be something like that. I don’t know if any other clinicians have been through something similar but I almost felt like I let myself and others down. I do think as someone in the helping profession I should take better care of myself, but it was a shock because I am not doing social work at the moment. I am doing quality assurance! Part of me was just incredulous.

I have read so many articles on self-care in social work. I have advised countless clients on the importance of looking after themselves but somehow it managed to slip right by me.

Anyhoo, I felt like I needed to express myself openly and honest about the situation. The response was as I thought, defensive and no self-awareness, but I felt better. I don’t think any relationship – work or otherwise – should be the primary responsibility of one person. It was really cathartic. I was professional but honest. I didn’t even realise how displaced I felt until I did it because after, I felt more like myself than I had in a very long time.

I need a supportive manager. Someone with whom I can talk through issues. Someone who understands that every day won’t be great and that’s fine. I think this may be a hazard in having a non social worker supervising or trying to manage a social worker. The expectations are different and I am not sure it is realistic to expect a non social worker to be able to support me in the way a social work manager would. I am still working through this one.


Posted by on November 4, 2014 in My Practice


Keeping Children Safe in Education

thumbnail_Keeping_children_safe_in_education_pdfThe government has put out guidance on safeguarding children in educational institutions. It covers recruitment, retention, safeguarding responsibilities. The guidance has been around since April however, I think it is worth sharing to make sure it stays in the collective consciousness. I think it is especially crucial as we are seeing many more children and young people engaging in sexually harmful behaviours with peers on school property. The working together guidance and the London child protection procedures gives guidance on how to approach these issues but I think it is important for institutions to make sure their staff are aware of their responsibilities and what to do should they have concerns. Children and young people spend a significant part of their lives in an educational institution (day care, schools, colleges, etc.) and as a professional committed to safeguarding children and young people it improves my confidence to know that there are measures in place to safeguard children as well as expectations of staff as to how to manage.  

Safeguarding is the responsibility of every professional working with children and young people and the Working Together Guidance outlines this, making it clear that every organization working with children and young people should have policies and procedures in place to address safeguarding. However, I am not sure how many Social Workers actually know what the responsibility is of educational establishments. I know it seems we need to know a lot but it is to our benefit to at least know where to go to get further information should we need it. It is about having a solid network to support children.

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Posted by on November 3, 2014 in My Practice, The Social World


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Chicken Soup Sundays

HomeIn the 90s when I was a teenager, a publishing company started a brand called “Chicken Soup for the Soul”. There are a lot of these books aimed at different self development issues and age ranges. They are series, consisting of inspirational, true stories about ordinary people’s lives.

Chicken Soup Sundays are going to my reflections. Everything from where I am as a practitioner to the effects of my work on my day to day life. Since leaving frontline social work, I haven’t given myself much opportunity foe self reflection, mostly because I didn’t think it would be relevant as I sit behind a desk these days. However, in the last few weeks I have noticed that the work I am doing now, the new systems of which I find myself apart and the information I have to review are having a massive impact on my mental health and I am having to seek outside help. I think having this space will help me process information, reflection on my responses to my circumstances and ultimately make me a better practitioner.

Hopefully you all will be able to learn from my mistakes and contribute some of your own coping techniques. I look forward to sharing my journey.

Image from Chicken Soup for the soul website. Click on picture for website.

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Posted by on October 26, 2014 in My Practice


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Good Practice in Making Referrals

This is just the list of things I find crucial in referrals, as some one who has made and was in charge of accepting them. Please feel free to share any other points you feel help in this process as well.

When thinking about making a referral it is important to:

– discussing the issues prior to the referral with the client (what are your concerns, why do you believe this referral can help, what is the stance around confidentiality, will you be asking for updates if so how much detail,)

– explaining the pros and cons of engagement with the client

– discuss timing with the client – when would it be proper to refer if now is not the time

– decide or assess the level of need and if it is a matter for referral or if consultation would suit the situation

– talk to the agency about the appropriateness of the referral and establish a working relationship for future reference if consultation is good enough


If the client has decided they are willing to work on the identified issue and consultation isn’t appropriate:

– be clear about what I would like the service to do for my client

–  be able to articulate the clients needs appropriately

–  have at least a minimal understanding of what the organization does

– understanding what the service you are referring to can offer

– understanding the limitations of the service you would like to refer to

– not being bullied into making a referral by managers to “cover yourself”; this helps no one – not you, not the client and not the service you are referring to

– make sure forms clearly outline what the current issues are and your recommendations (if you have any)

– make sure you let them know of any other services involved (with consent if client is voluntary)

– make sure they are aware of any statutory measures in place to which they may need to be party and understand how much of their treatment or working processes they can share

– if possible, share your own assessment as appropriate

– if participation in the service if part of an intervention or care plan, make sure they have a copy of that

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Posted by on October 17, 2014 in My Practice, Social Work Practice


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Local Substance Misuse Service


 Last month I went to a training given by service provider 722. They provide the adolescent drug and alcohol service for Waltham Forest. Reflecting on this training reminder of the pitfalls of being off the frontline and the need to maintain up to date knowledge of the issues that affect the populations with which I work or worked.

The trainer, though currently a service lead, has a background in social work. In addition to the information and reminders I received on drugs, I was struck by her insight and commitment to the population. In addition to not pushing the abstinence agenda (one which I do not whole heartedly agree with because it doesn’t fully take into account the need using a particular substance has for a person) she was clear about the fact that although the remit of her program stops at a certain age, she recognises a gap.

If I am not mistaken, the remit of the service ends at age 18. However, she recognised that there is a gap in the provision of substance misuse services from the 18-25 age range. It is in this age range that they begin to move into adult services which take a much different stance to treating substances. Most of the young people in this age range aren’t prepared for the intensity of the treatments adult services. There is a distinct difference between the delivery of services for adults and the delivery of services for young people and what struck me was the trainer’s stance on still accepting these young people because she recognises the need. I am always impressed by professionals who are willing to go above and beyond the call to respond to the needs of the community.

A referral to this service is done using the DUST – Drug Use Screening Tool. What I like and appreciate about this form is that you have to do it with the young person. What I appreciate about the service is they won’t accept referrals if they haven’t been done with the young person but they are also willing to consult professionals – in a three-way meeting with the young person if needed – in order to help. Sometimes, it isn’t just about making a referral. Sometimes talking to an expert can give you the tools and techniques necessary to work through issues with a client. What I also appreciate about the tools is it opens up the conversation so if the young person isn’t ready to engage, they start to think about their use and are made aware that help is available if they choose to accept it.

I appreciate talking to and working with professionals who are passionate about their work and looking to make a difference with their clients. What tools have you used or heard about? What do you like about them? How accessible are they?

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Posted by on October 10, 2014 in My Practice, Social Work, The Social World


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Adventures in Interviewing

666Many managers don’t like interviewing, whereas I love it. Enjoying it means I don’t mind volunteering to dip in for this. These are some of my experiences in the interview process of Social Workers. It has been nothing if not absolutely amusing.

My most recent set of interviews saw me being drawn in at the very last minute which I didn’t mind. One of the interviewees didn’t answer the questions or answered pieces of them then would go of on a tangent. :-/

Another interviewee spent the entire interview staring out of the window! You’re coming to me for a job and you can’t make eye contact? Sometimes I don’t believe people are conscious of their own behavior of the context. I don’t mean he candidate would glance out of the window from time to time, I mean she stared out of the window the ENTIRE time; not once did the candidate make any eye contact.

A third candidate spoke as if it were a conversation with friends in a pub. There was no semblance of professionalism in speech. It is important to make an effort and put your best foot forward during an interview. First impressions are everything because in most instances you don’t get a second chance.

I remember interviewing several months back and I was interviewing with another manager who was prompting the candidates for answers! I literally at points had to check myself because I am sure I was staring at her as though she had three heads! You can’t give them the answers! If a candidate doesn’t know the basic aspects of a Social Work position (and these were basic questions) then they don’t know and I am not scoring them for the answers where they were prompted. In essence, they were not getting the job.

I interviewed someone else that laughed or chuckled after every second sentence. It was slightly creepy. I had another candidate that stared intently; did not break eye contact in the slightest. It was unnerving. I have had people show up for interviews looking as though they were going for drinks. I have had people show up for interviews dressed as though the just that moment rolled out of bed. I have had people show up to interviews and look like they were going to cry!

Come on people, we are all adults. When you come to an interview you should be well dressed in a suit, both men and women. You should have adequately prepared for the interview. Most people will score your answers and decide from there whether or not you would be a suitable candidate, so you need to make the best impression possible. If not, then why bothering to show up. If I am interviewing you and your present with inappropriate or inadequate behavior, you will end up the subject of a critical post.

If in doubt, your local library has a host of books on preparing for interviews, interview techniques and how to combat nervousness. It is worth investing in a library card to be able to access these resources as it is better than the alternative!

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Posted by on September 22, 2014 in My Practice


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Finding my voice


I sometimes find it difficult to keep up with everything happening in the world that effects or should be effected by social work and social workers. In spite of my desire to make a difference and have a substantial impact, it is almost impossible to follow all media outlets, to comment on everything and to know it all.

Rationally I know social work isn’t about doing it all. Logically I know it is impossible but I feel like I should be doing more. I feel like I should know more and be able to effect greater change in the world around me. Children and families have always been my area of expertise. I  want to do more. I  have this blog and hope that it has been of use to those who follow it. There is so much to do in both micro and macro practice. It can result in caring overload.

As a professional I regularly tell others to seek help when they are at a loss as to what to do. It is time to take my own advice from the experts. Thank you for following along and watch this space as I continue to share my knowledge, experiences and ideas.

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Posted by on September 11, 2014 in My Practice


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