Q: I work in a child protection duty team in a local authority. The size of my caseload is putting children at risk and I’m worried that I’m going to be the next scapegoat if anything happens. I have tried to talk to my manager but she is too busy to listen. What should I do?
A: First, put your concerns in writing to your team manager so that you have tangible evidence of when you raised the issues. You also need to ask for supervision to address your specific concerns.
If your manager responds positively, you need to articulate why you think your caseload is unmanageable and give examples of what you feel you may not be able to cover. If you have a workload management system, use it to support your arguments.
Finally, refer to the General Social Care Council’s Code of Practice for Employees, which outlines your responsibilities to “bring to the attention of your employer operational difficulties that might get in the way of the delivery of safe care”. Also, flag up the Code of Practice for Employers.
Ideally, your manager will identify ways to alleviate some of the pressures. If so, check that your understanding of what has been agreed has been included in the supervision notes so that you have some reassurance that it will be acted upon.
If your manager is elusive, write to their manager, repeating your concerns and explaining what you have done to try to address them.
Finally, you may wish to ask colleagues whether they are experiencing similar difficulties and would be interested in making a joint representation to your manager and senior management. Your manager could be instrumental in making the case on behalf of, or with, the team.
Nushra Mansuri is professional officer for England at the British Association of Social Workers
Record what the situation is for each case that is worrying you, plus what you have attempted to do – i.e. talk to management. Then copy these extracts and inform higher management of your professional opinion of the situation. If something does go wrong, this should ensure that those who make the decisions face the consequences.
Try also to find an outside professional to perform in a supervisory capacity for you, in order to ensure that you have fulfilled your professional obligations to your clients and your employer.
Nicholas Savage, Luton Council
I qualified in 2007 with a third class degree in social work and couldn’t afford to re-do the year. My placements were in the substance misuse field, and I now have a year’s experience as a carers’ liaison officer. However, I have recently applied for at least 10 jobs but not heard back from any. What would you suggest I do?
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This article is published in the 16 July issue of Community Care magazine under the heading Caseload is putting children at risk