Case recording – Quality in Practice

Quality in Practice… the latest guidance on CASE RECORDING

Helen Donnellan and Gordon Jack offer tips for newly qualified social workers on case recording

A major complaint from frontline social workers in all settings, but most particularly in local authorities, is that their work has become more office-based and less client-focused. We know that face-to-face work with clients is the factor which contributes most to job satisfaction and sustained morale. So what can be done to tackle the bureaucratic burden of case recording?

Have confidence in your own abilities

For newly qualified social workers, the IT skills needed to complete the degree should more than meet the standard required for most case recording systems. Sometimes, the know-how is there in ­principle but has to be delivered using un­familiar processes and with limited time and resources.

Don’t become a victim of the system

Employers are required to ­provide good quality IT systems and this is something to bear in mind when comparing different agencies and their terms and conditions of employment.

Actively seek out training

Prioritise IT training, ­keeping your knowledge and skills up to date. After training, ensure that protected time is included to experiment with the system, its navigation and any new amendments.

Make the boxes work for you

Clarify with your manager what is being asked for in the forms and then put it in the box in your own way. Gaining access to the forms, reports and records of a more experienced or recognised IT expert in your team could help to give you an idea of how others are using the system and how you can make the best of it for yourself.

Adopt positive coping strategies

Maintain realistic expectations of yourself. Not every report can or needs to be perfect. Find a ­balance: good enough and meeting the deadline is the desired goal. Re-framing the problem can also be a helpful strategy so that, for instance, completing a report can be seen as helping ­clients which, in turn, will maintain your morale.

Admin support

Consider what use you can make of other resources. Are there admin or clerical staff who can assist with data input? Can you delegate responsibility for some record-keeping while retaining oversight and case responsibility?

Taken from The Survival Guide for Newly Qualified Child and Family Social Workers – Hitting the Ground Running, by Helen Donnellan and Gordon Jack, published November 2009 by Jessica Kingsley. To order a copy at the special Reader Offer price of £17.99 visit and enter the following promotional code: CCNSQW.

Helen Donnellan is a project manager and researcher at the University of Plymouth and is involved in post-qualifying education and training for social workers. Gordon Jack has more than 30 years’ experience in social work practice, education and research. He is reader in social work at Durham University

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