Quality in practice: Agency workers – A guide to a good placement
Social worker and recruitment consutlant Tracy Newcombe offers guidance to practioners on the cusp of a career as an agency worker
Think about what work you are best suited to. Make sure your agency has had all the discussions about your pay and conditions before you start, you don’t want to be bogged do. Ensure you know as much as possible about the team you are going into. Ask questions about staffing levels, caseload levels, and the manager’s experience.
Once you are given a new placement have a quick look at the employer’s website, or do a Google search, to check information about the local community. Ask your agency about the area, they may have placed someone there before.
When you start
While you can’t expect to have a full induction you should sit down with the manager to talk through what is expected of you, supervision, what the systems are, how many cases will you hold. Knowing from the start what you will be doing is crucial.
While in post
Agency workers often feel that they don’t really belong in that workplace and that they aren’t fully part of the organisation they are placed in. While you are in post embed yourself in the team, get to know people and use them for peer supervision, equally they will learn from you. Ensure that your agency keeps in contact with you regularly. They are not just your payroll managers but also your additional point of support. Speak to them if you are not happy or if you are struggling.
Riding the storm
There will be times when you feel overwhelmed. People will expect you to hit the ground running but that doesn’t mean you should remain silent if you aren’t coping. Prioritise your work, ticking off pieces of work on your checklist during the day, and review what you have done. Speak to your colleagues and manager if you need advice and guidance. Managers respect workers more who don’t wait until it’s all going wrong.
When you leave
You may be leaving because your contract has finished or because you have decided to leave. Always make sure you leave your cases in order and files up to date. Your reputation is really important.
Tracey Newcomb is a qualified social worker and associate director at Barker Ross-Cardea Resourcing, an agency supplying social workers to local authorities